Golfers seem to have their own jargon, sayings and expressions, and some are downright hilarious. For example, let’s take the term “chili dip” as used in golf as opposed to a party snack. It applies to hitting well behind the ball while taking a big slice of turf; also the terms hitting the ball “fat” and a “chunk” shot describe the blunder, as well as “hitting the big ball (Earth) before the little one.”
Some of those awful shots (but not all) are produced by “hackers,” “duffers” or “chops.” Although patently uncharitable to the animal world, golfers often refer to golf courses that are in rather poor condition as a “dog track” or a “goat farm,” while calling the short fringe around the green “frog hair,” and they use “chicken wing” to describe a swing with a flying elbow.
We all know what a “worm-burner” looks like. And a shot with a driver or fairway wood that darts left (or right for a left-hander) is a “duck-hook” or in short form a “quacker.”
If you play a ball to bail out as far away from a hazard as possible, you wind up in “chicken flats.” But one compliment to the animal world is supplied by our term “albatross” for a stunning 2 on a par 5. Golfers even evoke military terms like “Army golf” when a chop hits left-right, left-right and going “bunker to bunker” is a “Hitler” shot. Of course, a sand bunker is also known as “kitty litter.” And a wild slice is called a “banana ball.” Beer? “Swing oil,” or “birdie juice.”
In golf we have numerous expressions for the “game within a game,” putting. A “knee-knocker” is a putt (maybe 3 to 4 feet) that is not quite a “gimme,” but rather a “tester,” and once holed a player might mumble “for the doubters.” Putts are hard to make on “Velcro” (very slow) greens. When a player’s ball does a 360 around the hole and spins out, you might hear a partner claim, check your pockets you were “robbed.”
If one decides to putt from well off the green, he is choosing to use his “Texas wedge.” That shouldn’t be confused with the well-known “foot-wedge.” One of the dreaded afflictions that can beset golfers happens when a person cannot seem to gain control of his hands and arms with his putter, and ends up flinching and nervously stabbing at the ball: this painful putting disease is called the “yips.” And when all the pressure is on in the final hole of a match a short miss with the putter usually means someone “choked.”
Those new to the game may need to become acquainted with some of the more regular slang sayings for common occurrences. A smack with a driver well beyond where you may normally drive the ball is “nuked,” but when you “air-mail” a shot long over the green it isn’t good. A strike off the inside shank of the iron shaft that goes diagonally instead of straight is known as a “hosel rocket.” Hitting your splendid approach shot on the green is, of course, getting to the “dance floor,” but alas you may be a long way from the band. If you follow that up with a “three jack” (3 putts), it’s a downer. Making a par after hitting a tree may earn you a few dollars for a “barkie,” but misdirecting your ball into the long, heavy, deep rough many call the “cabbage” may result in a round-ruining “snowman” – an 8. Likewise a shot that splashed into a pond - it’s a ball that has been “rinsed.” That shot was probably the consequent of hitting your ball way right when you tried to hit left, referred to as a “double cross.”
Then there are many tellingly funny golfing references to famous persons and celebrities. Two popular ones are a “Rush Limbaugh” that is hit too far to the right, and a shot in the other direction is “way more left than Nancy Pelosi.” A hard hook to the left (or pull to the right for left-handers) we call a “Thurman Munson,” meaning a “dead yank.” When you know “the ball took off great, but just disappeared,” it’s an “Amilia Earhart.” A “Jimi Hendrix” is a drive that got really high but didn’t go very long. My very favorite is when playing partners call my drive a “Linda Ronstadt,” which translates to “blew by you.”
Dr. Charlie Blanchard is a licensed psychologist specializing in sports and leadership. Contact him at email@example.com.