Activities Sports & Athletics Explaining the Putting Green Terms 'Break' and 'Borrow' Share PINTEREST Email Print This golfer aimed out to the left of the hole on this putt to account for the putt's 'borrow'. Sam Edwards/OJO Images/Getty Images Sports & Athletics Golf Basics History Gear Golf Courses Famous Golfers Golf Tournaments Baseball Basketball Bicycling Billiards Bodybuilding Bowling Boxing Car Racing Cheerleading Cricket Extreme Sports Football Gymnastics Ice Hockey Martial Arts Professional Wrestling Skateboarding Skating Paintball Soccer Swimming & Diving Table Tennis Tennis Track & Field Volleyball Other Activities Learn More By Brent Kelley Brent Kelley is an award-winning sports journalist and golf expert with over 30 years in print and online journalism. our editorial process Brent Kelley Updated March 17, 2017 "Break" can refer to the amount the path of the putted ball curves in response to the contours of a putting green, or to the amount the green itself curves or slopes. "Borrow" refers to the distance right or left of a straight line to the hole that the golfer must start his putted ball to account for the slope of the green. Hey, 'Borrow' and Break' Sound a Lot Alike! You might have noticed that "borrow" sounds a lot like "break." And you're right! They are essentially the same. Golf isn't complicated enough, we had to invent multiple words for the same thing. But there's a reason, in this case: "Borrow" is the traditional term in British golf; "break" is the traditional term in American golf. In the modern golf world, with tournaments on many continents broadcast around the world, both terms are used more interchangeably by all golfers. A Difference in Usage Between Borrow and Break One difference in usage between the terms: "Break" is more likely to be used as a verb than is "borrow." For example, you might say: This putt is going to break two feet. But if using borrow, that statement is more likely to be rendered thusly: This putt requires two feet of borrow. Sometimes, both terms might be used in the same sentence: He needs to play two feet of borrow to account for the break. Which is kind of redundant, but you hear it. That's because "break" has a second meaning in which it is applied to the putting green rather than to the putted ball. Saying "there's a lot of break in this green" means that the golfer will have to play a lot of borrow (starting the ball above or below the straight line to the cup) to account for the slope of the green. So again: "borrow" is the deviation from a straight line to the cup that a golfer putts his ball in order to account for the slope of a green, and can be used interchangeably with that same meaning of "break."