Golf Definitions from the Legends of the Past

Dear Fellow Golf Enthusiast

Here are a list of past golf terms that you will find of interest and of course help you get the most out of these rare golf legend books.

Don’t let the antiquity of these golf terms deter you from the treasure of information you are about to embark on.

Good Reading and Good Golfing!!


The position a golfer takes as he or she stands over the ball, ready to hit – the stance is taken and the club is grounded. The club must have been grounded for a golfer to be considered at address (this distinction matters in many rules interpretations).

Another term for a double eagle, or 3-under par on any one hole. Albatross is used most commonly in the U.K.


A “bunker” is a hazard that is a hole or depression that has been filled in with sand. Bunkers vary greatly in size and shape and depth. They are most commonly found serving as greenside hazards, but also often show up in fairways and alongside fairways.

Also Known As: Trap, sand trap, sand bunker. The USGA prefers the term “bunker” in all uses.


The historical name for the club that was the closest equivalent to today’s 2-woods. A modern 2-wood is not a brassie club – the brassie was very different from a modern 2-wood. But in loft, appearance and use, the brassie is the antique club that is most related to a 2-wood. “Brassie” is most commonly applied to pre-20th Century times.


Among historical (wooden-shafted, pre-20th Century) golf clubs, the cleek was an iron with a very narrow face and little loft most commonly associated with today’s 1-irons. Cleeks came in variations, too. There was the “wooden cleek,” a club also of little loft but with a wooden head (historically equivalent to a 4-wood). There was the “putting cleek,” which, you guessed it, was used for putting.


A bad golfer. Duffer is a derogatory term applied to poor players in general. Somewhat synonymous with “hacker” in that they both apply to poor players. But “duffer” is sometimes used to denote weaker players in general, while “hacker” is often applied to a single golfer as an insult. Hacker is a little bit stronger than duffer, in other words.


The Rules of Golf makes reference to “honors” in determining order of play. But there are no penalties for playing out of order in stroke play (in match play, a golfer who goes out of order can be made to replay the shot without penalty), so “honors” is really just a matter of etiquette.

A player who has “honors” is the player who hits first from the tee box. On the first tee, honors can be determined randomly or by any means desired.

Thereafter, the player with the lowest score on the preceding hole gets honors on the next tee. For example, a player who made par goes before bogey, who goes before double-bogey and so on. In the case of ties, order of hitting from the previous tee carries over.


The “mashie” was the historical golf club (wooden-shafted, mostly pre-20th Century) that most closely resembled today’s 5-iron. A modern 5-iron and the mashie are very different clubs; it would be incorrect to call a modern 5-iron a mashie. But in loft and use, the mashie was most equivalent to a modern 5-iron

Mashie Niblick

The “mashie niblick” was the historical golf club, wooden-shafted and used primarily before the 20th Century, that would be most closely associated with today’s 7-irons.

Mashie Iron

The wooden-shafted, mostly pre-20th Century golf club that, among historical or antique golf clubs, is most equivalent to a modern 4-iron.


The “mid mashie” was the historical equivalent of today’s 3-irons. Today’s 3-irons are not accurately called mid mashies, however; a mid mashie and a 3-iron are very different clubs. For one thing, the mid mashie had a wooden shaft! But among the pre-20th Century golf clubs, the mid mashie is the club that in loft and use most resembles modern 3-irons.


Among the wooden-shafted historical golf clubs in use prior to the 20th Century, the “niblick,” in its use, was most equivalent to a modern 9-iron.

Pitching Niblick

The “pitching niblick” was the historical golf club (wooden-shafted, pre-20th Century) whose short shaft made it the club of choice for chipping and short approaches. In the way it was used, the pitching niblick was most equivalent to today’s wedges.

That doesn’t mean the pitching niblick was necessarily a high-lofted club, however. With antique golf clubs, loft could dramatically differ from set to set among the same clubs. That’s why you’ll sometimes see this club also compared to a 4-iron under its alias, the “jigger.”

Also Known As: Jigger, lofting iron


The areas outside of fairways that generally features higher, thicker grass or naturally growing (unkept and unmowed) vegetation. Rough is designed to be punitive to players who miss the fairways. It can vary in height and thickness depending on its location on the course, and often is found around bunkers and greens in addition to fairways. The “first cut of rough” is a term applied to rough just off the fairway that is higher than the fairway but lower than the “second cut of rough.” You guessed it – the “second cut of rough” is the really thick stuff. Most upscale courses use a “first cut” and “second cut;” many others simply have one variety of rough throughout the course.


The setting of the feet just prior to making a stroke. A stance is not the same as “being at address.” At address, a player has set his feet and grounded the club (unless in a hazard, where grounding is not permitted). Stance refers only to the setting of the feet preparatory to the stroke.

Vardon Grip

The grip (as in way of holding the club) that is most popular among professional golfers. Named after the great Harry Vardon, who popularized it. In the Vardon grip, place your little finger on the trailing hand (the one placed lower on the club – right hand for a right-handed player) and place it between the index and middle finger on the lead hand (the hand that is higher on the club). The lead-hand thumb should fit in the lifeline of the trailing hand.

  • Get Updates by Email

    Get the Mini-Course: "How to Improve your Putting" by Bobby Jones - Free when you join!

    We respect your email privacy

Browse by Topic