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The Various Names and Terms Used for Golf Shots

Golf shots are an essential aspect of the game, and they have varying names and terms associated with them. When a player completes a hole two over par, it is referred to as a double bogey, and if they complete it three over par, it is a triple bogey. On the other end of the spectrum, a hole in one is achieved when the player puts the golf ball into the hole in just one stroke, an impressive feat that is the dream of every golfer.

A double eagle is obtained when the player completes a hole three strokes under par, showcasing expert skill and proficiency. These terms are fundamental in golf and are often used in discussing a player’s performance. Understanding these terms is crucial for any golf player, particularly those with a handicap, as it can impact their overall performance.

Overall, the various names and terms used for golf shots demonstrate the rich history and tradition of the sport, and they continue to play an important role in the contemporary game of golf. 

Golf Scoring Terms Explained

Golf scoring terms are commonly used in the world of golf to measure a player’s performance on the course. One commonly used term is “dogleg” which refers to a hole that curves to the left or right. Another slang term often heard in the context of a golf tournament is “match play” which involves individual or team competition based on the number of strokes taken to complete a hole. In a tournament, players aim to score below par, with “two under par” being a desirable outcome.

In the rich history of golf, certain terms have become synonymous with extraordinary achievements, such as an “albatross” where a player completes a hole two strokes under par. Understanding these golf terms is essential for both avid players and spectators to fully appreciate and engage with the sport. Whether you are an experienced golfer or a newcomer to the game, comprehending the intricacies of golf scoring terms will enhance your understanding and enjoyment of the sport. 

Driving Off the Tee

When starting a hole, the first shot a player takes is driving off the tee. The tee shot occurs from the specially prepared teeing ground, where the player is allowed to place their ball on a small peg or tee to elevate it. This first golf shot on every hole is known as the drive. Depending on the strategy, a golfer may choose to hit their driver, the longest club for maximum distance, or they may opt for an iron or fairway wood for more control.

Every hole and golf course has a unique challenge presented from the tee box for the drive. Positioning the drive successfully in the fairway or a good lie is a key part of setting up the next golf shots on every hole.

Approaching the Green

After the tee shot, golfers utilize different clubs and shots to approach near the putting green. Successfully getting their second shot on par 4s or third shot on par 5s onto the actual putting surface is very difficult, even for professionals. So most golfers are aiming to reach the green vicinity in regulation, setting up what’s formally known as the pitch shot.

Pitching onto the Green

The most lofted irons have sole angles that help the club bounce off tight lies and steep angles into the ball. This makes them perfect for pitch shots. When 10-30 yards from the edge of the green, players grab wedges to pitch the ball high into the air and stop it quickly on the putting surface. Smooth tempo and accelerating through the pitch will impart the proper golf shot shape. Specific wedge pitch shots even have nicknames like a “flop” shot when using the most lofted wedge to play a very high soft shot that floats down.

Chipping from Tight Lies

Just off, but not far from the green’s edge a tight lie in thicker grass or a bunker will call for a smaller swing with less loft. Chip shots incorporate more golf swing fundamentals like compression and solid contact to fire lower shots that release out towards the target. Basic chips may only fly 10% of the total distance before rolling the remainder. Finesse and precision are required, as the landing area by the hole is small on fast greens. Iconic masters of the bump and run chip shot were Gene Sarazen, Sam Snead and Seve Ballesteros.

Lag Putting

Once on the putting green, the main priority is to avoid three-putts and finish the hole. Long-range putts first focus on lag putting. Lag putting is simply trying to get the first putt close to the hole to set up an easy second putt. This terminology reflects the idea of putting within a player’s efficient striking “lag”.

What’s considered a successful lag putt distance varies, but should have 98% make percentage from the resulting next putt location. Great green readers who lag putt well minimize three-putts, saving strokes.

Reading the Breaks

The art of reading greens is a lifetime pursuit in golf. Subtleties in terrain, grain direction and areas of higher/lower growth require careful reading to predict breaks and curvature on putts. The best putters combine visual reads with experiential feel and pace control over different break types. Some putts break dramatically more than others.

Downhill putts accelerate more than uphill. Sidehill putts break towards the lower side. Triple break putts curve in one direction than the other on the way to the hole. Careful green reading reveals the breaks before stroking putts.

Playing from the Rough

Missing the short grass of the fairway requires playing from the rough. Uncontrolled lies in thicker grass and weeds make it hard to make solid contact. Spin and distance are reduced hitting shots from the rough compared to the fairway. Powerful clubhead speed and sharp blades slice through the grass best from golf shots out of the rough.

Tee shots into high grass and side lies under trees also demand specialty shots like punches and low runners to escape with the best result possible. Scrambling pars and bogeys from trouble requires recovery shots and lower expectations.

Punching Under Tree Limbs

Mature trees line most golf property fairways providing beauty and challenge. Major limbs overhang with tree canopies that jut into potential shot lines towards greens. Punch shots played very low and boring straight forward can advance underneath troublesome limbs. Keeping the elbows rigidly tucked in towards the core generates narrow, repeatable arcs even with six inches of clearance.

Flattening the shoulder plane compresses even lower. Whereas most golf shots play up on driver, punch shots sweep the ball as much as an inch behind it. Staying left helps batches punch through limbs towards temporary safety.

Elevated Tee Shots

Many premier golf courses feature multiple elevated tee boxes per hole taking advantage of dramatic views and land formations. Peaking from 60-100 feet higher tee shots play more downhill initially before leveling in descent angle halfway to their landing. Increased visibility aids strategy and targeting lines.

Gravitational physics also allow elevated drives to launch higher with extra hang time and roll out downslope. Architects intentionally build thrilling elevated tee boxes both seaside and mountaintop providingsignature golf shot moments players remember. Major championships capitalize showcasing iconic holes and shots hitting from high tee complexes.

Playing from Uneven Lies

Not every lie in golf presents a perfectly level set up position. Sloping lies often require creativity and skill to handle uneven footwork. Sidehill lies angle left or right placing one foot above the other. Controlling balance and limiting swaying laterally back and forth presents another variable. Other shots feature uphill or downhill slopes that also influence shot trajectory and compression.

Professional tour players practice extensively from uneven lies at ranges. They learn to make centered, consistent contact from unlevel positions and slopes they’ll encounter during play. It’s amazing how they adapt swing mechanics shot-to-shot depending on the lie.

Splash Shots from Bunkers

Probably the most specialized shot in golf comes from dangerous bunkers. Sand traps require exploding splash shots that eject the ball out onto the green. Digging inches behind the ball blasts sand forward then up into the back of the ball launching it high. Wedges with wide flanges prevent digging too deep in wet sand situations.

Explosive blasts require perfect sand conditions, matching gear and rapid momentum through impact. Controlling face angles then sends shots precisely towards tucked hole locations cutting corners. Mastering solid bunker play makes good players great. Exceptional short game specialists save countless strokes getting up and down from greenside sand saves.

Draws and Fades Shot Shaping

Working shots both directions in the air confounds opponents in match play. Controlling shot curvature by intentionally drawing or fading the golf ball reinforces complete skill mastery. A 10-15 yard bend left or right dials in more pins. Draws gently start right then curve back left in mid flight. Fading shots start left then drift right into play.

Guiding curvature starts with matching the swing path and clubface angles. For a draw: swing slightly left – aim left to curve back. Fade pattern has the path right of target and clubface aimed at target tricking it right. Flight curvature makes straight boring target practice obsolete.


What are the shots in golf called?

Some common names for golf shots include:

  • Drive – The tee shot struck with the driver, typically the first shot on a hole
  • Approach shot – A long-range shot intended to land the ball on the green
  • Pitch – A short shot (typically with a wedge) that flies high and lands softly
  • Chip – A low-running shot that rolls more than it flies
  • Putt – A shot that rolls on the green, usually with the putter
  • Punch – A low-flying shot played under tree branches
  • Flop – A very high soft shot with a highly lofted wedge

What are strokes called in golf?

Strokes in golf are the number of times a player swings at the ball to get it in the hole. The total strokes taken on hole are counted up and written on the scorecard. Other names for strokes in golf include:

  • Swings
  • Hits
  • Shots

What is 6 under par called?

In golf scoring, if a player shoots a score 6 strokes under par on a given course or hole, this is called shooting “6-under” or being “6 under”. Some other ways to say it are:

  • 6 under par
  • 6 below par
  • 6 down
  • 6 under score

What do you call a 2 on a par 5?

When a golfer scores a 2 on a par 5 hole, this rare accomplishment is known as an “albatross” or sometimes a “double eagle”. It’s an impressive feat to reach the green in just 2 shots on a long par 5, then sink the long putt for the albatross 2 score.


Those represent some of the most prominent and interesting golf names for shots used in golf instruction, course management and shot creation. So much richness exists in the golf terminology around strategizing, executing and scoring across this historic game. As with any specialty, insider language conveys essential subtleties for success. Hopefully exploring some key golf shot terms provides useful context and appreciation.

Mastering these shot shapes, trajectories and scenarios unlocks excellence on the links. Striving golfers work hard perfecting their diverse shot making capabilities along with holistic swing skills towards shooting lower scores and making more putts. Great golf shots reward in the moment, and build confidence memories carrying forward.

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