33 Golf Idioms in English With Meanings and Examples

Golf is a sport that has been played for centuries and has a rich history. Over the years, golfers have developed a unique language that is full of idioms and phrases that are used both on and off the course. These golf idioms are a way for players to communicate with each other and express their thoughts and feelings about the game.

Golf idioms are not only used by professional golfers but also by amateurs and fans of the game. They add color and character to the sport and make it more enjoyable for everyone involved. Whether you are a seasoned golfer or a beginner, understanding these idioms can help you communicate better with other players and appreciate the game even more.

What Are Golf Idioms?

Golf idioms are phrases that are commonly used in everyday language, but have their origins in the sport of golf. These idioms are often used metaphorically to describe situations or actions that are not related to golf.

33 Golf Idioms in English With Meanings and Examples Pin

Some common golf idioms include “tee off,” “in the rough,” and “putting on the green.” These phrases are used to describe starting a task, facing difficulty, and achieving success, respectively.

Other golf idioms include “hit the links,” “fairway to heaven,” and “mulligan.” These phrases refer to playing golf, experiencing a perfect shot, and taking a second chance, respectively.

Golf idioms are a fun and unique way to express oneself in everyday language. They add color and depth to conversations, and can even help non-golfers understand the sport better.

List of Golf Idioms

Idioms Meaning and Example Sentences
Par for the course Something that is expected or typical.

Example: The heavy traffic on my commute is par for the course.

Hole in one A highly successful and rare achievement.

Example: Landing that multi-million dollar deal was like getting a hole in one in sales.

Out of bounds Beyond acceptable limits or outside of the rules.

Example: Discussing personal matters at work is considered out of bounds.

In the rough In a difficult or challenging position.

Example: Ever since the merger, our team has been in the rough with all the new procedures.

On the green In a good position or close to a goal.

Example: After years of hard work, she’s finally on the green with her PhD research.

Mulligan A second chance to perform an action.

Example: I wish I could take a mulligan on that job interview.

Up to par Meeting the expected standard.

Example: Your last report wasn’t up to par; I know you can do better.

Tee off To start or begin something.

Example: We’re going to tee off the meeting with a quick review of last quarter’s sales.

Bunker To be in a difficult situation.

Example: We’re really in a bunker now with the server crash during our busiest season.

Driving range A place or situation for practicing skills.

Example: This new project is a great driving range for honing our programming abilities.

Play through To continue or proceed, especially without interruption.

Example: Despite the setbacks, we need to play through and get the project finished on time.

Chip shot An easily accomplished task.

Example: Compared to last year’s budget, this year’s should be a chipshot.

Sand trap An unexpected problem or tricky situation.

Example: The new regulations have put our project in a sand trap.

Stroke of luck An unexpected fortunate occurrence.

Example: Finding that rare part of the car was a real stroke of luck.

Below par Below the expected or usual standard.

Example: His performance this semester has been below par due to personal issues.

To get a read on To understand a situation or person’s behavior.

Example: It’s hard to get a read on the new manager’s expectations.

The back nine Referring to the second and more challenging half of an endeavor.

Example: We’re on the back nine of this project and can’t afford any mistakes now.

The 19th hole An informal term for a bar or restaurant at a golf course, often used to refer to a social gathering after an event.

Example: Let’s discuss this at the 19th hole after work.

To be above par To be better than average or expected.

Example: Her dedication to volunteering is certainly above par.

To lay up To take a conservative approach to avoid a greater hazard.

Example: We should lay up and not invest too much in this uncertain market.

Fairway A smooth path ahead; is a situation that is clear or without obstacles.

Example: With the patent approved, it’s a fairway for the product launch.

To address the ball To prepare or get ready to take action.

Example: Before we launch the campaign, we need to address the ball and ensure all teams are aligned.

To hook or slice To go off course; used when something doesn’t go as planned.

Example: The software update really sliced, causing more issues than fixes.

To make the cut To be selected or deemed adequate for a certain group or level.

Example: Only a few employees will make the cut for the advanced training program.

To sink a putt To complete a task successfully.

Example: After months of hard work, we finally sank the putt on the project and got client approval.

To read the green To analyze and understand a situation carefully.

Example: Before making our next move, we need to read the green and consider all possible outcomes.

To play the backfoot To take a defensive or cautious approach to a situation.

Example: In negotiations, it’s sometimes better to play the back foot until you know more.

To shank To make a mistake or misfire.

Example: He really shanked his presentation – it didn’t go well at all.

To hit out of turn To act out of proper sequence or prematurely.

Example: He was reprimanded for hitting out of turn by releasing the information before the official announcement.

To carry the water hazard To overcome a significant challenge or obstacle.

Example: The team really carried the water hazard when they finished the project under such tight constraints.

To have the honors To earn the privilege of going first due to good performance.

Example: After closing the biggest deal this quarter, Jenna definitely has the honors at the next meeting.

To be in the clubhouse To have completed one’s part in an activity, often before others.

Example: With my part of the project done, I’m in the clubhouse waiting for the rest of the team.

To give the green light To approve or permit to proceed.

Example: Management finally gave the green light for the new marketing strategy.

To take a drop Accept a penalty or setback in order to move forward.

Example: Sometimes you have to take a drop in business to avoid bigger losses down the line.

Golf Idioms in Different Contexts

Hold in One

The idiom “hole in one” originates from the game of golf, where it describes the rare and impressive feat of hitting the golf ball directly from the tee into the hole with a single stroke. Metaphorically, it’s used to describe an extraordinary success or a perfect outcome achieved on the first attempt.

Professional Achievement:

  • Usage: Achieving a “hole in one” in a professional context means accomplishing a significant task or goal in one attempt, especially when it’s difficult and success is not expected.
  • Example: “She proposed her innovative idea directly to the CEO and got immediate approval. It was a hole in one for her career.”

Personal Life:

  • Usage: In personal life, a “hole in one” refers to an instance where someone achieves an exceptional outcome on their first try, such as picking up a new hobby and immediately excelling at it.
  • Example: “I tried baking for the first time and my soufflé came out perfectly—it was a real hole in one.”

Social Interaction:

  • Usage: When someone makes the perfect comment or joke in a social setting that is very well received by everyone, it can be described as a “hole in one.”
  • Example: “At the dinner party, his toast was so touching and funny—it was a hole in one and had all the guests laughing and toasting along.”

Chip Shot

The idiom “chip shot” comes from the game of golf, where it refers to a short, controlled shot intended to place the ball on the green with a gentle, lofted stroke. It is generally considered an easier shot due to its short distance to the hole. In a metaphorical sense, the term is used to describe a task or action that is expected to be easy to accomplish.

Work Task:

  • Usage: In a work environment, a “chip shot” refers to a task that is considered easy to accomplish or complete, especially when compared to more complex projects.
  • Example: “After organizing the international conference last month, planning this local workshop is a chip shot.”

Academic Test:

  • Usage: In academics, a “chip shot” might be used to describe a test or exam question that a student finds very easy to answer, perhaps because they studied well or are familiar with the topic.
  • Example: “I’ve been studying all week for the chemistry exam, so when I saw the question on molecular bonds, it was a chip shot.”

Personal Goals:

  • Usage: When someone sets a personal goal that is relatively easy to achieve due to their skills or circumstances, it can be seen as a “chip shot.”
  • Example: “I’ve run half-marathons before, so training for a 5K race next month should be a chip shot for me.”

Below Par

The idiom “below par” originates from the sport of golf, where “par” is the expected number of strokes that a skilled golfer should take to complete a hole. Scoring “below par” in golf is actually a good thing, as it means the player took fewer strokes than expected. However, in common usage, the idiom “below par” has come to mean less than average or not meeting the usual standard. 

Employee Performance:

  • Usage: In a professional setting, describing someone’s work as “below par” means that their performance is not meeting the expected standards or requirements.
  • Example: “Lately, Mike’s work has been below par; he’s missed several deadlines and needs to improve his time management.”

Health and Well-being:

  • Usage: When referring to someone’s physical or mental health, “below par” indicates that they are not feeling as well as usual or are in a state of reduced health.
  • Example: “I won’t be coming to the gym today; I’m feeling a bit below par after that cold I caught last week.”

Quality of Products or Services:

  • Usage: In the context of products or services, “below par” suggests that the quality or value is not as high as expected or does not meet the usual standards.
  • Example: “The food at that new restaurant was below par; it definitely didn’t live up to the hype.”

To Read The Green

The idiom “to read the green” comes directly from the game of golf, where it refers to the act of examining the contours, texture, and grain of the green to predict how a putt will travel towards the hole. Metaphorically, it can be used in various contexts to describe the process of analyzing a situation or environment to make a well-informed decision or prediction.

Business Decision-Making:

  • Usage: In business, “to read the green” means to analyze the market or situation carefully before making a decision, much like a golfer studies the green before a putt.
  • Example: “Before we launch the new product line, we need to read the green to understand consumer behavior and market trends.”

Social Situations:

  • Usage: When interacting with others, “to read the green” can refer to observing social cues and dynamics to determine the best course of action or response.
  • Example: “At the networking event, he took a moment to read the green before approaching the group of investors with his pitch.”

Personal Relationships:

  • Usage: In personal relationships, “to read the green” might be used to describe the act of gauging someone’s feelings or the state of the relationship before taking the next step.
  • Example: “She wasn’t sure if he was ready to talk about their issues, so she decided to read the green first by bringing up lighter topics.”

To Hit Out of Turn

The idiom “to hit out of turn” is derived from various turn-based games, including golf, where players are supposed to take turns in a specific order. Hitting out of turn would mean taking a shot when it’s not your turn, which is generally against the rules or etiquette of the game. Metaphorically, this phrase can be used to describe acting prematurely or taking action when it’s not appropriate or it’s someone else’s responsibility. 

Workplace Collaboration:

  • Usage: In a collaborative work setting, “to hit out of turn” refers to taking action or making a decision without waiting for the appropriate time or without consulting others who should be involved.
  • Example: “During the team meeting, John hit out of turn by unilaterally announcing the project deadline without discussing it with the rest of us first.”

Legal or Formal Proceedings:

  • Usage: In legal or formal contexts, “to hit out of turn” can mean speaking or acting before it is one’s rightful turn, often violating protocol or rules of order.
  • Example: “The witness hit out of turn by answering questions before the attorney had finished speaking, which annoyed the judge.”

Social Etiquette:

  • Usage: When it comes to social etiquette, “to hit out of turn” might be used to describe someone who speaks or acts in a social setting without observing the proper turn-taking, potentially causing embarrassment or offense.
  • Example: “At the dinner party, he hit out of turn by interrupting the host’s story, which was seen as quite rude by the other guests.”

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Last Updated on December 5, 2023

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