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Golf Terms - Letter "S"

Updated: Apr 29, 2021

Golf Terminology - 'S'

sandbagger - a golfer who understates his/her handicap with the hope that this will give him/her an advantage when playing against other golfers in a handicapped event. Example: "Sean's such a sandbagger! I played against him last week and he said he was a 14 handicap and proceeded to shoot a 79 gross."

sand iron - (aka: "sandwedge", "sand wedge") one of the irons that is specifically designed to be used to extricate the ball from a sand trap. The flange is usually larger than other irons to ensure that the club does not dig too far into the sand. Can also be used on the fairway when attempting a flop shot. Example: "I like to use my sand wedge in deep rough right next to the green ."

golf terms you will use on the golf course

sand save - (aka: "sandy") holing out in two from the sand trap (i.e. one shot to get out of the trap the next shot is in the hole). Example: "I made the sand save for par on the third hole."

sand trap - (aka: "trap", "bunker", "sand bunker", "beach") a common term used to describe the and filled depressions on a golf course. Example: "The third green is well protected by three sand traps."

sand wedge - see "sand iron".

sandy - see "sand save"

sclaff - of scottish origination. To scrape or strike the ground with a golf club behind the ball before hitting it. Example: "He sclaffed the ground just enough to make perfect contact with the ball without taking a divot."

score - (aka: "shoot") the number of strokes a particular golfer required in order to complete a specific task. Example: "Hey Julie! What did you shoot ont he front nine?"

scorecard - (aka: "card") the paper or cardboard card used to keep the players score for each hole. Example: "We got to the second tee before we realized that nobody had brought a scorecard with them."

scoring - any markings on the face of a golfclub including those that are meant to be there (grooves, dimples, etc.) as well as those that are not (scratches, etc.).

scramble - a tournament format in which all players in a group (foursome or otherwise) hit a shot from the tee, then choose the best shot and each hit from that spot until the ball is holed. Example: "A scramble tournament is good for corporate events as it keeps the poor golfers moving and does not slow play down too much."

scramble - (aka: "recover") to be able to get out of trouble on the golf course with reasonable success. Example: "Tim was hardly on the fairway at all. He scrambled all the way to the green and then one putted for par."

scratch - a player with a 0 handicap. Example: "Joshua has been a scratch golfer since he was 18 years old."

semi-private course - a course that has members but is also open to public play. Example: "Many courses in the Toronto area are semi-private but almost always run through many tournaments."

set - when the wrists are cocked at the top of the backswing. "A good way to identify the wrist set at the top of the swing is to feel the club pull down on the left thumb (for right-handed players)."

set up - (aka: "setup", "address", "address position") the position and the routine that a player goes through when setting up to take a shot. Example: "To be a consistent golfer you need to set up consistently."

shaft - the long straight part of a golf club on which the grip is placed. At the opposite end the shaft is inserted into the clubhead. Example: "I saw a set of clubs the other day with bamboo shafts!"

shag bag - a container usually made of heavy fabric used to carry balls for practice. May also be constructed so as to assist with the picking up of practice balls after they have been hit. Example: "I brought a shag bag full of balls with me to the practice bunker."

shank - (aka: "lateral") to hit the ball laterally unintentionally. Usually the result of hitting the ball with the toe or heel of the club. Example: "I shanked my first three shots on Sunday!"

shoot - the act of playing a golf shot. Example: "Though the water loomed ominously, I decided to gamble and shoot right at the pin." also see "score".

short game - the part of the game of golf played near or on the green consisting of pitching, chipping, sand play, and putting. Example: "If you have a good short game you will score well at Royal Woodbine."

short iron - any of the irons (typically with shorter shafts) from 8 iron up to the shortest wedge. Example: "If you hit a good drive to the top of the hill it will roll down about 30 yards and you'll only have a short iron into the green."

shotgun - (aka: "shotgun start") a term used to describe a tournament or start of any game where everyone starts, on different holes, at the same time. Golfers travel in groups to different holes before the start of an event and then when a signal is given everyone starts play together. Often a shotgun is fired into the air as the signal to begin play. Hence the term. Example: "Q: What time is our tee off? A: The tournament is a 1:00 shotgun start."

side - ("back side", "front side", "front", "back") a term used to describe 9 holes of an 18 hole course. Example: "He was excited to play the back side after shooting 38 on the front."

sidehill lie - a term used to describe the position of the ball as it lies on the side of a hill causing the golfer's feet to be at a different height than the ball and generally harder to hit properly. Example: "My drive stayed in the fairway but I ended up with a sidehill lie and my feet were a good 8 inches below the ball."

sidesaddle - a particular stance when putting the ball where a golfers feet point at the hole instead of perpendicular to the target line as is traditional. The putter is then swung beside the body causing the ball to roll towards (and hopefully into) the hole.

skins - (aka: "skin game", "skins game") similar to match play. A type of golf game played where each hole represents one skin and in order to 'win' that skin a golfer needs to beat the other competitors outright on that hole. A skin that is not won outright is 'carried over' to the next hole. At the end of 18 holes the total number of strokes does not matter. the winner is determined by the player with the most skins. Each skin may be assigned a value (i.e. $5) should the players want to make a monetary wager on the round. Example: "We were tied after 13 holes and then the next three holes carried over so the 18th hole was worth 5 skins!"

skull - (aka: "blade", hit it thin", "belly", "scull") the action of hitting the ball with the leading edge of the flange of any iron. The result is that the ball flies with lower trajectory and longer than intended. Example: "My drive set me up directly in front of the green about 80 yards out but I lifted my head and skulled my SW into the sand trap on the far side of the green."

sky - (aka: "skyball", "pop up", "rainmaker") to hit a ball extremely high. Usually unintentionally and often on a drive when the ball was teed up too high so that the top of the clubhead makes contact with the ball causing it to travel almost straight up in the air and a much shorter distance than intended. Example: "All I had to do was par the 14th hole to win my match but I skyed my drive and let Mats back into the match."

slice - (aka: "banana ball") a shot that travels from left to right (for the right handed golfer) at a more dramatic pace than a fade. Usually unintentionally. Also a shot that curves to the right (for the right hander) uncontrollably. Example: "Most beginners struggle trying to get rid of their slice."

slope - (aka: "slope rating") trademark of the USGA, it is a number indicating the difficulty of a course for bogey golfers relative to the course rating. The minimum slope is 55 and the maximum is 155. A course of average difficulty is slope rated at 113. The most important role of slope is to level the playing field for players of different skill levels. Example: "A course with a slope rating of 145 is far more difficult than one with a slope of 112."

slow play - (aka: "undue delay") to play slower than the group in front of you. A commonly used term used by almost all golfers but also an official term in the USGA rules. Usually judged by the distance behind the group in front. Example: "The ranger accused us of slow play on the fifteenth hole but the group in front of us had just left the green, so I don;t really think that we were playing slow."

smother - (aka: "hood") to make the trajectory of a shot lower by closing the face of the club somewhat. sometimes unintentional but also used intentionally to to hit a ball under foliage that is between the golfer and the intended target. Example: "I my drive rolled behind a tree and I had to smother my 6 iron to get it under the leaves - but I came up short anyway."

snap hook - (aka: "duck hook", "snapper", "quacker") a shot that travels like a hook but more pronounced and quicker. A shot that curves uncontrollably to the left (for a right handed golfer) right off the face of the club. Example: "Patty snap hooked her drive into the lake 25 yards left of the tee box."

spike - (aka: "cleat") points extending from the sole of a golf shoe intended to prove additional traction when swinging a golf club. 'Soft Spikes' are made of plastic and leave less severe marks on the green. Most courses now require soft spikes and will not permit any other type. Example: "Greg's feet slipped as he swung because his spikes were all worn down."

spray - to hit the ball in any direction other than that intended. Example: "After getting off the tee very well during my last round - I sprayed the ball all over the place today."

square - to be exactly perpendicular or at right angle to (i.e. 90°). Example: "At the address position both the face of the club and the player him/herself should be square to the target."

Stableford - a scoring system where players earn points based on their score in relation to par (e.g., in The International tournament on the PGA Tour, par = 0 points, birdie = 2, eagle = 5, double eagle = 8, bogey = -1, double bogey or worse = -3). The winner is determined not by the lowest score but instead by the player with the highest number of points.

starter - (aka: "tee master", "master of the tee") an employee of the golf course whose responsibility it is to ensure that each foursome tees off the correct tee in the correct order at the correct time. Often this person is also responsible to ensure that the players all know the local rules and have paid to play their round. Example: "I had just started putting on the practice green when the starter said we were up next on the tee."

starting time - (aka: "tee time") the time at which a particular round is scheduled to start. A reservation to begin play at the golf course. Example: "We have a regular tee time at my local club for 8:15 Saturday mornings."

stick - 1. an alternative term (slang) for the flagstick 2. (aka: "stiff", "stoney") to put a shot close to the hole. 3. to hit an approach shot that lands and remains on the green. Example: 1. "I was thirty yards over the green but it was right at the stick!" 2. "From inside 80 yard Doug can stick it right next to the pin." 3. "The greens are really hard today so its really tough to stick your approach shots."

stiff - (aka: "stick it", "stoney") to hit a shot that finishes in the immediate vicinity of the hole/pin. Example: "Doug was thirty five yard out ont he 8th hole and hit it stiff/stoney to about a foot and a half!"

stoney - (aka: "stick it", "stiff") see "stiff".

straight-faced - a club with very little loft. Example: "I have really trouble hitting the straight-faced irons (1-4)""

stroke - 1. (aka: "shot") the unit of measure used in golf which counts one each time a club is swung with the intent of contacting the ball. 2. the qualitative aspect of the swing (most frequently associated with putting). Example: "After 5 strokes Mark wasn't even near the green yet." 2. "Vanessa has an extremely smooth putting stroke."

stroke play - (aka: "medal play") to play golf and score by counting the total number of strokes.

swale - any depression on the fairway or on the green of a golf course. Example: "I hit my drive 280 yards down the middle but when I set up for my second shot, I couldn't see the flag because the swale I was in was so deep."

sweet spot - (aka: "sweetspot", "screws", "nut") the center of the clubface. The spot on the club-face where the golfer intends to contact the golfball and off of which the ball is expected to fly truest. Example: "It sure felt good to be the first off the with about 20 colleagues watching and hit my drive right on the sweet spot/screws"

swing - to cause the golf club to be lifted and dropped with the intention of contacting the ball or in practicing to contact the ball. Example: "Julie has such a smooth swing. She hits the ball 180 with her driver and it looks effortless."

swing plane - (aka: "plane") most easily visualized as the plane that the shaft of the club or of the club-head's arc during the swing.

swing weight - the measurement of golf clubs balanced at the 14-inch fulcrum. An industry standard ranging from A-0 to G-2 with the average standard at about D-0. Example: "The swing weight of a club is different than its overall weight or dead weight."


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