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Golf Terms You Should Know: What Is a Bogey (And More)?

Published on 10/02/2023 · 7 min readBogey, ace, scramble – sometimes golf can feel like a foreign language to those starting out in the game! Here are the answers to common golf term Q&As.
Eric Hall, Golf Expert
By Golf Expert Eric Hall

Photo by Jacob Lund

To ease you into the lingo in time for the next tournament, I’ve run through some common questions I’ve fielded as an expert here on Curated around key terms in golf.

What is a bogey in golf?

Photo by Worakit Sirijinda

A bogey is simply when a golfer completes a hole-in-one stroke in more than the par listed for the hole. For example, on a par three, a golfer would score a bogey if they complete the hole in four strokes, thus giving them a score of 1-over par. This is indicated with an unfilled box on the scorecard. A bogey golfer is someone who averages one over per hole throughout their round, ending either 9 over par on nine holes or 18 over par on a full 18 hole round.

If a golfer goes more than one stroke over par, they score a double bogey (2-over par), triple bogey, or quadruple bogey, quintuple bogey, and higher.

What is an ace in golf?

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An ace is one of the most coveted achievements in golf. Also known as a "hole-in-one", it is when a golfer completes a hole-in-one shot. This happens mostly on par threes, including numerous famous aces at Augusta National both during the Masters Tournament and during the Par Three Contest. However, Andrew Magee famously has the only recorded ace on the PGA Tour on a par 4.

Here's an ace from Jordan Spieth at this year's Arnold Palmer Invitational:

What does par mean in golf?

Photo by Patryk Kosmider

A par is when a golfer completes a hole in the listed number of strokes on the scorecard. These scores are determined as a suggestion for what the number of shots should be to get through the hole. When Tiger was growing up, his dad would modify the par for the holes they played so that he could compete against his dad.

What is match play in golf?

Matchplay is a format in golf where instead of counting strokes, golfers face off and whoever completes the hole in fewer strokes in regulation is the winner throughout an 18-hole course. Match play scoring goes like this: if I were playing another golfer and I score a birdie and he pars, I go 1-up in the match. The best score is always the fewest shots it takes to complete the hole. When a match reaches a point where a golfer is farther up than the number of holes left, the match is conceded. For example, if I end up going 4-up with 3 holes to play, I win the match 4&3.

The Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup use this tournament format to determine the winner of each match. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday all consist of different formats within 18 holes, but they all result in match play competitions. Team events are more common for match play tournaments compared to stroke play.

What is a scramble in golf?

A scramble golf format is a modified format of playing golf with others in your group in which the group takes a team score each hole. Golf scramble rules are easy to follow. Each player's tee shot is accounted for at every hole. The option of having a two-person scramble, 4-person scramble, or 4-person teams makes the format exciting. This format fits well for golfers of all skill levels, recreational golfers, or beginners.

  • All members of the group play a shot from a location.
  • Then, the group chooses the best shot and the better ball out of everyone’s and plays from that spot for the next shot.
  • This process continues until the hole is completed by the group.

Typically, this style of golf results in faster rounds with better scores than if everyone were to play their own ball.

What is 4 ball in golf?

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Four-ball is a format in golf where teams of two play against each other. This is also known as a "Partner's Best Ball" format.

  • Both Player A and Player B on the same team play their own ball from the tee to the putting green.
  • Each player completes the hole with their own golf ball, but the team only takes whichever score is lower.

In the Ryder and Presidents Cups, this format is utilized, along with Alternate Shot (competition format involving playing only one golf ball), during the first rounds of play before moving on to singles match play on Sundays.

What is a mulligan in golf?

A mulligan is when a golfer’s group grants them permission to play a second shot from the same spot, thus wiping the record clean of the first shot’s existence. Regardless of where the first ball went, if a player requests a mulligan and uses one, they must play that ball for the remainder of the hole.

What is a fade in golf?

A fade, also known as a cut, is when a golfer uses an outside to inside swing path to move the ball from being close in line with their body to away from their body as it moves down the hole. For example, a fade for a right-hander would start left of the target (the side they address the ball on) to the right, hopefully landing where they desired it to land. This ball flight tends to land softer due to the backspin imparted from the slice.

What is a draw in golf?

A draw is when a golfer moves the ball from a starting position away from their body to ending more in line with their body at the end of the shot. For a right-hander, this means the ball starts out to the right and moves left to finish at the target line. This is caused by an inside to outside swing and a full release of the clubhead throughout the swing.

What is MDF in golf?

MDF stands for “made cut, did not finish” and is a relatively new concept in golf, first introduced in 2008. Tournaments that had not planned on a larger number of players making the cut will lower the cut score by one. They give out a portion of the tournament purse to those that "made it" but were asked not to continue playing. This then ensures that the rest of the players who made the cut can finish their rounds in daylight.

What does T stand for in golf?

A “T” in golf stands for tied. So, on the leaderboard, any golfers that have the same score related to par will be labeled as “T” followed by their place on the leaderboard. So if a player is one behind the leader, but tied with four other golfers, all of those golfers would be labeled as T2.

Links golf is traditionally associated with the golf courses in the United Kingdom. It is defined by numerous waste bunkers and pot bunkers, as well as no trees and high fescue (a type of grass). The courses usually have slower greens and firmer fairways due to the amount of wind that rips through. The difficulty of golf courses is also rated as slope ratings for determining the complexity of each links course.

What is a golf pro?

Being taught to play golf by a Pro on a practice driving range! Photo by RT Images

A golf pro is someone who professionally makes money off the sport of golf, either in a teaching capacity at a local golf course or store, or by playing on one of the professional tours throughout the globe. If you need help with your swing or anything related to your game, search for a golf pro near you and they will be happy to help you out for a small fee. A good golfer is typically referred to as a scratch golfer. This means that their handicap in the USGA handicap system is a 0 and they typically score a par on each individual golf hole depending on the overall difficulty of the golf course. Some pro golfer names that are easily recognized are Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Scottie Scheffler, and Cameron Smith.

Do you have any other questions about golf or how to improve your game with the right gear? Chat with me or one of my fellow Golf experts here on Curated anytime for free advice and recommendations.

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Eric Hall, Golf Expert
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