Proper Use of 'Green' in Golf Terminology


A good deal of confusion surrounds the use of the word green in proper golf terminology. Should one use "green fee" or "greens fee?" Is it a "greenkeeper" or "greenskeeper?" Exactly what area does the word "green" pertain to on a golf course? And is it the "USGA Green Section" or the "USGA Greens Section?"

Green is a noun and has two proper golf meanings. The first meaning is chiefly of Scottish origin. It simply defines all territory of a golf course, or all areas outside the confines of the clubhouse. Thus, it can be used in relation to all outdoor areas of a golf course.

The second meaning, most readily known to modern audiences, means the area of short grass surrounding a hole. This area is generally mown and rolled to the smoothest possible texture. In keeping with the first meaning, a greenkeeper is someone whose responsibilities entail maintaining all areas of the golf course outside the clubhouse. The term was changed to golf course superintendent in the United States several decades ago.

In most cases of using the word green in golf terminology, the use should be singular. Green fee, greenkeeper, green committee, and USGA Green Section are all correct uses.

One final word on this subject. Green, in proper golf terminology, does NOT refer to any particular color found on a golf course. It only applies to areas or regions of a golf course.

The above article was written by the USGA Green Section Staff and originally appeared in the USGA's April 1, 2011, Green Section Record. For additional information about the Record or the USGA Green Section, visit http://www.usga.org/course_care/green_section_record/Green-Section-Record.


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