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Golf terms you need to know to impress your friends, colleagues & family

Key to understanding golf is familiarising oneself with its terminology and features, from the layout of the course to its scoring system

A player at a previous Magical Kenya tour

A fancy polo shirt, a well-fitted pair of shorts, crisp white soft-spiked shoes, and a clean cap is what most people envision when they think of golf.

Add the satisfying hit of a well-executed swing hitting the golf ball across the lush green course, and you've got the quintessential image of the sport.

A layman might describe this when asked about golf, the sport dates back to as early as the 15th century.

It takes an understanding of the basics of golf from the gear used to the shots made to be able not only to play but also enjoy a round of golf as a fan.


The field where golf is played is called a golf course. A golf course typically consists of a series of holes, usually 18 in total, each with a starting point known as a tee box and an ending point known as a hole or cup located on the putting green.

The putting green is the area of the golf course that is nearest the hole. The area around the hole has been prepared specifically for putting.

Putting is typically the final stage of completing a shot, as the golfer aims to sink the ball into the cup from a relatively short distance


The course may also include various features such as fairways (the areas of the course that are the most well-maintained for playing), roughs (areas of longer grass which can be more challenging to play), bunkers (sand traps), and water hazards to challenge players and test their skills.

Golf courses can vary in design and difficulty, with different layouts, terrains, and obstacles to challenge players.

In golf, each hole on a course is assigned a specific number of strokes it should take a golfer to complete, known as par.


The term 'par' is a benchmark score for each hole and is based on the length and difficulty of the hole. Par for a hole is typically three, four, or five strokes.

Scoring one stroke under par for a hole is known as a birdie. For example, if a hole is a par 4 and a golfer completes it in three strokes (one stroke less than par), they have scored a birdie.

Scoring one stroke over par for a hole is called a bogey. For example, if a hole is a par 4 and a golfer completes it in five strokes, they have scored a bogey.

While bogeys are not as desirable as achieving par or scoring under par (birdie or eagle), they are a common part of the game, particularly for amateur or less experienced golfers.


Scoring two strokes under par for a hole is called an eagle. This is an excellent score and is an indication of exceptional play on that particular hole.

For example, If a hole is a par 4 and a golfer completes it in two strokes, they have scored an eagle.

A hole-in-one in golf occurs when a golfer makes the ball go into the hole on their first stroke from the tee box.

Golf offers a range of playing formats and techniques to accommodate different skill levels and preferences.


In stroke play, players aim for the fewest total strokes over a round, while match play involves competing hole by hole in head-to-head play.

Stableford on the other hand awards points based on performance on each hole.

As for techniques, players use driving to hit long shots down the fairway, iron shots for various distances and approaches, and wedges for short, precise shots around the green.

Chipping is used close to the green to reach the putting surface while putting involves hitting the ball into the hole on the green.


Approach shots are taken from the fairway or rough to reach the green, and bunker play requires specialised techniques to escape sand traps using a sand wedge or other wedge.

When playing golf, having the essential gear is crucial for a good experience. This includes various types of golf clubs such as the driver, used for long-distance shots.

Woods like the 3-wood and 5-wood for fairway shots; irons for approach shots and play from the rough; wedges like pitching and sand wedges for short, high shots; and putters for rolling the ball into the hole on the green.


Tees are small pegs used to elevate the ball for the first shot on each hole. Golfers also need a golf bag with compartments for storing clubs, balls, tees, and accessories, as well as personal items.


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