Golf Terminology Kids Should Know
Golf terminology for kids keeps it simple. There are literally hundreds of golf terms that have specific meanings with the game - the majority of which are used only by golf journalists. Conservation of Angular Momentum anyone? A good junior golf coach (we have an article on how to find those) will simply be talking about developing "good timing" in the junior's swing.
So what golf terms should junior golfers be familiar with? Our article Best Ball, Alternate Shot, Scramble and Match Play covers the specifics of these formats including the concepts of being Two-Up, All Square, and Dormie.
In addition to the above, the following golf terms come up regularly in junior golf coaching sessions, practice and tournament play. Par is the number of strokes a scratch golfer should require to finish a hole or complete all the holes on a course. Holes are either 3, 4 or 5 par holes, so on a par 4, the golfer is expected to take 2 shots to reach the green followed by 2 putts for a total of 4 shots. The par of the golf course is the total number of strokes a scratch golfer would require to complete the course (most often 70, 71 or 72).
Scratch golfer is a golfer with a 0 handicap, a great goal to have that will require a lot of practice and perseverance. Handicaps, essentially the number of stokes over par you should take to play 18 holes of golf, and their relevance to junior golfers, is explained here in Golf Handicaps for Kids
Birdie, is a score of 1 under par on a hole. Eagle is a score of 2 under par on a hole.
Albatross is a score of 3 under par on a hole (also known as a 'double eagle') and an Ace is a hole in one. Interestingly, in the very rare and unlikely event you aced a par 5 hole, it would be known as a Condor. A Bogey is a score of 1 over par on a hole. Double bogey (or Double) being 2 over par on the hole and so on. A Snowman is a score of 8 on a single hole.
Alignment is how you position your body relative to the target. Helping with alignment is one of the things parent caddies are no longer allowed to do for their juniors under the New Golf Rules in an effort to keep Pace of Play (how fast a hole is played) and discourage over-coaching. That being said, alignment is an essential part of the swing and should be part of a good pre-swing routine. Alignment sticks are not allowed in competition, however, can be invaluable on the practice range.
Approach is generally a shot hit towards the green on a par 4 or 5 hole. An alternative use of the word describes the geography of the hole and encourages the player to think about the way he will navigate the ball to the green (eg. from the left or right, fly it, chip and run etc.).
Course management is how you approach (yes, we're throwing in a third play on the word) the course from a mental and strategic perspective - the decisions you make like picking the correct club, best target line etc. It is imperative and often overlooked in junior golf coaching.
On a green the Break is the amount a putt will curve to the side because of various factors that affect the ball's movement, ie. slope, grain and weather conditions.
Grain is the direction the blades of grass grow - especially relevant on greens. Putting greens with a strong grain pattern have a two-toned appearance ie. some areas will look shiny or silvery while others have a dark green appearance. Light colors mean you are putting with the grain, dark areas indicate putting against the grain. Not all putting greens exhibit grain, it depends on the grass.
Chunk is a bad shot caused by hitting the grass well behind the ball resulting in a Fat Shot which comes up well short of where you hoped. Also known as a Flub.
Unlike the previous shots, Draws and Fades are shots you want to have in your repertoire which are essentially controlled shots you can direct around trees, obstacles or penalty areas. A right-handed player hits a draw when the ball flight curves from right to left and a fade from left to right.
Fly is how far the ball carries in the air. If there is a pond or bunker in your line you want to know if you can fly it over or should lay it up. As opposed to a Flyer which is a shot hit with little spin and goes a greater distance than normal.
Hooks and Slices are usually unintended. A hook is a severe draw and a slice is a severe fade. However, if you can perform a hook or slice intentionally it can work as aggressive navigation around trees or other obstacles.
Shank is the most dreaded mis-hit in golf. Usually the golf ball speeds off the hosel of the golf club at an acute angle towards the right. Don't say 'shank' on a golf course - a lot of players are very superstitious about hearing the word.
As we are talking about some of the most dreaded terms in golf, to Yip is to miss a putt due to an attack of the yips. The Yips are commonly due to shakiness or nervousness in making a shot, however, have been subject to in-depth scientific exploration and explanation. It's a dreaded condition for players, affecting Amateurs (players that don't play for money) and Pros alike.
Penalty Areas are bodies of water or other defined areas (red or yellow stakes or lines) where a ball is lost or unable to be played from. See New Golf Rules Quiz and Rules Summary about what to do about them.
Bunkers are the areas of prepared sand on a course. Sometimes, to be funny, people refer to them as the 'beach', 'sandbox' or 'cat box'. On the course it is always preferable to be "In-Play" - the ball being within course boundaries, as opposed to "Out of Bounds" - the ball lying outside of white markers where play is prohibited. A ball hit "OB" incurs a stroke and distance penalty.
Competitive junior golfers are always interested in the Stimpmeter reading of the green. This indicates if a green is running slow (a reading of 5 or 6) or fast ( 9 or 10) or super fast (over 11). Along the same lines, when preparing for a tournament it is interesting to note the Slope of the course. The average course has a slope rating of around 113. A very difficult course has a slope rating upwards of 120 (maximum 155). This is one element of calculating golf handicaps for kids.
Regardless of whether you're new to the game or a seasoned competitor your knowledge of golf terms is important. None more so than "Fore!" - you don't want your ball hitting anyone on the head!
Golf Terminology for Kids Quiz
Take our fun and easy 10 question golf terms quiz for kids!
Golf Terminology for Kids Quiz - Advanced/Expert level
If you are up for an advanced, expert level quiz try this short 10 question one!