What Is 'the Turn' (and 'Making the Turn') on a Golf Course?

"The turn" is an expression golfers use to denote the part of the golf course where the front nine turns into the back nine. When you've reached "the turn," you've reached the halfway point of an 18-hole golf course. So "making the turn" means leaving the front nine and moving on to the back nine.

What ground, exactly, is covered by "the turn"? The expression is less about geography than it is about the idea of transitioning from the first half of the golf course to the second half of the golf course. But if you really want to know where, on a golf course, "the turn" is physically located, you can think of it as the ground you cover as you walk off the putting green of the ninth hole and walk onto the teeing area of the 10th hole.

Some golfers would even include the pro shop, clubhouse or snack shack as part of "the turn." After all, many golfers look forward to "making the turn" as a time when they can grab a snack or a beverage, or make a quick run to the bathroom if required.

But the key thing to know about the turn is that it's a reference to leaving the front nine and arriving at the back nine.

Golfers use the term in many ways, including as a reference point for one's score: "I was 2-over at the turn," or "when I reach the turn I need to be even par if I want to match my personal best." Or golfers just speak of the turn as a demarcation point for the round: "When we make the turn we'll stop and grab some hot dogs to fuel up for the second half of the round."

Why "the turn" — why that specific turn of phrase? In the early days of golf, on Scottish links courses, many of the links were set up in an out-and-back design. That is, the holes were strung one after another, sometimes in a literal straight line. So golfers would walk out to play first nine holes, strung one after another, leading away from the clubhouse/pro shop. Then, golfers would literally turn around — "making the turn" — and start playing back the opposite direction, going back toward the pro shop/clubhouse over the last nine holes.

So, to recap: As a concept, the turn means the halfway point of an 18-hole round of golf. As a physical location, it refers to space covered when golfers walk from the ninth green to the 10th tee. And "making the turn" means you've completed the front nine and are about to start the back nine.

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