Golf terms related to golf shot errors are explained – and illustrated – in this section.
Fat | Thin – Blade | Top | Whiff | Shank | Toe | Sky
Double Tap – Double Hit
Overclub | Underclub | Mulligan | Happy Ball
A golfer is said to have hit the ball fat when his club will have penetrated through the ground before striking the ball. Ideally, in a successful strike at the ball, the clubface will come in contact with the ball first before it continues its forward descent into the ground.
Consequence: Hitting a shot fat will result in a loss of distance as the club head will be slowed down by the ground as it travel towards the ball. On approaches, the ball may not reach the green and might require a different shot than a putt, e.g., a pitch or a chip.
More on: How to Fix Fat Shots
Thin | Blade
A golfer will hit a thin shot – or will blade a shot – when the leading edge of his club will strike the side of the ball. On a well executed shot, it is the sweet spot of the clubhead that will strike the ball, hitting the whole of the ball in the process.
Consequence: A ball hit thin will stay very low off the ground, much lower than it should. As a result, the power will be directed towards the forward motion alone, sending the ball shooting forward and rolling for quite a distance upon landing.
More on: How to Fix Thin Shots
A topped shot is an extreme case of a thin shot. Cold topping it, as it is sometimes referred, happens when the clubhead strikes the top half of a golf ball.
Consequence: Topping the ball will result in extreme loss of distance and will take the form of the ball making small hops into the air before coming to rest a few yards in front of its original position.
More on: How to Fix Topped Shots
A whiffed shot refers to an attempt made by a golfer to hit his ball through a live swing, i.e., not during a practice swing, and missing it entirely. The name comes from the sound made by the club traveling at full speed without the expected ball striking noise that is a staple of a golf stroke.
Consequence: Whiffing a ball will result in the total loss of distance, i.e., the ball will remain in its original spot. In accordance to the official rules, the golfer will need to count a whiff as a full stroke, even though the club has not touched the ball at all.
More on: How to Fix Whiffs
A shanked shot will occur when the ball will shoot straight off to the right of the intended target line on a very low trajectory. It usually comes as a result of the ball being hit by the hosel of the club instead of its clubface.
Consequence: A shank shot will often put the golfer in catastrophic situations for the next shot. Indeed, the ball will completely avoid the intended target flight path and will shoot hard right into the rough, or worse, into trees, hazards, or even out of bounds areas.
More on: How to Fix Shanks
A toed shot occurs when the ball is struck by the toe area of the clubface. Ideally and for best results, a ball is to be struck by the middle portion of the clubface, otherwise known as the sweet spot. The toe area of the clubface is located outside of the sweet spot.
Consequence: A shot hit on the toe will not feel as pure as one hit from the sweet spot, resulting in the considerable loss of distance. In some instances, you can confirm that a shot has been hit on the toe by looking at the face of the club and looking for ball or dirt marks from the previous strike.
A sky shot occurs when the ball is struck by the very top part of the clubface, otherwise known as the top edge. As a result, the ball will shoot up very high into the air. Sky shots usually occur from the tee box, where the use of tees is permitted and which allow for the club to travel almost entirely underneath the ball if it is placed too high.
Consequence: While a sky shot will stay in the air for a relatively long time, it will not do so because it has traveled far from where it was hit. Instead it will mostly climb up very high into the air and descend without traveling forward very much.
More on: How to Fix Sky Shots
Double Tap | Double Hit
A double tap occurs when the golfer’s clubhead strikes the ball twice, the first time when the ball is on the ground and the second time shortly after when the ball is off the ground. This type of golf shot error usually occurs near the green during chip shots, when the ball is launched slowly enough for the club to catch up to it after hitting it a first time.
Consequence: According to the official rules, a double hit is to be recorded as one stroke plus one penalty stroke. Also, a double hit will often result in the ball not traveling as far forward as initially planned.
‘Overclubing’ is the act of taking a club that will send the ball over a longer distance than what would normally be required. For example, a golfer will overclub if he selects his 7-iron – which he normally uses for 150 yard shots – for a target that is 140 yards away. It should be noted that overclubing can be done mistakenly or it can be done strategically. Indeed, a golfer who is facing a shot that is directly against the wind will be smart to overclub since the wind will shorten the distance traveled by the ball in the air.
More on: How to Fix Overclub Errors
‘Underclubing’ is the act of taking a club that will send the ball over a shorter distance than what would normally be required. For example, a golfer will underclub if he selects his 9-iron – which he normally uses for 130 yard shots – for a target that is 140 yards away.
As with overclubing, it should be noted that underclubing can be done in error or it can be done on purpose. A golfer whose next shot will travel along with strong back wind will be smart to underclub since the wind will lengthen the distance traveled by the ball in the air.
More on: How to Fix Underclub Errors
The name of the second shot from the tee-box that a golfer is allowed to take without penalty. Because of their friendliness to a golfer’s scorecard, mulligans are never allowed in tournament play and are used instead in very casual games.
How many mulligans are allowed during a round of golf?
Actually, mulligans are not permitted at all if one is to follow the the official rules of golf. Instead they can be tolerated when negotiated amongst friends during a round.
The name of the second shot that a golfer is allowed to take without penalty, specifically from the tee-box on hole #1. Or in other words, a happy ball is the alternative name for a mulligan when it is hit from the very first hole.
How many happy balls are allowed during a round of golf?
As is the case with mulligans, the rules of golf don’t actually permit golfers to use happy balls, or in other words to not be penalized by a bad drive. Regardless, a happy ball is the designation of a mulligan when it is hit from the first tee, and as such a golfer could theoretically only be allowed one happy ball during a round of eighteen holes.