Golf Phrases: Funny Golf Slang and Terms
Since a round of golf can routinely last over four hours, there is plenty of time for conversation among golfers. Once golf play begins with a tee shot, playing partners will use slang, golf shot terms, golf sayings, and use direct quotes to entertain and enrich their enjoyment of the round.
These funny golf sayings make time on the course more enjoyable, regardless how the golf is played. Even when players are holding the club over the golf ball, players will frequently spice up their round with some good-natured ribbing, even if it is just between two golfers.
In our article highlighting the best golf phrases and golf expressions, such as slang, general terms, and quotes, we take a lighthearted look at the comedic side of the great game, providing ammunition for the next time you hit the course and want to make fun of a golfer’s playing ability.
What You Will Learn In This Post
Easily the most enjoyable thing to say on the course is a few slang words that represent a shorthand that only other golfers know. With our own form of communication, using slang can help create bonds that make the time on the links some of your favorite moments of the year.
Here’s a handful of slang terms to use next time you play a round.
If you ever hear a playing partner use the slang term of “sticks” then know that means golf clubs. For frequent golfers, using the phrase “sticks” is relatively common, especially when they are playing poorly and their golf swing is out of sync.
A chunked shot is a bad shot occurring when the golfer strikes the ground behind the golf ball first. Rather than hitting the ball cleanly, the golfer experiences diminished power as the divot forces the ball to carry poorly and well short of its intended target.
Another fun slang term for the golf course is “air mail.” When a golfer hits a poor shot over the green, then they “air mailed” the putting surface. Whether it comes from misjudging the distance or the strength of the wind behind the poor shot, “air mailing” can ruin a hole and cause a major dent in the scorecard.
A “gimme” is when the golfer faces short putts of only a few feet on the course and chooses to pick up their golf balls rather than putt out the hole. Although a gimme is not a putt, the golfer scores the imagined golf stroke as if it were a made putt. In match play, a conceded putt routinely would be called a “gimme” in less formal settings on the course.
The phrase, “dance floor” refers to the putting green. When you hear one of your playing partners say, “I’m going to use a 7-iron to get this ball on the dance floor,” they are hoping to reach the green with their entry shot.
When a golf course has seen better days, players will call the course, “a dog track.” Any rundown course in need of serious restoration will be commonly referred to as “a dog track.” When you see greens that have bare spots, fairways that are not maintained and frequently mowed, or uneven tee boxes, you can rest assured that someone has used this derogatory golf term in reference to the course.
When a golf ball lands in the bunker and buries itself with just a small area of the ball exposed, the term for this unfortunate circumstance is a “fried egg” lie. While the term is relatively self-explanatory, for those that need more clarity, this particular situation where the ball sits in sand looks like a fried egg from above.
A catchphrase that gained traction from the movie Caddyshack, “winter rules” is slang for improving your lie due to the harsh conditions caused by the cold weather of the season.
In Caddyshack, one of the characters consistently improved his lie on the course citing “winter rules” as the reason. For beginner golfers and slower playing golfers, playing by winter rules can speed up the round.
Although not as much fun as slang, these golf terms are necessary to learning the finer details of the game, especially if you are taking lessons with a seasoned coach.
Here are several of the most common golf terms you’ll hear when playing.
When a golfer scores one less than par on a hole, then they score a “birdie.” For serious golfers, placing birdies on their scorecard helps reduce the penalty incurred by bogeys.
When a golfer scores 3-under par on a hole, such as when a golfer scores a 2 on a par 5, then they scored an “albatross.” Although extremely rare, professional golfers occasionally hole out shots from the fairway on a reachable par 5, achieving an “albatross” on a hole.
An “eagle” is when the golfer posts a score that is 2-under par. A hole-in-one on a par 3, for example, is a birdie on the scorecard because the golfer completed the hole in one stroke when par is three strokes.
A bogey is when a golfer goes 1-over the listed par for a hole. Regardless of what the par is for a hole, shooting 1-over constitutes a bogey.
Referring to the fairway, the term found its name due to the short length of the grass in the middle of a hole. When a player hits tee shots into the fairway, you’ll routinely hear this term used by a weekend warrior in your group on the golf course.
When a ball gradually moves left to right that shot is called a fade. Not to be confused with a “slice,” where the ball moves extremely to the right, a fade utilizes more control from the golfer. Rarely would a fade be considered a poor shot, although a slice is routinely considered to be a bad shot.
For a right-handed golfer, a draw is a golf shot that comes back to their side of the course. Moving from right to left, the draw also allows golfers more control when the ball hits the green with minimal side spin.
Golfers who hit a poor shot will sometimes take a “mulligan” and hit a second ball without taking a penalty. For example, if a golfer mis-hits a bad drive off the first tee, they can use a mulligan to re-tee a new ball and hit another shot with the driver’s club head.
In corporate tournaments, mulligans can be purchased for a team or individual player, giving them more chances to correct their errant shots, while raising more money for charity.
A golf format involving two golfers, match-style play goes hole by hole with a winner determined by the low score after both players finish. If the golfers card the same score, then no player wins the hole. The winning golfer claims their title if they are leading by more holes than remain on the course.
Rather than having a full 18 hole course, an executive layout offers a reduction in number of holes and length of each hole to encourage a shorter playing time. For golfers that struggle to find the time to play a full round, an executive design can fulfill their desire to play golf without sacrificing the majority of their day.
When a golf course employee tells players to practice “ready golf,” they want golfers to play golf quickly so they don’t cause a backup on any golf hole. At regular golf courses, rounds can last over four hours, so if the group is not playing “ready golf” and simply enjoying the fresh air with no regard to other playing groups, the round can lengthen causing long delays.
Gold Tee Markers
If you play a course with gold tees, then they represent the championship-level tees for a golf course. Tees designated with gold or black regularly denote the preferred way to play the course for advanced golfers.
When a coach gives out golf tips, they routinely encourage their students to find “tempo” with each golf shot. No matter if it is a drive or a short game shot, tempo can help deliver consistent results.
Regardless of whether it is a short putt that demands a smooth putting stroke, or you are hitting shots from a longer distance, finding the tempo helps keep your swing in sync, providing reliability that you can count on when playing golf.
When a ball hits the green evenly with the hole, but just to the right or left of the flag, then you’ve hit the ball “pin-high.” Golfers strive to land the ball with the right distance to the pin for better putting opportunities to score either birdie or par.
For golfers looking for inspiration in finding more success when attempting a very short putt, shots from a tough sand bunker, or how to overcome a terrible shot, some of the world’s great leaders and writers have shared their wisdom and inspiration through golf phrases and quotes to help weekend warriors take their game to the next level.
If you were to seek out the funniest golf quotes of all-time, your search would inevitably end with the six-time major winner, Lee Trevino. Born in north Texas, Trevino grew up on a local course near his home, working the range at a young age before moving to caddying, and eventually, hustling the club’s members out of their 19th hole money.
Trevino’s wit is as sharp as his golf game. If you look at his Wikipedia page, you won’t be surprised to find an entire section labeled “Humor.”
Easily his most infamous quote came after Trevino was struck by lightning at the 1975 Western Open. When asked by a reporter what he would do if he was out on the course during a storm, Trevino quipped, “In case of a thunderstorm, stand in the middle of the fairway and hold up a 1-iron. Not even God can’t hit a 1 iron.”
Other popular quotes from Trevino include:
- “My swing is so bad I look like a caveman killing his lunch.”
- “You can make a lot of money in this game. Just ask my ex-wives. Both of them are so rich that neither of their husbands work.”
- “Only bad golfers are lucky. They’re the ones bouncing balls off trees, curbs, turtles and cars. Good golfers have bad luck. When you hit the ball straight, a funny bounce is bound to be unlucky.”
- “Pressure is when you play for five dollars a hole with only two in your pocket.”
Another legendary golfer known for the sharpness of his mind is South African Gary Player. Winner of a whopping nine major championships, Player continues to hold clinics, write books, and play the great game well into his 80s.
YouTube videos of Player rack up millions of views each year for his golf knowledge and his entertaining style of presentation.
Some of Player’s most famous quotations about golf include:
- “It’s a marriage. If I had to choose between my wife and my putter, well, I’d miss her.”
- “The ideal build for a golfer would be strong hands, big forearms, thin neck, big thighs and a flat chest. He’d look like Popeye.”
- “Golf asks something of a man. It makes one loathe mediocrity.”
- “Golf is a puzzle without an answer. I’ve played the game for 40 years and I still haven’t the slightest idea how to play.”
- “If one isn’t prepared to suffer during adversities, I don’t really see how he can be successful (in golf).”
- “The more I practice, the luckier I get.”
Top Ten All-Time Golf Quotes
Here are our choices for the top-ten all-time golf quotes:
Arnold Palmer: “”I have a tip that can take five strokes off anyone’s golf game: It’s called an eraser.”
Author P.J. Rourke: “Golf combines two favorite American pastimes; taking long walks and hitting things with a stick.”
Pastor Billy Graham: “The only time my prayers are never answered is on the golf course.”
Tiger Woods: “No matter how good you get you can always get better and that’s the exciting part.”
Bob Hope: “If you watch a game, it’s fun. If you play it, it’s recreation. If you work at it, it’s golf.”
Ben Hogan: “The most important shot in golf is the next one.”
Sam Snead: “”If a lot of people gripped a knife and fork the way they do a golf club, they’d starve to death.”
Chris Perry: “The worst club in my bag is my brain.”
Jack Nicklaus: “I think I fail a bit less than everyone else.”
Mark Twain: “Golf is a good walk spoiled.”
Using golf phrases on the golf course is another way to bond with your friends and playing partners. While there are dozens of great golf expressions in the golfing community, we could not get every slang term and memorable quote on this list.
But the more you play the local golf courses in your area, you’ll find that you can learn new golf phrases with each playing partner you come across on your golfing journey.