What It Means to 'Air Mail' a Golf Shot

"Oh, buddy, you air mailed that one," one golfer says to another. Is that a good or a bad thing? What, in a golf context, does "air mail" mean?

"Air mail" is a slang term in golf that is most commonly applied to approach shots that are hit too far, so that they fly over the green. But, really, an air mailed golf shot can be any shot where the golfer's ball flies a lot farther than intended, or expected. While the term usually means something bad, it can mean something good, too.

First, the most common usage, as already noted, is hitting a ball over the intended green (also called "flying the green"). You set up for a 130-yard approach shot into a putting green, but the ball flies 150 yards, over the green, and now your ball is sitting back behind the green. You just air mailed that green, pal.

Or maybe you have 220 yards to clear a creek, so you intended to play a 190-yard shot to lay up short of the hazard. But, whoops, you air mail it right into that water.

It occurs to us that many young people today probably don't even know where the term "air mail" originates. Back in the early days of airplane history, postal services around the world realized they could deliver letters much more quickly on an airplane than on a train or other means of transport. So "air mail" originally referred to that, and letter-writers would pay extra to get their letters onto a plane for fast delivery.

What about an example of a positive use of "air mail" in golf? Say you tee up your golf ball on a long par-5 that you aren't expecting to reach in two, but put a real wallop on the ball. "Wow, I air mailed that one, I might be able to reach to the green in two!"

More definitions:

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