Teaching Terms

The following terms and definitions will assist you with communicating with your instructor and fellow golfers.


Acceleration – A positive increasing change in the velocity of an object; in golf usually referring to the hands, arms or club head. A major objective of all swings from the beginning of the forward swing to impact.

Angle of Approach – The steepness of descent or ascent of the club head’s forward swing which influences the trajectory and distance a ball will travel.

Axis – A straight line around which a body rotates. (There are several axes in the golf swing. The one most frequently referred to is the spine, around which the upper body rotates.)


Balance – Equilibrium in a static position, i.e., at address (see Dynamic Balance).

Bobbing – Lowering, then raising, or raising, then lowering, the swing center during the course of the swing.

Bump and Run – A shot around the green deliberately played into a bank or hill to deaden the speed while still allowing the ball to bound forward.


Casting – A premature release of the cocked wrists on the forward swing that causes the club head to arrive at the ball of sequence ahead of the hands and arms. Also known as “hitting from the top.”

Centrifugal Force – The action in a rotating body tending to move mass away from the center. The force one feels in the downswing that pulls the club head outward and downward extending the arms and encouraging the club head to take a circular path

Center of Rotation – The axis around which the body winds and unwinds, i.e., the spine.

Centripetal Force – The force that tends to move things toward the center, around which they are turning. Gravitation is an example.

Chicken Wing – Folding or collapsing the left arm at the elbow in the forward sing so that it is bent, pointing away from the side of the body. (Generally considered a swing fault, however, it can be used effectively to stop clubface rotation such as in a bunker shot, pitch shot or putt.) (block and fold)

Chip and Run – A low trajectory shot played to the apron, or green, or around the green, in which the roll is considerably longer than the carry.

Clearing the left side – Turning the hips to the left of the target so the arms may follow in sequence.

Conservation of Angular Momentum (COAM) – A law of physics that allows the player to produce large amounts of kinetic energy. As the body shifts its weight and turns toward the target in the forward swing, the mass (arms and club) is pulled away from the center into an extended position by centrifugal force. By temporarily resisting that pull as well as the temptation to assist the hit by releasing too early, one maintains the angle formed between the club shaft and the left arm and conserves the energy until a more advantageous moment. It has been referred to as “the delayed hit,” “the late hit,” “connection,” “lag loading,” “the keystone,” or COAM, but when performed correctly may simply be called “good timing.”


Deceleration – A negative change in the velocity of a moving object. In golf it refers usually to decreasing club head speed. It is a major error when occurring prior to impact.

Dynamic Balance – Transferring the focus of weight appropriately during the golf swing while maintaining body control.


Early Hit – When a player prematurely releases angular momentum in the forward swing, causing a reduction of speed at impact. (hitting from the top, throwaway)

Effective Loft – The actual loft of the clubface when it strikes the ball. Because the sole configuration, head design, hosel boring and the player’s technique, the built-in loft can be varied, thus becoming effective loft.

Extension – Achieving the desired length of the left arm at impact and the right arm at post impact in the swing. (This position can be produced naturally by centrifugal force or willfully by applied leverage.) May also apply to positions at the top of the backswing. (expansion; extended radius)


Flop Shot – A loose-wristed pitch in which the club is taken abruptly up on the backswing then dropped lazily and steeply down, sliding the club head underneath the ball.

Follow-Through – The remainder of the swing once the ball has been struck. (In theory there can be no effect on the shot after the ball has left the clubface. In practice, focusing on a sound follow-through may positively influence what goes on before.

Forward Swing – Once the backswing has been completed, the motion of the body, arms, hands and club in the opposite direction through the ball. This term, “forward swing,” should replace “downswing” in golf terminology as it is semantically parallel (“backswing”/ “fowardswing”) and directs the player in a more positive action toward the target, not the ground.


Grip (technique / principle) – The placement, positioning, pressure and precision a player employs in applying his hands to the club.


Impact – The moment the club head, while in contact with the ball, transfers its energy to the ball.

Inside-To-Out – A swing path in which the club head approaches the ball from inside the target line and after contact continues forward, crossing that line to the outside before coming around to the finish.


Kinesiology – The scientific study of man’s movement and the movements of implements of equipment which he might use in exercise, sport or other physical activity.

Kinetic Energy – The form of energy associated with the speed of an object. Its equation is: KE = ½ mv2; or kinetic energy = ½ x mass x velocity squared. (It is obvious from the formula that increasing club head velocity has more potential for producing distance than increasing the club head weight.)


Lever System – The skeletal system is composed of numerous bones that, in mechanical terms, act as levers. The two primary levers in the golf swing with which teachers most often deal are: 1) the left arm, comprised of the radius and ulna of the lower arm and the humerus in the upper arm, and 2) the club when the left wrist becomes cocked.

Loft – The degree of pitch angle built into the clubface. Also, to lift a ball into the air with the club.


One-Piece Takeaway – An early portion of the backswing in which the arms, hands and wrists move away from the ball in nearly the same relation to other as they were at address. The wrists may cock very slightly but neither fan nor hood face.

Outside-To-In – When the swing path of the club head approaches the ball outside the target line, and then, after contact, crosses that line directly to the inside and around to the finish. The downswing plane with this pattern is invariably steeper than the backswing plane.


Release – Allowing or causing the body and club in the forward swing to return the clubface to square and to free the potential power created in the backswing.

Reverse Weight Shift – During the backswing, moving either the upper or lower part of the body in a direction opposite from that which is mechanically sound, i.e., forward (to the left) of the body’s centerline rather than behind it (to the right).


Spot Putting – Using an intermediate target on the line to the cup, such as a discoloration of grass or ball mark, as an aiming point for the putt.

Suspension Radius – The distance when measured from a point at the base of neck to the ball that is used as a reference to determine the spine angle inclination and whether or not the swing center has moved.

Swing Center – A point around which the roughly circular motion of the swinging of the arms and upper trunk are made. It is located between the base of the neck and the top of the spine. (Not necessarily fixed, it remains generally constant in the small swings, with some movement allowed, as the swing gets longer. Nevertheless, if the movement of the swing center is too great, the overall timing of the swing becomes more difficult.)


Transition – The change of direction in the swing from back to forward, from away to toward.