Terminology

If your golf instructor ever gives you advice that you don’t understand (for example, “close your clubface” or “strengthen your grip”), don’t be embarrassed to ask for an explanation. After all, you’re taking lessons to learn these things.

A glossary of golf can be found on Wikipedia (web page).  Here are a few terms often heard during lessons:

  • Open clubface / closed clubface – Usually, the face of the club is “looking” in the direction you want to hit the ball.  Opening the clubface means angling the face away from your body, with the toe of the clubface a little behind the heel.  Closing the clubface means angling the face toward your body, with the toe of the clubface a little ahead of the heel.
  • Strong grip / weak grip – With a strong grip – which provides more power – the thumb of the left hand is positioned toward the back side of the club.  With a weak grip, the thumb is more on top of the club.  See the illustration here.  Strong and weak grips are also described by how many knuckles you can see as you look down on your left hand.  (If you are left-handed, we are referring to your right hand.)
  • Slice / hook – A slice is a shot in which the path of the ball curves to the right.  A hook is a shot where it curves to the left.  (If you are left-handed, these terms are reversed.)
  • Pitch shot / chip shot – Pitch and chip shots are both short shots, near the green.  In a chip shot, the ball may be from the apron of the green to a few yards back.  In a pitch shot, the ball is farther – up to 30-40 yards – from the green.
  • Long iron / short iron – Your long irons are the lower numbered ones (3 and 4), while your short irons are higher numbered (8, 9, and wedges).  It is easy to remember:  your short irons have shorter shafts and are used most often in your short game for making short shots.