'Laying 3,' 'Lie 4': What Those Golf Score Terms Mean

On a television broadcast of a golf tournament, you might hear an announcer say, "She's laying three." Or on a golf course, you might an exchange between golfers: "What do you lie?" "I lie four."

What do those terms mean? They are scoring terms that tell you how many strokes the golfer has played so far.

When a golfer says, "I'm laying three," or "laying two" or "I lay four," they are telling you that they have played three strokes so far on that hole, two strokes so far, or four strokes so far, respectively. The "lay" part of the expression refers to the golf ball being at rest. So before you play your next stroke, your score so far is, for example, three. You lay three.

The same with "lie two," "lie three," "lie four": The "lie" part of the expression refers to your golf ball at rest, and the number represents the number of strokes you played to get your ball into that position.

What do you lay when your ball is on the tee at the start of the hole? "I lie zero," would technically be accurate, because no strokes have been played yet. But that is the lone circumstance where you never hear golfers use the "laying X" or "lie X" phrase. Everyone understands, after all, when the ball is on the tee that no strokes have yet been played.

Compare to 'playing the like' and 'playing the odd,' archaic terms that referred to the next stroke.

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