The A to Z of Golf

Previously in South Wales Golfer

This article can save you s on lessons, books, equipment, and even green fees. Well, that's not really true, but now that I've got your attention you may as well waste some more time by reading it.

A: this what you say (whilst cupping a hand to your ear) to anyone who shouts at you from across the other side of the course, daring to suggest that some of your more inventive manoeuvres might not accord with the laws of golf. Advanced students can go on to follow this up with a delightful smile and nod, before turning the back. Hand gestures are not recommended, even for the most senior students.

B: is for Buggy. A motorised wheeled vehicle used to help golfers in their trek around the course. The best models run quietly and carry the golfer as well as his equipment, thus avoiding the charge sometimes made by the ignorant of ruining good walks (see M).

C: is for Caddie. An often inferior version of B above. They seldom run quietly and usually object, quite unreasonably you might think, to carrying the golfer as well as his equipment.

D: is for Driver. A big golf club. Also the one who moans most at the bar. See N.

E: is for TS Elliot. A not-very-good poet. His most famous lines are these from The Rock:
     'And the wind shall say: Here were
     decent godless people:
     Their only monument the asphalt
     And a thousand lost golf balls.'

F: is for Friends. People with a inferior golf handicap to yourself.

G: is of course for Golf. It also stands for many other things, like Glorious, Game, Gravity-defying and so on.

H: is for Hole-in-one. This is every golfer's dream except, according to the TV adverts, the ones who live in Japan. H is also for Handicap. Your handicap should be carefully maintained and worked at, and not vary as much as the FTSE.

I: I (or U, if you want to be pedantic). Always the most important person on the golf course. Never forget this, or allow others to forget it.

J: is for Jet-propelled golf balls. One of many examples of equipment that would be declared illegal under most versions of rules of the game.

K: is for Kill. You should rarely resort to this tactic (seen as unsporting by many) to win a game, even in the most important finals.

L: The Lowest golf course in the World was that of the Sodom and Gomorrah Golfing Society at Qulya, on the northern shores of the Dead Sea. It was 1250 feet below sea level, and is now defunct. No wonder, with a name like that.

M: is for Mark Twain. The American upstart who said 'Golf is a good walk spoiled'. What did he know? His average was probably a joke. Anyway, he was wrong: see B.

N: is for the Nineteenth Hole. This is the place to share anecdotes, explain to people how you very nearly broke the club record (and how you will break it the next time) and demonstrate the finer points of a golf swing (preferably when you don't have a club in your hand and before the liquid rounds get into double figures).

O: is for Origins. There are claims put forward by the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers (1744) and the Royal Burgess Golfing Society of Edinburgh (1735) to be the oldest club. But a law passed by the Scottish Parliament in 1457 said that 'goff be utterly cryit doune and not usit'. That means it was prohibited.

P: is for Playing Through. Superior golfers can 'overtake' slower ones by 'playing through', or taking their shots at a hole before those in front of them on the course. It's normally advisable to first get the approval of the other golfers to do this.

Q: is for Queue. At very busy holes a queue sometimes forms. These can be avoided by employing the convention shown under P above.

R: is for Ryder Cup. This is a kind of rehearsal for an Intercontinental Thermonuclear War without the missiles. So far without the missiles, anyway.

S: is for Swing. It's essential to get this right, especially if you're on the tee outside the clubhouse. There's nothing with greater aesthetic appeal than a graceful, well-executed swing. After you've perfected this one, try then to ensure that the golf ball goes more than three feet in front of (or worse, behind) you.

T: is for Trap. This is the American term for Bunker. Of course, they have the World's biggest one, called 'Hell's Half Acre' on the Pine Valley course, Clementon, New Jersey.

U: is for Useless. You can probably think of contenders for the title of 'World's Most Useless Golfer' yourself. But they'd have to be a bit special to beat a contender in the qualifying round of the 1912 Shawnee Invitational for Ladies in Pennsylvania, USA. She played 166 shots on the 16th hole. And no, she didn't qualify.

V: is for Victory. If you have a very good memory, you might even be able to remember what one of those is.

W: is for Woods as in Tiger. An advocate of integrity on the golf course, he once said 'I favour testing every [player's driver] every day'. Himself?

X: marks the imaginary spot that you aim for. It's usually best if this is somewhere in front of you.

Y: this is the question those of philosophical cast of mind must ask themselves when an obviously-inferior player has a better average; when a perfectly-weighted shot doesn't travel the distance it should; and when green fees go up.

Z: is for Zip-a-Dee-Dooh-Dah. This is what you say on those satisfying occasions when you hit a fine shot. You may not always wish to this when in Japan: see H.


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