Golf Club Terms and Definitions

Glossary of golf equipment terminology

Bag full of golf clubs silhouetted against the setting sun
Ben Radford/Corbis via Getty Images

Do you need to know the definition of a term related to golf equipment? Our Golf Club Terms glossary begins with a list of words and phrases for which we have in-depth definitions. Click on a term to read the explanation.

And below that, you'll find more terms defined - more than 70 words in all relating to golf clubs and equipment.

In-Depth Definitions of Golf Club Terms

Approach wedge
Belly Putter
Broomstick Putter
Cast Irons
Cavity Back
Center of Gravity
Center shafted
Characteristic Time
Coefficient of Restitution (COR)
Compression Crown
Demo Day
Face Angle
Face-Balanced Putter
Forged Irons
Frequency Matching
Gap wedge
Gear Effect
Launch Angle
Lie Angle Loft
Long Putter
Maltby Playability Factor
Moment of Inertia (MOI)
Putting Cleek
Range Ball
Smash Factor
Toe-Balanced Putter
Toe Hang

... and More Definitions of Golf Club Terms

Attack Wedge: Another name for gap wedge (also called A-wedge and approach wedge). Fits between the pitching wedge and sand wedge is a golfer's set of clubs.

Backspin: The backward rotation of the golf ball in flight along its horizontal axis (the top of the ball is rotating back towards the player), or the measured rate of that rotation. All golf clubs create backspin, but the higher the loft, the greater the rate of backspin. Backspin is what causes some wedge shots to "bite" and "back up" on the green. Aerodynamically, backspin produces lift which creates greater carry.

Backweight: Any weight added to the back of a clubhead for the purpose of changing the overall weight of the club, the club's swingweight, or other technical properties (such as center of gravity or MOI) of the clubhead.

Bore-Through: See Hosel.

Bulge: The heel-to-toe (or side-to-side) curvature across the face of a wood, especially the driver. Often used in tandem with "roll," bulge and roll are important for gear effect.

cc: Abbreviation of "cubic centimeters," used for clubhead volume. Driver clubheads are limited to 460cc in size, for example.

Clubhead Speed (or Swing Speed): A measure, in miles per hour, of how fast the clubhead of a golf club is traveling at the point it impacts the golf ball. Clubhead speed can be recorded by a launch monitor or other radar-employing device. On the PGA Tour, a typical driver clubhead speed is 110-115 mph. On the LPGA Tour, 90-100 mph. A typical recreational male is probably swinging his driver somewhere in the neighborhood of 85 mph, while a typical amateur female golfer is probably around 60 mph.

Dimples and Dimple Pattern: Dimples are the indentations that cover a golf ball (or, to use other terms we've seen, the depressions, the craters, the pock marks, the "scoops" in the ball's cover). Dimples are aerodynamic devices and changing the shape and depth of individual dimples has an effect on the flight of the ball. The dimple pattern is the specific way the dimples are arranged on the ball's surface, and changing the dimple pattern also affects ball flight. For more, see How Many Dimples are on a Golf Ball?

Driving Iron: A driving iron is a purpose-built, iron-like golf club designed to be used in place of a driver. The traditional driving iron has a larger head with more bulk and more heft compared to a standard iron, and has a lower loft than standard irons. Its clubhead might be a hollow construction. Driving irons typically have shorter shafts than drivers, making them easier to control in the swing. They are not common in golf, having mostly been replaced by hybrids. (Also note that some golfers called the 1-iron a driving iron.)

Flange: A term most closely associated with putters, because putters are the clubs by far most likely to include a flange. A flange is a part of a clubhead that juts out from the rear, sitting along the groundline. A backward protuberance at ground-level. Flanges help move weight away from the clubface, increasing the perimeter weighting.

Head cover: A pull-over cover that protects the driver and other woods. Sometimes also used for the putter, and some golfers even put versions of them on irons. Sometimes spelled as one word, "headcover." One of the easiest things you can do to take care of your clubs.

Heel: The end of the clubhead closest to the shaft. Opposite of "toe."

Leading Edge: The edge on the front of a golf club's face where the bottom of the clubface meets the sole. Literally, the edge of the club that leads in the swing.

Mallet (or mallet putter): A type of putter clubhead (or the category of putters that have such clubheads) that is much larger than traditional blades or heel-toe putters, with heads extending back from the putter face to much greater depths. Mallets are sometimes called "potato mashers" because of their size. And they can come in some odd and even funny shapes. The purpose of the big heads is to pull weight away from the face, creating much higher MOIs.

Maraging Steel: An alloy that is harder than normal steel. Used in golf clubs beginning in the early 2000s and still used as a less-expensive alternative to titanium. Most common today in fairway woods.

Perimeter Weighting: The distribution of the weight in a clubhead more evenly around the club, as opposed to weight being more concentrated behind the clubface's center, or the sweet spot. Moving more weight around a club's perimeter was one of the first "game improvement" techniques in golf clubs: It helps create a center-of-gravity location and MOI rating that are advantageous to weaker golfers.

Progressive Offset: Term most commonly applied to iron sets, it means that the amount of offset changes from club to club throughout the set. The offset decreases from the 3-iron to the 4-iron, from the 4-iron to the 5-iron, and so on.

Roll: The vertical (or top-to-bottom) curvature on the face of a wood, especially the driver. Often used in tandem with "bulge," bulge and roll are important for gear effect.

Scorelines: Horizontal lines running across the face of some drivers. They are cosmetic only, having no effect on shots.

Sole: Bottom of the clubhead, the part of the head in contact with the ground when the club is - wait for it - soled.

Spring-Like Effect: A property of golf club clubfaces, and particularly well-known in drivers, that refers to the, well, springiness of the clubface: that is, how much the clubface deflects and rebounds when the face strikes a golf ball at impact. The value known as "characteristic time" (or CT) is a measurement of spring-like effect, and is regulated by the R&A and USGA.

Toe: The end of the clubhead farthest from the shaft. Opposite of "heel."

Toe-Down or Toe-Weighted Putter: Same as toe-balanced putter.

Toe Flow: See toe hang.

Trailing Edge: The bottom edge of the clubhead - where the back of the clubhead meets the sole - that is bringing up the rear (trailing) during a swing.

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