Golfing glossary: A beginners guide to golf shots

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LG's Harriet tries to get to grips with the basic shots that are used in a game of golf

If the thought of trying to hold a golf conversation with a proper golfer has you waking up at night in a cold sweat, then this glossary is just the thing to help you out.

Here we focus on the important notion that whacking the ball in golf can never be described as doing just that. There’s always a proper term for how you are hitting the ball and a correct stick for hitting it with.

Here’s a quick run-down of just some of the different types of golf shots…

WOBURN, ENGLAND - JULY 29: Mel Reid of England hits her second shot on the 3rd hole during the second round of the Ricoh Women's British Open at Woburn Golf Club on July 29, 2016 in Woburn, England. (Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)

Tee shot

When someone talks about a ‘drive’ or a ‘tee shot’ they are actually the same thing. Both are when someone hits the ball a long way, aiming to keep it on the fairway. This is normally done from the tee box, or the place where you start playing a hole.

Usually a tee shot is done with a driver, also called a 1-wood, but on shorter holes you can also choose to use an iron. If you manage to hit it really hard and really far then you have successfully ‘bombed it‘, in which case you should feel very pleased with yourself.

So if someone asks you to pass them their driver or 1-wood, look for the longest club with the biggest head. Which despite looking like it really means business also feels weirdly light.

Pitch

A pitch shot should go high in the air but only travel a short distance.

You might use this if you are relatively close to the green, stuck in some rough, trying to get your ball to go up hill, or generally wailing with despair that you are stuck behind an awkwardly placed shrub/tree.

You pitch using a wedge, of which there are many confusing varieties.

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Chip

Unfortunately this isn’t anything to do with delicious fried potatoes.

This is a shot that should be played when you’re a few yards from the green. It should ideally involve a gentle pop up in the air and a steady roll towards the hole. Chipping also requires a wedge, but it shouldn’t go as high in the air as a pitch does.

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Bunker shot

Once you’ve started golfing, you’ll find your nightmares suddenly become full of sandpits.

To get out of these dreaded bunkers you’ll need a sand wedge and to attempt a bunker shot, which is kind of similar to a pitch. In theory this will have your ball sailing smoothly out of the bunker on first try, accompanied by a dramatic splash of sand.

But of course this never happens, and in my experience it should take at least five very unglamorous attempts and lots of cursing before you manage to get it out.

Bunkers are made extra fun by the crazy rule that you can’t ground your club, or let the club touch the ground, before you attempt to hit the ball. I won’t even attempt to describe how this works right now

SAN MARTIN, CA - JULY 08: Lydia Ko of New Zealand hits out of a bunker on the 7th hole during the second round of the U.S. Women's Open at CordeValle Golf Club on July 8, 2016 in San Martin, California. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

Putt

When you’ve managed to get on the green it’s tempting to breathe a sign of relief, start to relax a bit, and if deserved, quietly congratulate yourself for not being such a colossal embarrassment.

But the fun isn’t over yet.

Putting is helpfully done with a club called a putter. Although the movement is just a small tap, it’s not at all guaranteed to be easy.

Putting requires a different grip to the other types of stroke, and good putting involves things like ‘reading the greens’ and ‘lining-up’ your putt. So even if you have no idea what any of that means or what you’re meant to be looking at, crouching down behind your ball and looking very seriously at the hole is a good way of pretending you have a plan. Then you can act totally surprised when you miss the hole completely, and everyone will hopefully put your error down to just bad luck. Easy!

Disappointed Golfer on Putting Green

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