Here's What the Golf Lingo 'Frog Hair' Means

Do frogs have hair? In golf they do. The golf slang term "frog hair" (sometimes heard or seen as "frog's hair") refers to the fringe around a green or the apron in front of the green.

And fringe and apron are terms that both refer to golf turfgrass that is mowed shorter than the height of the fairway grass, but higher than the putting green grass. The fringe encircles the green while the apron is an area directly in front of the green.

How old is this lingo? The use of "frog hair" goes well back into the first half of the 20th century, but is a primarily American expression. The advance of international golf broadcasting beginning in the 1960s has spread its use outside the USA's boundaries. But it's still not all that common elsewhere.

The Historical Dictionary of Golfing Terms includes two citations in its entry on frog hair, one from the New York Times in 1977 and one from Sam Snead's 1962 book.

Snead's book, titled The Education of a Golfer, includes one usage: "So I put the shot into the frog hair around the green." In Snead's usage, he is saying that he intentionally hit his approach shot into the frog hair, with its grass slightly higher than the putting green grass, in order to help dampen the bounce and stop his ball quicker.

But the term goes back farther, and the farther back it goes the more its meaning changes to something a little different. In older uses of the term, it often meant grass thicker than typical fringe. For example, in a glossary included in a book for golf professionals written by Betty Hicks in 1949, Hicks defined frog hair as "heavy bermudagrass fringe."

In most uses by recreational golfers today, "frog hair" just means the apron or fringe of the green.

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