THE LANGUAGE OF GOLF: Golf offers a Unique, Colorful Vocabulary

Learning to be bilingual opens doors of opportunities, helps slow down dementia and makes your brain stronger.

Golf has its own colorful language, and understanding these words, metaphors and statements can enlighten you for even more enjoyment as a spectator while lowering your score as a player.

Did you know that the driver, the longest club in the bag, had a different name in 1890? It was originally called “the play club” by the Europeans because it was designed to cheat the wind by flying low and simply staying in play. The golfers in the United States named the club “the driver” because they wanted to hit it farther.

Here is a quick overview of golf slang that can be regional, unique to clubs or foursomes:

Golfers and Golf Behavior

  • Dew sweeper: a golfer who plays in the first few groups of the morning
  • Chef: a golfer who can’t stop slicing
  • Hand wedge: tossing the ball with your hand to a place better than you could hit it
  • Foot wedge: kicking the ball with your foot to a place better than you could hit it

The Course

  • Dance floor: the putting green. A golfer who hits the green with an approach shot might say, “I’m on the dance floor.”
  • Dog track: a golf course that is in rough shape, condition-wise
  • Frog hair: the fringe around a putting green
  • Short grass: the fairway. “Keep it in the short grass.”
  • Velcro: very slow greens, in terms of green speed. “These are some Velcro greens.”
  • Water hole: a hole on the golf course on which water comes into play and intimidates the golfers
  • Cat box or beach: a sand bunker
  • Fried egg: a golf ball that is buried in a sand bunker so that the top of the ball resembles the yolk in a fried egg

Drives and Shots

  • Amelia Earhart: a shot that looks great taking off, but then you can’t find the ball
  • Air mail: the ball flying over the green, or hitting the ball much farther than intended
  • Captain Kirk: your shot went where no ball has gone before
  • Worm burner: an ugly shot that does not get off the ground. The ball will “burn a lot of worms” as it quickly rolls along the ground.
  • Laurel and Hardy: when you hit a thin shot and then a fat one


  • Botox: a putt that lips-out
  • Danny DeVito: a tough 5 foot putt
  • Moses putt: a putt that goes all the way around the cup but does not go in
  • Victory lap: when a golf ball catches the cup and spins around the rim before falling into the hole
  • Knee-knocker: a challenging short putt, one you should make and it scares you


  • Bo Derek: a score of 10 on a hole
  • Hockey stick: a score of 7 on a hole
  • Snow man: a score of 8 on a hole

I hope this helps you understand and engage in golf conversations wherever you are. And maybe understanding the language of golf will help you relax and play better.

Enjoy your time on the green in November. I’ll see you out on the course!

A former PGA Tour pro and member of the local Golf Hall of Fame, Doug Weaver is the Director of Instruction at the Palmetto Dunes Golf Academy. He conducts “Where Does the Power Come From?,” a free clinic and demonstration, every Monday at 4 p.m. (843) 785-1138, (800) 827-3006 or

By Doug Weaver, Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort