Few people have ever thought that what golf needs are more strange and confusing terms floating around. And yet, they keep coming anyway.
But not to worry, because as always, Golf Digest is here to help. In an attempt to make golf less confusing than it already is, here’s a quick breakdown for some noteworthy words and terms that we’ve seen pop up with some regularity in 2023, so you won’t have to pretend to understand them the next time they appear …
1. Spin Loft
Just know it as the stat that Viktor Hovland and his coach, Golf Digest Top 50 Teacher Joe Mayo, used to transform Hovland’s short game. In technical terms, Spin Loft is a metric that measures between the loft of the club at impact and the angle of attack. A high spin loft means more backspin; a low spin loft means less. Lots of spin loft is generally good for short-game shots, and low spin loft is good for drives. Hovland’s spin loft was too low on his chips, so the more he increased his angle of attack, the better his chipping got.
Not technically a new addition to the mythical golf dictionary, but a revitalized one worth including. After a slow drip of players adopting the unconventional method in recent years, Lucas Glover studied some YouTube videos of Adam Scott using it, put in in play and won back-to-back weeks. Now Willy “Broomsticks” Zalatoris, is seeking the same solution in his return from injury.
A Tiger Woods-popularized term that he used to explain his claim to Scottie Scheffler that he hit the ball his best in his career when he didn’t take divots. Being “zeroed” means a golfer swings with some combination of their swing path, clubface angle, face-to-path, angle of attack or other metrics to zero, as measured by a launch monitor.
4. Up shoot spin cut
The second Tiger-ism added to this year’s lexicon is a term the 15-time major champion used while helping a college golfer trying to hone a powerful fade. An “up shoot spin cut” is an undesirable shot where the ball launches high and spins excessively, creating a ballooning action where the ball sails high into the air and falls to the right without much power.
This is a popular training aid launched this year by Golf Digest Top 50 Teacher Sean Foley and Best in State David Woods that has become a frequent addition to PGA Tour driving ranges. Golfers wear the device on their trail wrist to place their wrist into a more desirable angle as they swing.
A comparatively more mainstream term that has made its way into the golf industry, the acronym stands for “No F—ks Given”, and it’s a moniker Max Homa wrote on his glove during his career-best T-10 major finish at the 2023 Open Championship.
7. Panic Practice
A term for an affliction that affects all levels of golfers, and especially pro golfers. Unlike a regular practice session, panic practice is termed so because players often approach it with no specific goal or reason for practicing, but rather as a kind of coping mechanism before the pressure of big tournaments or pivotal rounds.
This is the name of Odyssey's putter that, more than a decade after it was first released, became one of the hottest putters on tour in 2023. The putter was used by three golfers claiming four wins over the summer, including Wyndham Clark at the 2023 U.S. Open.
9. Controlling interest
Those of us who majored in the humanities in college only have a fleeting grasp of how corporations are structured, but this phrase has taken on new urgency as the PGA Tour and Saudi Arabia’s PIF struggle to arrive at an agreement. The amount of money invested by the Saudis and other parties tell us one thing. But really it’s about who will have “controlling interest” that matters when it comes to charting the new venture’s future.
In an earlier time, most of our “non-conforming” concerns would be around someone who wore cargo shorts at a private club. In a few years we’re told it will be how delineate between golf balls that go too far and ones within the new rules of the game.
11. Netflix Bump
Previously reserved for unhinged men who own live tigers (The Tiger King) and chess savants (The Queen’s Gambit), the phrase made its way to golf this year thanks to the streaming service’s golf series, "Full Swing." From improved TV ratings and web traffic to the inordinate prominence given to the world’s 166th-ranked golfer Joel Dahmen, the show gave golf a level of cool it hasn’t seen since a different sort of Tiger was at his peak.
12. CT Creep
This sounds like how you’d describe a middle-aged Connecticut golfer hitting on a cart girl, but it actually could be the focal point of the next equipment battle waged by the USGA and R&A. "CT Creep" is when older drivers add spring in their faces over time, making them non-conforming.
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