Every year, I am filled with anticipation, excitement and hope for the end of winter. I cautiously allow my thoughts to wander as I daydream about sunshine, blue skies, warm weather and of course the beginning of the golf season. I scour the ads from Golf Stores, Golf Channel affiliates and Golf Pros for the latest and greatest golf tips and equipment promising to make my drives go longer, straighter, and consistent so that I will drive that ball 200 yards smack dab down the middle of the fairway.
Every year I resolve to go to the driving range at least two times a week and play multiple golf courses in order to challenge myself and lower my handicap, which by the way has hovered around the same anemic number for the past couple of years. This year I’ve added another resolution, I am going to familiarize myself, and of course REMEMBER, the most frequently used golf definitions.
Stop laughing! I know what you must be thinking, “how can someone who professes to love the game of golf not remember the lingo?” I often ask myself the same thing but one fact I’ve learned throughout my life is that I’m not unique and if I have difficulty keeping all of the terminology in check, others might too.
So, in my attempt to conquer this resolution I decided that I will make a conscious effort to periodically review the most commonly used golf terminology. As Norman Vincent Peale said “Repetition of the same thought or physical action develops into a habit which, repeated frequently enough, becomes an automatic reflex.”
Hmm….. One can only hope…..
1. Handicap? Do I even need one? I’ll discuss this in a few.
2. Ace? Is this the same as in playing cards? Of course not, an ACE in golf is a hole in one.
3. Par: The score a good player would expect to make on a hole. For example, based on the course or specified hole’s rating, on a par 4 hole it is assumed a good golfer should be able to complete the hole in 4 strokes.
4. Albatross or Double Eagle: Three strokes UNDER par on a hole. Example: If the hole is a par 4, a fantastic golfer would need a hole in one to have an albatross or double eagle.
5. Eagle: Two strokes under par on a hole. Same example, if a hole is a Par 4, the great golfer would need to make the hole in 2 strokes for a score of 2 for that hole.
6. Birdie: One stroke under par on a hole. A good golfer would take 3 strokes to birdie the hole on a par 4 hole.
7. Bogey, one stroke over par. The still good golfer, or in my case, the “I would be the jumping up and down with excitement golfer”, would have a score of 5 on that hole, instead of the 4 strokes the good golfer took to par the hole.
8. Double Bogey: Two strokes over par on a hole. On the same par 4 example, the golfer’s score would be 6 for that hole. If I was that golfer I would still be doing the dance of joy with a score of 6, so it’s all relative!
9. Double par: On the same par 4, for example, if by the 8th stroke you have not finished the hole, pick up the ball and X out of the hole. Your score on this hole would be 8X.
Handicap? Do I really need one? No, you don’t but let me share with you why and when a handicap comes into play.
The United States Golf Association devised the golf handicap system to level the playing field between great golfers, good golfers and just plain old average golfers, like me. The actual calculations are above most of our heads so suffice it to say, if formulas pique your interest you can delve deeper regarding the calculations.
The most important takeaway is that in order to establish a handicap you have to play 10 rounds of 18-hole golf on a regulation sized golf course, or 20 rounds (the front 9 or back 9 nine) of a regulation sized golf course, (Executive golf courses are usually 9 holes but normally do not have enough yardage to qualify).
By establishing a handicap, you can play in tournaments and/or outings requiring a handicap but more importantly you can measure your progress to date as the handicap consists of your score and the course’s rating. At the end of the round you and another member of your twosome, threesome or foursome, must both sign the scorecard attesting to its accuracy.
The best example of a handicap explanation I came across was in Golf for Dummies, by Gary McCord. He states “Suppose your ten scores average out at exactly 100, in other words, for your first ten rounds of golf you’ve hit 1,000 shots. If par for the 18-hole course you played is 72, your average score is 28 over par. That figure 28, is your handicap. Every time you play from then on, your handicap adjusts to account for your most recent score.” Most golf clubs have computers that do the calculations for you or as with the LPGA Amateur Golf Association it’s on-line, The assumption is that once you have a handicap, your handicap will drop substantially as you become more proficient in the game of golf. Have patience! I’ve had a handicap for the last three years and I can honestly say my handicap goes down in fractions so not to worry if it takes a while to see a vast improvement in your handicap.
In the next installment of my blog I will delve more into what is meant by Pace of Play.
Golf is a socially addictive, frustrating, invigorating, challenging and inspiring sport. I could never have imagined the role golf has played in both my professional and personal lives. Joining a league such as the LPGA Amateur Golf Association was and is the icing on the cake. League play is a wonderful opportunity to meet great friends, play with golfers on your level whether you’re a beginner, intermediate or advanced player and provides the means to play golf on a consistent basis.
If you’d like to learn more about golf, golf networking or joining a league please click on any of the links above or copy and paste the links below in your browser:
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See you on the course!