Swing Terms

Slice vs. Hook

When a ball travels to the left and then goes right, this is known as a slice. A slice occurs when the path of the club turns out and then turns in when the ball is struck. A hook is the exact opposite, meaning the ball goes right then turns left. It's caused by an outward turn of the club when the ball is struck. Normally, the ball should be struck straight on, but a slice or hook occurs when the ball is not.

Note: Slices and hooks work the exact opposite for left-handed players. A slice is to the left and a hook is to the right.

Thin Shot vs. Fat Shot

When a ball is hit thin, it means the ball was hit toward the top, instead of in the center. This can occur if you rise up before striking the ball, either lifting your hands or shoulders, causing you to clip the top of the ball. However, if you dip too low and come down at the ball, you will most likely hit behind the ball causing a fat shot.

Note: Thin shots and fats shots usually only occur when hitting irons.

Scoring Terms

Basics of Scoring

In the game of golf, the lower the score, the better. Basically, you count the number of shots it takes you to put the golf ball in the hole. Each course designates a certain number you should score - a par 3, 4 or 5 - for each of the 18 holes. If you shoot over the number suggested, then your score is over par. However, shooting under par is the best. For example, let's say you play a hole that is designated a par 4, and you take six shots to get the ball in the hole. This means you shot two over par.

Eagle, Birdie, Par & Bogie

I'm not really sure who came up with these terms, but they represent how much over or under par is scored on a hole. An eagle means you shot two under par on the hole, and is virtually one of the best scores. For example, a three on a par 5 would be an eagle. A birdie equals one under par, such as shooting a three on a par 4. Par is par, meaning you shot whatever par was on the hole, including a four on a par 4. Bogie represents one over par like shooting a four on a par 3. However, two over par equals a double bogie, three over equals a triple bogie, and so on and so forth. Don't worry about keeping track of over and under par in the beginning. It will just lead to frustration as you will most likely be way over par.


As if you thought golf couldn't get any tougher, the golf gods blessed us with hazards. Hazards on the golf course include water, thick brush or forest, and out of bounds areas. Water and certain areas of plant life are usually marked with a red stake denoting the hazard. The red stake represents a one-stroke penalty if you hit your ball into that area. Also, the ball should be placed in play near the area the original ball went into the hazard. For example, let's say you hit your second shot into the water. When you place your ball in play near where your ball went in the water, you will now be hitting your fourth shot. I like to think of it as one shot in and one shot out of the hazard. Then add those strokes and continue. Out of bounds areas are a bit trickier and usually marked by taller white stakes. If you hit a ball in a designated out of bounds area, you must re-hit your shot from the same place and take a two-stroke penalty. For instance, your tee-shot slices and goes out of bounds. You have to re-hit your tee-shot and take a two-stroke penalty, which means you will then be hitting your fourth shot. Unfortunately, you can't place your ball near where the ball went out of bounds.

Ronny Mobley

The Expert

Ronny Mobley grew up cutting greens and fairways on a 9-hole course in Brundidge, Ala. He played in his first golf tournament at the age of 15. Mobley attended Troy University in Alabama on a golf scholarship, and played on two national champion teams. He played on the PGA Tour from 1978 to 1979. After a career as a small business owner and later in banking, he is playing professionally as a senior and teaching lessons.