The Ferret and Golden Ferret in Golf

a ferret is not just an animal but a golf slang term

Golfers are not fans of burrowing animals, at least not on golf courses: They dig holes, holes that can damage the course and even catch golf balls rolling along the ground. But golfers love ferrets! Why? Let's find out.

Many golfers use the terms ferret and golden ferret to refer not to the animal, but to specific accomplishments on the golf course. They are golf slang terms, in other words, and both refer to holing out from off the green, but in different ways. Both can also refer to betting games based on those different ways of holing out.

  • Ferret: Ferret is a slang term for knocking the ball into the hole on a shot played from off the green with any club except a putter. Say your golf ball is 20 feet short of the putting green surface. You chip it onto the green and it rolls into the hole. You just made a ferret! A ferret can be scored from anywhere off the green — one foot off the green or 150 yards back in the fairway or anywhere else.

  • Golden Ferret: A "golden ferret" is when your golf ball is in a bunker and you knock that shot into the hole. You're in a greenside bunker next to the 7th green? You take out your sand wedge and blast the ball onto the green, and it rolls into the hole? Congratulations on your golden ferret!

Betting on Ferrets and Golden Ferrets

Ferrets and golden ferrets are often included in those catch-all betting games that go by names such as Junk, Trash, Garbage and Dots: lots of little side bets that golfers keep track of during the round and pay out on at the end.

Let's say you decide each ferret is worth a dollar. Your foursome tees off and, during the round, any made ferrets are marked down. Did you chip in on the 13th hole? You just won a a ferret. The differences are paid out at the end. (Take a look at the chippies side game, too.)

And golden ferrets? When betting ferrets, golden ferrets are most commonly worth double. So if you set the value of a ferret at $1, a golden ferret becomes worth $2.

So, to recap, a ferret is a hole-out from off the green with any club other than putter; a golden ferret is a hole-out from the bunker. When placing a value on them for wagering purposes, a golden ferret is worth double the value of a ferret.

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Photo credit: "Black Footed Ferret" by USFWS Mountain Prairie is licensed under CC PDM 1.0

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