Introduction: Teed Up for Golf Scoring Success

Let's face it, golf can be a challenging game, and not just because of its extensive rule book or the technical expertise required to play the game. One of the most confusing aspects can be deciphering the language of golf scoring terms. But fear not, fellow golf enthusiasts! We've compiled the ultimate cheat sheet to help you navigate the golf course like a pro. This guide will give you the lowdown on golf scoring terms, handicaps, shot scoring terms, game formats, and even a bit of history. So, let's dive right in!

Breaking Par: Unlocking Golf Scoring Terms

From barkies to buzzards, golf scoring terms can seem like an entirely different language. In this section, we'll break down the most common terms for scoring, funny golf terms and some of the not-so-common terms. This will help you understand how they affect your overall golf score. With our guidance, you'll be well on your way to scoring like a pro!

Abominable Snowman - This doesn't sound like a happy golf scoring term. And it certainly isn't. It's the dreaded score of five over par on a single hole. Ouch!

Albatross - This is a truly majestic feat for any golfer and a rare bird indeed. This term represents a score of three strokes under par on a single hole. It's also called a double eagle. That means you've either aced a Par 4 or holed out with your second shot on a Par 5. How impressive is that?

Barkies - You step up to the tee box and nail your drive but it's fading into the trees. You get a lucky break as your tee shot hits a tree and ricochets back into the fairway. And even better you go on to par the hole. Now this is called a Barkie. All you need to do is hit a tree and make a Par. And if you're playing a golf betting game you may even earn some points or dollars for scoring a barkie.

Birdie The beautiful birdie is a score of one under par on a hole. It's a noteworthy accomplishment that will make any golfer grin with pride.

Bo Derek - Remembering Bo Derek is not good for the scorecard. In reference to her memorable film, this is a frightening score of 10 on a hole. There is nothing perfect about this score.

Bogey - Not quite up to par, a bogey represents a score of one over par on a hole. It's not ideal, but it's the average score for the average golfer on most golf courses.

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Buzzard - This is a term that's allegedly been around since the days of Bobby Jones but isn't that common even amongst seasoned golfers. It's yet another bird of prey and a tongue-in-cheek term for scoring two over par on a hole. In other words, it's a double bogey.

Condor - The absolute rarest bird of them all when it comes to golf. A condor is a shocking unbelievable score of four strokes under par on One Hole. An ace on a Par 5, a 2 on a Par 6. How crazy is that?  We'll get into the numbers later.

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Double Bogey - Doubling down on disappointment, a double bogey is when you score two over par on a hole. It's a bit of a setback, but hopefully, you've got it out of your system and are on your way to pars, birdies, and a few bogeys.

Eagle - It's time to take flight with an impressive score of two under par on a hole. This is usually scored on a Par 5 where you reach the green in two and sink the putt. But there's also nothing wrong with holing out for an Eagle.

Even/Level Par - Simply put, even means your score is exactly on par for the course – no more, no less. It's a solid performance that will make almost any golfer super happy with their game.

Hole-In-One/Ace - The holy grail of golf achievements, a hole-in-one is when a golfer scores a 1 on a hole, usually a Par 3. With 1 swing an Ace represents the ultimate display of skill with perhaps a bit of luck.

Over Par - When your score is higher than the par for the course, you're considered over par or above par. There's always room for improvement. Just hope the number over par isn't too big of a number.

Par - This is the standard in golf, that all golfers are measured by. Par represents the number of strokes an accomplished golfer should take to complete a single hole or a entire round of 18 holes.

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Quadruple Bogey - This is not a good golf score. It is an unfortunate score of four over par on a single hole. A quad can be a tough pill to swallow. But don't fret, hopefully, you can bounce back with a birdie.

Sharkie - This one sounds intimidating but it's a welcome relief when you can pull this scoring feat off. All you have to do is hit your ball in a water hazard and find a way to make a Par. No wonder it's such a cheeky term. It's a testament to skill and resilience in the face of misfortune.

Snowman - A chilly term and an unwelcome sight for the scorecard. A Snowman is a score of 8 on a hole. That means a triple bogey on a Par 5 and a quad on a Par 4.

Triple Bogey - This is not the score you want when you started the hole and probably not your finest moment. It's a score of three over par on a single hole.

Under Par - Now we're talking. This is a phrase every golfer would be ecstatic to hear. It means that your score for the hole or round is lower than the par for the hole or the course. It's a testament to playing some brilliant golf and a reason to celebrate.

Handicap Hysteria: Making Sense of Golf Scoring and Handicaps

Welcome to the world of golf scoring terms as it relates to golf handicaps. The beauty of golf is it's a game for all ages and skill levels. And this is all possible thanks to the golf handicap system along with the United States Golf Association, The R&A, and the World Handicap System. Handicaps, you see, are the great equalizer that allows the beginner golfer to compete with an experienced low handicapper. This section will untangle the concept of golf handicaps and make sense of the terms used to describe this ingenious system.

Bandit/Sandbagger - A cheeky term for a golfer who intentionally inflates their handicap to gain an unfair advantage in competitions. Golf is a game of tradition, honesty, and respect. These are not well-liked or honest players.

Course Rating - A course rating measures a golf course's difficulty for scratch golfers. It represents a number to 1 decimal point (e.g. 72.1) that a scratch golfer would be expected to shoot over 18 holes. The course rating is calculated based on the course length, number of hazards, and green difficulty. This rating is used to determine handicaps and predict a golfer's score.

Gross Score - A golfer's gross score is the total number of strokes taken to complete a round of golf. It includes penalty strokes but does not take into consideration their handicap.

Halve/Halve a Hole - When two players tie on a hole during match play, it's said to be halved.

Handicap - A golfer's personal equalizer, the handicap system levels the playing field by accounting for skill differences, allowing players of varying abilities to compete fairly. It takes into account a golfer's past performance on various courses and adjusts their score based on the courses' difficulty levels. A golfer with a lower handicap is considered more skilled, while a higher handicap indicates a less skilled player. In 2020 the handicap limit was increased to 54.0 for both men and women by the World Handicap System.

High Handicapper - Golfers with a handicap of 20 or higher are considered high handicappers.

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Hustler - A golfer who's particularly adept at winning bets on the course, often by downplaying their skills or employing sneaky tactics. Handle these sly players with care!

Low Handicapper - A golfer with a single-digit handicap, usually between 1 and 10. These skilled players consistently shoot in the 70s.

Mid Handicapper - With a handicap typically between 10 and 20, mid-handicappers are solid players who still have room for improvement. On any given day they can put up a very respectable score in the low 80s. But they need to be more consistent if they want to break 80 on a regular basis.

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Net Score - The net score is calculated by taking the golfer's handicap and subtracting it from their gross score.

Plus Golfer - A golfer so skilled that their handicap dips below zero into the negative. A plus golfer is someone who consistently plays better than the course rating and would have to give a scratch golfer strokes. Talk about impressive! These are the best of the best. They are often professional golfers who play tours around the globe.

Scratch - A scratch golfer is one who boasts a handicap of zero, meaning they're expected to play on par with the course rating. Essentially, they're top-notch golfers.

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Slope - The slope rating represents a course's difficulty for bogey golfers (those with a handicap of about 20 for men, 24 for women) versus scratch golfers (those with a handicap of 0). Slope ratings range from 55 to 155 with a course of average difficulty coming in at 113. The slope is meant to help the higher-handicap golfer who will struggle more than lower-handicap golfers on more challenging golf courses.

The Perfect Shot: Golf Shot Scoring Terms

Ah, the beautiful golf shot - the very essence of the game that can make or break a player's scorecard. In this enlightening section, we'll break down the various golf scoring terms associated with golf shots that make a difference on the golf course.

Drained - When you sink a long or difficult putt, you've drained it. If you want to sink more putts check out the putting aids the Pros use.

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Ferret -  This is a slang term for holing out from off the green, typically with a chip or pitch shot using any club but the putter. It's a ferret because, just like the curious critter, it sneaks into the hole unexpectedly!

Gimme - This is a super shot putt (usually 2 feet or less) that seems impossible to miss so it's conceded by the other golfers in your group. It speeds up play and is a sign of sportsmanship.

Hole Out - The ultimate goal on each hole. Hole out refers to sinking the golf ball into the cup.

Stroke - This is the essence of the game and how you score in golf. A stroke is any swing of the club aimed at hitting the ball.

Sandy - Who doesn't love a sandy? All you need to do is get up and down out of the bunker. That's right - only one stroke onto the green followed by 1 putt into the hole.

Tap In - A putt so short and sweet it's practically a gimme. A tap-in requires just a gentle nudge of the club to send the ball into the cup.

Up and Down - A true test of a golfer's short game, an up and down involves successfully getting the ball onto the green and into the hole in just two shots. This is typically a chip or pitch followed by a putt. Most golfers don't spend enough time practicing their short game.

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Whiff - Swing and a miss and sadly a stroke counted.

Fore-mat Frenzy: Scoring Terms for Golf Game Formats

The game of golf is more than just individual stroke play. There are plenty of popular golf game formats where the magic of camaraderie, competition, and strategy converge in a thrilling team game. Let's find one that suits your taste.

Best Ball - Best Ball is a fun tournament format where players compete in teams of 2,3 or 4 players. Each player in a team hits their own ball throughout the round, and the team's best individual score on each hole is recorded based on the lowest net score from the lowest team member. This is a popular format for charity events and corporate tournaments. It's the perfect balance of individual play and team play.

Four Ball - Four ball is a captivating format that is similar to best ball. However, it features two-player teams competing against each other, with each player playing their own ball. The team's best individual score on each hole is recorded from the lowest score of the two players.

Make the Cut - In most PGA golf tournaments four rounds of golf are played. After the second round, the field of golfers is cut to include only the golfers with the lowest scores. Depending on the tournament the field is typically cut to the top 70. Sometimes there is also a 10-shot rule in effect meaning those golfers within 10 shots of the lead make the cut. Making the cut or playing the weekend is crucial to Pros because you only earn prize money when you complete all 4 rounds.

Match Play - This is a head-to-head battle of skill and strategy. Match play sees players competing against each other versus the field of golfers. The goal is to win each individual golf hole with the lowest score. Victory is awarded to the golfer who has won the most golf holes.

Scramble - In this team-based format, all players tee off, the best shot is selected, and then all players hit from that spot, continuing this process until one of the golfers holes out. The scramble is all about teamwork and is the perfect game for beginners and low handicappers.

Stableford - A point-based system that rewards golfers based on their performance relative to a hole's par. Unlike stroke play the player with the highest number of points wins. Here's how points are awarded:

  • 0 Points - Score of Double Bogey or Worse
  • 1 Point - Bogey
  • 2 Points - Par
  • 3 Points - Birdie
  • 4 Points - Eagle
  • 5 Points - Double Eagle/Albatross
  • 6 Points - Condor

A Stroll Down Golf's Memory Lane: A Brief History of a Few Golf Scoring Terms

Ever wondered where these quirky golf scoring terms originated? In this section, we'll delve into the captivating history of golf scoring, tracing its roots from Scotland's ancient links to the golf terms we know and love today. So let's take an enchanting stroll down golf's memory lane.

What is Par in Golf?

The story of "par" in golf is a fascinating one dating back to 19th-century Scotland. Before the word Par was used, Bogey was the term defining the recommended score for a hole. Legend has it that during a match-play tournament, a player was complimented as a "regular bogeyman." Another theory proposes that it came from a well-known song during that period called "Hush, Hush, Here Comes the Boogeyman."

As for "par," Scottish Golf History traces its origins to an interesting connection with the stock market in 1870. A writer named A. H. Doleman asked golf professionals what the winning score for "The Open" at Prestwick, a unique 12-hole course, would be. Their prediction? A score of 49, which Doleman dubbed "par" for the course. Young Tom Morris won the tournament with a score just two strokes over par, giving birth to the term we know and love. By the early 1900s, "par" had become an essential part of golf vernacular, adding a touch of whimsy and intrigue to the sport's colorful history.

What is Bogey in Golf?

We've already discussed a little bit of history regarding bogeyman but let's travel further back in time. If we go back to the 16th Century, we'll find the origins of the term "bogle". This was a word used interchangeably with "Bogey-man", a term to describe mischievous creatures or goblins. The golfers of that time tested their mettle against a cunning opponent—the intangible yet formidable "Mr. Bogey". Today we know these contests as handicap matches or Stableford competitions depending on your golf scoring terminology. It wasn't until the 20th century that "bogey" evolved into its current meaning: one stroke over par. Ah, the beauty of golf vernacular!

What is a Condor in Golf?

When it comes to rare golf scores, Condor is at the very top of the list. In fact, it's on a list all by itself.  It makes a hole-in-one or even an albatross look like an everyday occurrence. Why? Because it's so difficult there aren't even any odds. Furthermore, there's only been a total of 6 recorded scores of four strokes under par on a single hole in all of Golf History. Now you understand what we mean by the rarest bird of them all.

And today we're traveling back to the most improbable of the six recorded Condors.

  • The Year: 2020
  • The Setting: Lake Chabot Golf Course, Oakland, CA
  • The Hole: Number 18, a Par 6, 667 Yards
  • The Legend: 54-year-old Kevin Pon, a 10 Handicapper
  • The Unbelievable: A 550-yard downhill drive in crazy firm and fast conditions followed by a 100-yard 2-hop wedge into the hole.
  • The Score: An unforgettable 2.

Can you believe it? Try and find a Par 6 let alone playing it in fewer strokes than 3. The other Condors were aces on a Par 5.

Conclusion: From Mystery to Mastery – Embracing the Golf Scoring Lingo

Armed with your newfound knowledge of golf scoring terms, handicaps, shot scoring, and game formats, you're now ready to hit the course with confidence. Keep this comprehensive guide handy, and you'll soon be impressing your friends and fellow golfers with your golf lingo. Just remember, the key to mastering the game isn't merely understanding the language – it's about respecting and enjoying the thrill of the competition of this beautiful sport.

Thanks for visiting. We can't wait to see you again!

"Hit 'em long and straight."


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