Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches

PGA National (Champion Course)



Good player slang

The scratch golfer glossary: How to understand and talk like a stick

February 28, 2023
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There are ways to identify a low handicap beyond quality ball-striking and a reliable short game. They share certain mannerisms and habits (which we’ve covered here), but beyond that, they speak a golf language that occasionally flies over the heads of average players.

We’ve identified 15 examples of good player slang, not only so you can decipher your scratch buddy’s -isms but so you can start talking like a low handicap, too. Whether describing an intended shot or talking to your ball, these phrases will help you sound like the player you want to be.

1. “50 flag”

Scratch players are all about efficiency in their language, so when you ask them to shoot the distance, don’t expect a formal “You’ve got 150 yards to the pin.” Expect a simple “50” or “50 flag,” and it’s up to you to decipher the rest.

2. “Hold it against the wind”

When the wind is pumping 20 off the right, a good player will likely try and hit a fade to effectively play a straight shot. To take this one into plus-handicap territory, shorten to “I’m gonna hold it.”

3. “Sling it in”

Under certain circumstances, a scratch player might also try and ride a heavy breeze. If a pin is tucked in the back left of the green and the wind is off the right, expect a sweeping hook and a “I’m gonna sling it.”

4. “What’s the cover?”

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Matt Marriott

Whether you're caddying for a stick or you’re on rangefinder duty, be prepared when you get this question. Translation: What is the number to carry the lip of the bunker/water hazard/front of the green? Calmly respond “40 cover, 55 flag,” and you’re now part of the club.

5. “Jumper!”

Typically delivered milliseconds after contact from a so-so lie in the rough, an acknowledgement of a flier lie not only signals you’re a low handicap, but it helps provide some context when your ball air mails the green.

6. “Drive it in there”

If you’ve got a long pitch shot with a large upslope between you and the hole, tell your buddies you’re going to drive it in there. Regardless of if your low pitch actually lands in the slope, perfectly killing the speed, you’ll have spoken like a short-game magician.

7. “Golf shot”

Perhaps the greatest compliment you can receive from a good player. Delivered when you played the shot required and executed perfectly.

8. “Two over”

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Karl Hendon

Scratch players are thinking of their score in terms of how many over or under par they are. Ask them what they shot on the front and expect a “two over" and not “38.”

9. “I’ll flight this one”

When playing into a strong headwind, a good player will try and lower the trajectory of the shot to stay below the wind. Related: “Knock it down” and “Hit a flat one.”

10. “145, playing 165”

Many scratch golfers don’t think of wind in terms of “one club” or “two clubs.” They’re calculating a specific number that they think the shot will play factoring in the wind, and they’ll determine the club from there.

11. “Hit a bleeder”

It’s become the go-to tee shot on tour in recent years: the baby fade. This shot doesn’t move excessively from left-to-right, but it does fall or “bleed” to the right. On an approach shot, you might hear “Bleed it in there.”

12. “One yard”

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Ken Redding

This is a Tiger-ism as much as it is a common phrase for low handicaps. Sure, this may be tough to adopt if your shots tend to go more than a few yards offline, but if you’ve hit a decent shot hoping it’ll turn out great, beg for that one yard.

13. “Feel it in there”

You’ll hear it when players are between numbers. The 8-iron won’t get there, so they’re taking the 7 and going to just feel it.

14. “I’m going to hit a chippy one”

Maybe there’s a strong headwind, and they’re worried the 7-iron will balloon into the wind. If they take the 6, odds are they’re going to “chip it.” A sibling of the “flighted” shot, the chippy one is an even easier swing, producing a very low ball flight.

15. “I’ll jump on it”

But maybe they took the 8-iron anyway, knowing it’ll struggle to get there. They’re going to try and jump on it. Expect a violent lash and a recoil.