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Famous Golf Sayings

There are lots of things that we say to each other as golfers out on the course. If you aren’t a regular golfer, a lot of these might not mean too much to you.However, you might also be surprised to see that a few of these golf sayings have made their way into everyday speech. So here they are along with a brief explanation. How many do you know?

  1. Never up, never in
  2. Hit ’em straight
  3. Grip it and rip it!
  4. Fairways and greens
  5. Avoid the rough/Keep it out of the long grass
  6. Good roll
  7. Go low
  8. Beats working for a living
  9. There are no pictures on the scorecard
  10. Stay left/right, get up/down
  11. Play the course, not your opponent
  12. Play it as it lies

Never Up, Never in

This is the classic golfer’s comment when you hit a putt that falls short. Generally, you will hear it when your perfectly read putt that is heading for the cup just runs out of legs a few rolls before it would have dropped. When your playing partner says this with a self-satisfied smile, please avoid the temptation to turn around and break your putter over his head!

Hit ’em Straight

This is a common first tee shout along with ‘good game’ or ‘enjoy it out there’just before the first player tees off. It is self-explanatory, just the (usually forlorn) hope not to see too many balls curving horribly towards the out-of-bounds fence. We can always hope I suppose!

Grip it and Rip it!

This one has made it’s way into everyday language and is something most of us would have heard in one context or another. In golf terms, it is an encouragement to simply take hold of the club and just try to hit the ball hard rather than worrying about the million and one swing thoughts that usually go through our minds. Off course, it is pretty much the same. A sort of “just go for it”, whatever the situation.

Fairways and Greens

This is sometimes a first tee ‘best of luck’ type comment or it can also be used as a sort of mantra about what good golf really is. Obviously, someone hitting their ball into the fairway every time and then following that up by hitting their approach shot into the green is probably going to be having a good day in terms of score (unless of course they putt like me!)

Avoid the Rough

This is basically the opposite of the previous one. If you are hitting it into the thick grass (the rough) too often, the game of golf does get significantly harder. We also hear this one now and again off course. It is a reminder to stay out of trouble.

Good Roll

This is another putting-related saying. It can be after a putt that is successful or actually one that isn’t but often isn’t far away. It means that, regardless of outcome, the putt was well-struck. This is actually one that does’t really make a lot of sense when you think about it. I have heard it said, without irony, to someone who has just rolled his putt ten feet past the hole. OK, he did manage to follow ‘never up, never in’ but if you are going to miss, you might as well leave it as close as possible and two feet short is always better than ten feet past in my book.

Go Low

This might be top of the list of first tee platitudes! wishing good luck to everyone in the group with ‘go low’ always seems like the most useless piece of advice. I have never met a golfer who wants to do anything but go low (or score as low as possible). I suppose it is just built in to us golfers to say this sort of stuff before a round. In fact, it is almost as automatic as saying ‘one’ when someone’s ball topples forward off the tee as he or she stands at address!

Beats Working for a Living

Beats working for a living or its close cousin “better than being at the office” are fairly common both on-course and off. Although they are quite banal, I actually enjoy hearing these two. Generally, someone will say one or the other when you are having a particularly bad day on the course. It is sometimes important to remember that a bad day on the course (or doing any other leisure activity) is generally far more pleasurable for most of us than putting on a suit and tie or whatever and heading out to get the Johnson account or sell some weebles.

There are No Pictures on the Scorecard

This is one that might not mean too much to a non-golfer. Essentially, golf does involve a fair degree of luck, both good and bad. Sometimes, you stripe one right down the middle of the fairway and find it sitting in a divot. On the next hole, you might hook one horribly and watch as it bounces off a tree branch into the centre of the fairway. That’s golf. At the end of the hole, you right your score on the card.

A par four might be a nice drive down the middle, a lovely iron to the middle of the green, a solid putt to gimme distance and a tap in. It might also be a slice into the trees, a hack out into a bunker, a thinned escape over the back of the green and chip that was hit far too hard but hits the flag and drops. The scorecard doesn’t know.

I am a bit wary of this one though. I have certainly played both far better and far worse than my scorecard might indicate and it is worthwhile remembering how good or bad the round actually was.

Stay Left/right, Get Up/down

This isn’t so much a saying as something that golfers do that might appear crazy to the rest of the world. Yes, I do know that many people think we are a little bit strange with good reason as Churchill pointed out:

Golf is a game whose aim is to hit a very small ball into an even smaller hole, with weapons singularly ill-designed for the purpose.”

However, if the ‘sane’ part of the world could hear us talking to the ball, they would really start to worry. Encouraging our mishit drive to ‘stay left’ or that thinned chip to ‘get down’ is common on the course. In fact, it is true at all levels of the game and I enjoy, for example, heating Jordan Spieth giving his ball in-flight instruction after he has hit the shot.

Play the Course, Not Your Opponent

This common phrase is actually not as true as you would think. Depending on the format, it could actually be the complete opposite of what you should be doing. The idea is simple enough. It doesn’t matter what the other golfers are doing, you should be thinking about the course. You can be shorter off the tee and still score well. Your fellow golfers might be making everything on the grees, that doesn’t affect your score. 

All this is fine, but let’s not forget that most underrated format, matchplay. One of the joys of matchplay is that is doesn’t matter what the course is like, you only need to beat the opponent, so the complete opposite of this. 

Play it as it Lies

This is a great one to finish because it is both the essence of golf and a great approach to life in general. As mentioned earlier, luck has a huge part to play in the great game. Sometimes your terrible shot will get a reward it didn’t deserve and sometimes that perfect strike will bounce out of bounds off the drain cover. Part of golf is dealing with this. I like the idea that there are many things, both on the course and in life in general, that are outside of our control. Sometimes, all we can do is hit the ball the best we can, see what happens and deal with it when when get there. 

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