Fighting Words: Breaking Down The 7 Most Disputed Terms In Golf


"I golfed the other day at my local North Carolina links course, and when I took five hits to get out of the sand near 16 green — with an easy pin placement, no less — I thought, “it’s like I’m in one of the high sand traps at the British Open!”

Did any part of that sentence drive you crazy? Did all of it? If so, you have been conscripted as a soldier on the front lines of golf’s language wars.

I’m not sure exactly why golfers tend to fight about vocabulary more than other fans. It could be a matter of having a lot more time to kill playing the game itself, which carries over into the entire discourse. It could be (I hate to say it), a knock-on effect of whatever elitism remains in the game, where the words we use become a secret code for whether we truly belong. Or maybe it’s none of that, and maybe it doesn’t matter. In any case, I’m not here for a history lesson. I’m here to examine the most prominent debates, and then, using the solemn power vested in me by the Golf Digest byline, to declare a victor once and for all. The decisions that follow will be binding.

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