Birdies, dance floors and fried eggs. No, we’re not suggesting plans for Saturday night (and hangover breakfasts) – turns out, these are all golfing terms. As the Ryder Cup kicks off this weekend, we thought we’d help every Jane get up to speed on golf jargon. By Monday morning, you’ll be able to join in golf-related work chit-chat, seriously impressing those who golf at your workplace.

Girls' Guide to Golf: The Ryder Cup

The Ryder Cup 2016

Every two years, there is a showdown between the best male golfers in Europe and the best in the USA, alternating the venue on either side of the pond. This year it’s on American home turf in Minnesota. Two teams of twelve go head-to-head over a three-day competition, starting 30 September.

Davis Love III captains the American team, whilst Darren Clarke will be aiming to motivate the European team, who need to gain 14.5 points to win the Ryder Cup trophy outright. Each match is worth 1 point (a ½ point for a draw), with a total of 28 matches played over the three-day contest.


Golfing Terms: the Average Jane’s Guide

Here are some golfing terms explained, for all you need to know about the Ryder Cup 2016, which takes place this weekend.

Back nine

There are 18 holes on a golf course, so the back nine is the last nine holes. This usually means you are on your way back to the clubhouse, looking forward to that nice refreshing drink at the 19th hole (aka, the bar).


No, not the golfer’s wife or girlfriend. Each hole has a par (an expected score to achieve, usually 3, 4 or 5). If you score one below par (e.g. a 2 on a par 3 hole), that is a birdie. Professionals strive for birdies on every hole.

Ryder Cup golf tee


A not-so-good score on a hole. Where a birdie is one under par, a bogey is one over par (e.g. taking 6 shots on a par 5). “He has had a run of bogeys” does not mean he has had a cold, but simply scored badly on several consecutive holes.


Americans call it a ‘sand trap’; a gaping hole in the golf course full of sand. The amateur golfer finds it quite difficult to get the ball out, but the professionals make it look really easy.


Dance floor

“He’s on the dance floor”, means that the golfer’s ball is on the green. This is the much neater and tighter cut of grass on the golf course, where the flag is positioned. On the green is where you see golfers putt the ball into the hole (you may hear American commentators call the hole the ‘can’ or ‘cup’).

Double bogey

Where a bogey is a not-so-good score, a double-bogey is even worse. It is essentially two shots over par e.g. a score of 6 on a par 4 hole. Some golfers even get triple-bogeys and quadruple bogeys. These golfers are known as ‘hackers’.


Not the person who drives the golfer to the golf course, but the name given to the longest golf club in the golf bag. Americans sometimes refer to the driver as ‘the big dog’. It is the club that golfers usually use to ‘tee off’ – to hit the ball as far as they can down the ‘fairway’.


Duck hook

A soul-destroying shot that curves massively right-to-left (if you are right-handed) in the air. Usually results in the golf ball finishing out of bounds.

Duff shot

Where the golfer takes a massive chunk of grass and soil out of the ground when trying to hit the ball, resulting in the ball travelling a few yards at best. “He has only gone and duffed it”, is an acceptable phrase when a professional golfer does this.


The short cut of grass that leads to the green. The aim is to keep your golf ball on the fairway.

Flop shot

A risky, but beautiful shot if executed correctly. It involves the ball travelling very high, but only over a short distance. It is usually required when the ball travels over an obstacle e.g. bunker and needs to stop very quickly on the dance floor.


Fried egg

The appearance of a plugged ball, semi-submerged in a bunker, usually landed from a great height and when the sand is a little wet.

Fourball match

That’s right, 4 balls are played. Two American golfers and two European golfers, with the best score after each hole getting one point. If there is a tie, the hole is halved. In the morning of Friday and Saturday, 4 matches are played which are fourball formats.

Foursomes match

Foursomes is slightly different to the fourball format. Instead of playing a ball each, the two European golfers team up and play alternate shots with one ball. Their American opponents do the same and whichever pairing has the best score after playing the hole, gets one point. If they tie on a hole, they halve the hole. In the afternoon of Friday and Saturday, 4 matches are played which are of the foursome format.



Also known as a ‘tap-in’. When your golf ball is very close to the hole, your opponents can “give you” the shot, rather than having to execute the putt. How generous your opponents are, determines the length of putt they will ‘give you’.


A really bad golfer. Someone who makes their way around a golf course, usually destroying parts of the course along the way due to many duffed shots.

Singles match

1v1 match. In the Ryder Cup, an American plays against a European golfer on the final day (Sunday 2nd October). All 12 members of each team play on the Sunday of the Ryder Cup.

Ryder Cup golf

Watch it

Here at Average Janes, we shall be cheering the European team towards winning the Ryder Cup for a third consecutive time.

Catch the Cup on Sky Sports.

Who will you be supporting in this biennial golfing contest? Let us know – @tweetjanes.

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