Anyone who has played or watched golf is well-aware of the game's wide variety of amusing and entertaining terms. Using the PGA Golf Glossary and Golf Terms, the AtTheTee.com team has curated a list of our favorites to feature in this blog post. For each term, we will give the official PGA definition, and then provide a few tidbits about the history and usage of the word. We guarantee our picks will have you rolling on the floor (or fairway) laughing!
PGA Definition: “A swing flaw in which the lead elbow bends at an angle pointed away from the body, usually resulting in a blocked or pushed shot.”
Example: Once Jack’s PGA Professional saw him, he knew the cause of Jack’s loss of power was his chicken wing position at impact.”
In an article on GolfWRX.com, PGA Master Professional Dennis Clark addresses the problem of the “dreaded” chicken wing. According to Mr. Clark, fixing your chicken wing comes down to “learn[ing] to ‘lay the shaft down,’ or flatten your transition. Much like slicing; if you want to develop a more inside path, you have to get rid of the slice.” For more of Mr. Clark’s advice on fixing chicken wings (no, not the food), click here.
PGA Definition: “A poor shot caused by hitting the turf well behind the ball, resulting in a fat shot.”
Example: The defending champion’s defense ended when he chunked his tee shot on the par-3 16th and hit the ball into the pond guarding the green.”
According to MyGolfInstructor.com, “fat, heavy, chunky, behind, chili dip…whatever you want to call it…it’s not good. Hitting the ground before the ball hurts! It hurts you physically, but it really hurts your score as you lose significant distance.” To fix your chunk, you should ensure that “the bottom point of your arc is [in front of your] ball, rather than [behind it]. When hitting most shots in golf, you want CBG (club, ball, ground) contact, in that order.” For more on chunk shots, click here.
PGA Definition: “A lie when the ball is sitting down slightly, usually in a small depression.”
Example: “He had a difficult shot because he had to play from a cuppy lie in the fairway.”
PGA Definition: “A shot in which the hands remain relatively passive in the hitting area, resulting in a shot that flies a shorter distance than it normally would.”
Example: “He dead-handed a 5-iron on the par 3, which confused his fellow players.”
In an informative article in Golf Magazine’s online component, Golf Online and Golf Magazine writer Dave Pelz explains why dead hands happens in the first place. Mr. Pelz explains that “if you are swinging with dead hands, those muscles have only two jobs: to cock your wrists during the backswing and hold the club so it doesn’t fly out of your hands during the rest of the swing.”
Dead hands generally occur when you feel pressured or nervous, and avoiding them centers around keeping the “incredibly strong muscles in your fingers, hands, wrists, and forearms [from] kill[ing] your short game touch.” In short, “the best solution to develop a short game that will stand up under pressure is to not use your muscles to power your short game. Instead, let the power you need to get the ball to the hole come from the energy provided by a free-flowing swing. For more of Mr. Pelz’s advice, click here.
PGA Definition: “The point in match play when a player is up in a match by the same number of holes that remain.”
Example: “When Lanny Wadkins had his opponent dormie three, it seemed like the Americans would win the Ryder Cup.”
According to AboutSports.com Golf Expert Brent Kelley, “dormie is a term that is most commonly heard during team match play competitions such as the Ryder Cup, President’s Cup, and Solheim Cup. In those competitions, players who finish 18 holes tied do not continue playing in order to break the tie. Instead, such matches are halved. In match play tournaments in which halves are used, the leading golfer is guaranteed at least a halve when the match reaches dormie, and the trailing golfer cannot win once the match goes dormie.” For more, click here.
PGA Definition: “A shot that flies sharply from right to left for right-handed players. It is usually hit unintentionally, since it is difficult to control.”
Example: “He hit a duck hook from the tee and the ball flew out of bounds.”
GolfSamurai.com pinpoints “a closed clubface at impact” the “direct cause of duck hook. There are two types of cause. [First, the] clubface is closed at impact [and the] swing path is inside-in, [or second, the] clubface is extremely closed [and the] swing path is either inside-out or inside-in. Golfers hitting duck hooks tend to hit a hook or draw on regular shots.” To fix your duck hooks, “you need to understand that your clubface is closed at impact if you swing inside-in. [Then], look at your grip [and] rotate your left hand to the left until you see two-and-a-half knuckles of your left hand. Also, pay attention to your right hand [and] make sure the “V” formed by your right thumb and index finger points more toward your right ear.” For more on fixing your duck hook, click here.
PGA Definition: “A description of a shot when the clubhead strikes the turf behind the ball, resulting in poor contact and a shot that comes up well short of the target.”
Example: She hit a fat shot from the tee on the par 3 and, as the ball sank from sight in the pond, so did her chances of victory.”
According to Mr. Kelley, a fat shot is “not something the golfer ever wants to do (except with bunker shots), and it can lead to a layer of turf/sod coming between the clubface and the ball. This kills much of the energy of the shot, resulting in the ball traveling shorter distances. The more severely ‘fat’ the ball is hit (meaning the more turf is between the club and ball), the shorter distance the ball will travel.”
Essentially, “a fat shot can be thought as the opposite of a thin shot. And while a thin shot, for very skilled golfers, might sometimes be played intentionally, a fat shot never is, and the results of a fat shot are rarely good.” To learn more from Mr. Kelley, visit this link.
PGA Definition: “The slang term for a buried lie in the sand.”
Example: To her dismay, when Nancy Lopez reached the bunker she saw she was facing a fried egg lie.”
MyGolfInstructor.com describes the fried egg as “one of the most feared shots in the game of golf…everything has a degree of difficulty, and this is no simple shot, but knowing what to do can make things [much easier]…a buried lie or fried egg is simply a bad break. [The goal] is always to get the ball OUT! If you can accomplish that, you’ve done well. Even if you haven’t advanced it far or knocked it up tight to the pin, [you’ve done well]. The only difficulty lies in the fact that it’s hard to get backspin and [make] the ball stop.” For more information on the fried egg (again, not the food), click here.
PGA Definition: “The custom of hitting a second ball–without penalty–on a hole, usually the first tee.”
Example: “When Bob hit a terrible shot off of the first tee, his friends let him take a mulligan).”
Although the official PGA Rules do not permit mulligans, they are sometimes taken by a group of friends out for an enjoyable round at the links. PGA Professional Bob Denney writes that mulligans have “become part of the game. Some golfers apply their own ‘rules’ that the mulligan will be in ‘play’ once per round, or just at the number one tee. [According to the USGA], the mulligan became rooted in the game’s lexicon sometime between the late 1920s and mid-1930s. During that time, Canadian-born amateur David Bernard Mulligan had established himself as a prominent member of clubs [and] had a regular club foursome.”
According to golf legend, Mulligan’s “partners allowed [him] to hit a second ball [one the first tee] after mishitting his drive.” Mulligan claimed that he “was so provoked with [himself] that, on impulse, [he] stooped over and put down another ball. The other three looked at [him] with considerable puzzlement, and one of them asked, ‘What are you doing?’ ‘I’m taking a correction shot,’ [he] replied. His playing partner asked what he called that. ‘Thinking fast, [he] told him that [he] called it a “mulligan.” They laughed and let me play a second ball.’” Denney concludes by explaining that “thus, a ‘Mulligan’ found its niche along in our culture [and] its popularity thrives because of who we are–lovers of a good story, and a term that somehow fits.” To learn more, click here.
PGA Definition: “A motion or several motions designed to keep a player relaxed at address and help establish a smooth pace in the takeaway and swing.”
Example: “His father told him to try to copy Sam Snead’s waggle).”
In Improving Your Golf Swing for Dummies, professional golfer and author Gary McCord emphasizes that “good rhythm in your golf swing doesn’t just happen. You need to set the tone for your swing with your waggle. A waggle is a motion with the wrists in which the hands stay pretty much steady over the ball and the clubhead moves back a foot or two, as if starting the swing.” According to McCord, waggling “serves three main purposes.” First, it “is a rehearsal of the crucial opening segment of the backswing,” “can set the tone for the pace of your swing,” and keeps you from “start[ing] from a static position.” For more information, visit this link.