Golf is a sport with fried eggs and waggles, wormburners, yips and duck hooks. It has a language all its own - baffling to novices - covering the good (eagles), the bad (bogeys) and the ugly (shanks). There are flocks of birdies yet very few albatrosses.
In fact, in the long history of pro golf at Torrey Pines, there has only been one albatross, another name for a double eagle (a score of 3-under par on a hole). It's 25 times more rare than a hole-in-one (also known as an ace).
Back in 1987 in the PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines, David Edwards hit a nice drive into the fairway on the par-5 18th of the South Course. With 240 yards to the hole, Edwards used his driver again to mash the ball. It flew straight, took one giant bounce and dived into the cup. Bingo, an albatross. Edwards knew it was pure luck.
"Stuff like this happens to you," said Edwards, "You don't make it happen."
When you're walking around Torrey Pines during the Farmers Insurance Open this week, you might hear a bewildering vocabulary. Here are some definitions that may help:
Birdie/eagle: A birdie is a score of 1-under par. Eagle is 2-under. Every hole is assigned a par number (usually 3, 4 or 5), which indicates the number of strokes it should take a good golfer to get the ball in the hole. So, a 3 on a par-4 is a birdie. A 2 is an eagle. A 1 is a miracle.
Bogey: A score of 1-over par. Two-over par is a double bogey. Three over is just ugly.
Duck hook: A shot that takes an immediate hard left turn for a right-handed golfer, the opposite of a slice. Also called a snap hook or quacker.
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Foot wedge: Kicking the ball into a better position. No, it's not allowed.
Fried egg: A ball half-buried in the sand of a bunker, making it look like a yolk in a sea of white.
Shank: The ugliest of shots, in which the ball comes off the hosel of the club (where the shaft joins the club head) instead of the club face, and squirts low, wild and to the right for a right-handed golfer. In the movie "Tin Cup," the caddie for Roy McAvoy ( Kevin Costner ) says: "The shanks are like a virus. They just show up."
Snowman: An "8" on the scorecard, as in, "Hey, Ted, put me down for a Frosty."
Waggle: A player's pre-shot routine, in which he or she repeats a short mini swing to stay loose before taking a full swing. As in, "Hey, Sergio Garcia ! Swing already!"
Wormburner: A shot that barely gets off the ground, threatening the life of any worm that might raise its head.
Yips: When a player develops a nervous twitch in his putting stroke to make even short putts an adventure. The great golfer Tommy Armour said the yips are "a brain spasm that impairs the short game."
Williams is a freelance writer in San Diego.