Monday, February 22, 2016

Golf Vocabulary

Dear readers,

Some of you may notice that I occasionally edit your questions with regard to golf terminology. My purpose in doing this is to assure that your question is understood by every Lou and Lulu who reads it.

Don’t feel badly; you have lots of company. Certain terms are often misused (by golf commentators on television as well as the general public). I have listed three often-misused terms below that I find troublesome when I try to understand your questions.

Playing partner
This is a strange term that I find particularly confusing when I try to answer a reader’s question; I am never certain whether this so-called “playing partner” is the player’s actual partner or simply another person playing in the same group. I think we all know what a “partner” is – a player who is on your side, a member of your team. So what should we call the other players in our group that are not our actual partners?
• In singles match play there are two people competing: the player, and the player’s opponent. In match play formats where you have a partner, there are four people (two teams) competing: the player, his partner, and their two opponents (who are partners of each other).
• In stroke play, all players in the competition are called competitors. Any competitors playing in your group are your fellow competitors. And if the format is a team competition, one of those competitors is your partner.

What it is: Foursomes are a form of match play and stroke play in which a team of two people play one ball. This format is more commonly called “alternate shot.” Rule 29 explains the rules for foursomes.
What it is not: A foursome is not a group of four golfers playing together. I would suggest you call those players your “group.”

Through the green
This term refers to all areas of the course except: (1) the teeing ground and the putting green of the hole you are playing, and (2) all hazards (meaning water hazards and bunkers). Whenever I use this term in a column, I try to remember to define it, because I understand that many players find the term confusing.

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of studying (and memorizing) the Definitions in the front of the rulebook. Golf terminology is specific to the game; its meaning often differs from what you may be accustomed to in ordinary usage. Understanding the Rules of Golf relies on a thorough knowledge of the vocabulary of golf. You may have noticed, when you read a Rule, that a number of terms are written in italics. These italics are not for emphasis – they are there to remind you that the term is one that is defined in the Definitions section.