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Golf Vocabulary 101: What you need to know

Saturday, March 5th, 2022 12:47 | By
Youngster Njoroge Kibugu. PHOTO/COURTESY

As the 2022 Magical Kenya Open Golf Championship heads to its last day, lovers of the sport have to throw in a golfy word here and there. And you look smarter when you actually understand the terms.

Let's get in classroom, and learn!

Golf is played on a specially-designed course consisting of a series of numbered holes. Some holes are short, just two or three hundred metres, while others are longer, up to five or six hundred metres away.

Each hole has a tee-off area, or tee box, from which the first shot is played. Then a long fairway with short grass leads to a small area of very short grass called a green.

There's a small hole in the green called a cup in which a pin stands with a flag flying on it. The objective of the game is to hit the ball and get it into the cup with as few shots as possible.

On both sides of the fairway, and around the green, areas of long grass called the rough are usually found. Areas thick with trees and bushes are also common, along with hazards such as bunkers, lakes, creeks and gullies. Most golf courses have 18 holes, though some only have nine.

For each hole, a number known as par indicates the number of shots a very good player would normally take to complete the hole. Short holes are usually "par 3", medium-length holes are "par 4", while longer holes are "par 5".

If a player completes a hole in one shot less than par, they have made a birdie. Two shots under par is an eagle and three shots under par is an albatross. One shot over par is a bogey, two shots over par is a double bogey and three shots over par is a triple bogey. If we add up the pars of all the holes on an 18-hole course, we find the par for the whole course.

In most formats of the game, the winner is the player who completes a round, or a series of rounds, with the lowest number of strokes.

Above the hole: Refers to a ball on any sloping green positioned such that the next putt is downhill. Downhill putts are harder to judge for speed and slope, and also riskier, so a golfer aims at keeping his ball ‘below the hole ‘ at all times.

Condor: Probably the rarest of all scores in golf: four under par on a hole, ie a hole in one on a par five. Only four examples have ever been recorded, three of them by ‘cutting the corner’ on par fives with a dogleg, which considerably shortens the hole. Also called a ‘triple-eagle’ or double-albatross’ in the US.

Kikuyu: Fast-growing, thick African grass that likes full sunshine and hot weather. Not suited to woodland or temperate climates. A feature of courses in southern Africa, requiring great skill to play from around the greens.

Fore: Warning shout when a shot may endanger another player.

Four-ball: Group of two pairs of golfers recording the better-ball score of each pair based on gross or net scores.

Hole out: To finish a hole by getting the ball in the cup or hole. Usually done with a putt, but sometimes with a chip from off the green, and occasionally with a full shot.

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