An alphabetical list of terms that are used in the wacky game of golf

The list was extensive. I had no idea there were so many terms used in the game of golf. As I perused the alphabetical list, my (some would say simple) mind became intrigued. Would I find words that would make me wince? Would a term make me smile and remember an incident on the course? Would I find any words that I had never heard before?

Turns out the answers to those questions were yes, yes and yes!

I decided to pull one term from each letter of the alphabet and put my spin on it. Over the next couple of weeks you will get to see how many terms you are familiar with. If some of these words do not make you recall a special moment in your golf career, I will be very surprised.

So we will start with A and end with Z, though to be truthful the list I read did not have anything for three of our alphabet’s letters. Then again, the author probably has not followed me and my friends around a golf course.

Yes, we do make up terms occasionally!

Albatross — If you are a serious golfer, this term should be familiar to you though you likely have not recorded one. An albatross means you played a hole at 3-under par. Though this usually happens on a par 5, it is not limited to that type of hole.

There are a few par 6 holes available. An albatross on a par 6 would be a score of three. Similarly, holing out your tee shot on a par 4 technically is also an albatross, though I’m guessing most golfers would claim a hole-in-one before suggesting that they got an albatross.

I do know a couple of guys who recorded an albatross, though I was not there to witness it. One fellow holed out his second shot on a par 5 with an 8-iron. That proves two things. First, the hole was too short. Second, I’m jealous!

The other golfer got his on a par 4, the ninth at Nature Trails. This hole could be reached with less than a driver. The word “could” is used as Nature Trails is no longer open for play!

Will I ever get an albatross? I have a much better chance of seeing the bird itself.

Banana Ball — This one made me smile. Many golfers have (or still do) hit a banana ball. Some by design, most because they can’t figure out what’s causing it. A banana ball is when a right handed golfer hits the ball with a left to right flight. Again, some do so with minimal movement. Usually though we use the term fade to describe their actions.

A banana ball for most of us refers to the one that slices 40 or 50 yards. That is not a problem necessarily as long as you know how much it’s going to move. A buddy of mine had one of the biggest banana balls I’ve ever seen and it led to the LONGEST drive I’ve ever seen.

We were playing the 11th hole at the BGSU course (another course that is closed) which runs parallel to Interstate 75. Because his banana ball frequently sliced multiple yards, he had to aim for the highway which he proceeded to do. This time however, the ball refused to “banana” and when we lost sight of it, the ball was southbound on I-75. This drive could have been measured in miles as opposed to yards!

Chicken Wing — I’ve seen this term before, but it’s usually on the menu of KFC! Apparently in golf parlance, it’s used when a right handed golfer’s left elbow goes outward at impact — toward the target. Apparently that elbow is supposed to fold inward. Thus the term is not complimentary.

The only thing I concern myself with in terms of my left elbow is that it doesn’t hurt when I make impact. Other than that I really don’t care where the elbow goes.

Duck Hook — The definition for a shot that starts left of target and curves severely from right to left for a right handed golfer has a synonym. The duck hook is also known as a snap hook. For those of you who have experienced this “uh oh” shot, one is the same as the other.

Yet, I had a friend try to tell me there was a difference between the two. As near as I can figure the difference was in how far the shot went from the tee before “ducking.” Either way — you won’t like the results of this shot.

Even Par — When a golfer uses the exact recommended number of shots to finish a hole he records a par. Even par for a round of golf is really good for the amateur golfer. I have actually done this twice in my life.

More often though when my score is even par, it is because I have not started playing the round yet!

Ferrules — Several years ago I attended a Heidelberg football game. A college student was manning the P.A. on this day and came up with a gem following a play. With several penalty flags lying on the turf, the officials met for several minutes. They then marched a penalty off against one team only to turn around and go the other way. This happened about four times before they put the ball in play without explanation.

The student then cued the microphone. He said, “If you can figure out what just happened you are a better man than me Gunga Din!”

If you know what ferrules are, you are a better man than me…

Seriously, this was a new one for me. Ferrules are the small part attached to the club just above the hosel (where the shaft enters the clubhead). Primarily cosmetic, most are plastic and either black or brown.

Well, there you have it. Next week we will continue are trip through the alphabet. For now, I have to run. I want to see what color my ferrules are!

I’ll let you know.

Al Stephenson is The A-T bowling columnist.

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