What Is a 'Snowman' in Golf?

It's a score no golfer wants, and it can turn into a 'blizzard'

A snowman on the first fairway with the clubhouse in the background at St Andrews Old Course
This snowman at St. Andrews apparently loves golf. But golfers do NOT love making a snowman!. Brian Morgan/Getty Images

A snowman sounds like something that should be fun to make. But in golf it most definitely is not. In golf, a snowman is something you very much want to avoid.

That's because "snowman" is a slang term golfers use for a score of eight on any individual hole. Use eight strokes to play a hole and, sorry bud, you just made a "snowman." A golf snowman won't melt anything but your scorecard.

Why 'Snowman'?

How did "snowman" come to mean a score of eight? Look closely at that numeral — 8. What does it look like? Well, it kinda, sorta looks like one round ball of snow placed on top of another ball of snow: the shape of an "8" is the shape of a snowman.

Examples of Usage

A golfer who just made an eight might tell his marker, "Put down a snowman on the scorecard for me." Or simply cry out in anguish, "Oh, no! The dreaded snowman!"

Oftentimes, one's opponents or fellow-competitors will point it out for you. If you're playing in a group with buddies who like to rib one another, they will surely let you know that a score of eight is in danger of happening: "Don't miss this putt or you'll have a snowman on your card."

When a Snowman Turns Into a Blizzard

Put more than one hole with a score of "8" together and your snowman just got worse: two or more scores of eight back-to-back or in close proximity during a round of golf can be called a "blizzard." That term is used in other ways, too:

  • A golfer who winds up with an 18-hole score of 88 can be said to have shot a "blizzard."
  • Or two golfers who both score eight on the same hole just experienced a blizzard.

And a golfer who makes eights too often risks being nicknamed "Frosty" by his or her golf buddies.

Snowman is one of several terms used as slang by golfers for specific scores. For example, "hockey sticks" refers to an overall score of 77; shooting "trombones" means 76. As for single-hole scores, scoring a "hangman" is a score of nine and a "Bo Derek" is a 10.

"Snowman" is the most common and most widely used of such terms. In fact, one sometimes, on the relatively rare occasions when a tour pro makes an eight or threatens to do so, hears the term on televisions broadcasts of golf tournaments.