What It Means to Bone a Golf Shot

Perhaps our title should have been "what it meant" to bone a shot, because "bone" is an archaic bit of golf lingo. The term is rarely used in golf today. But it was once (and, you never know, could be again) a synonym for a bladed or thinned shot.

To "bone a shot" means to mis-hit the ball by striking the ball with the leading edge (bottom edge) of an iron clubhead. Or, as the 1961 Dictionary of American Sports (affiliate link) defined it, bone refers to an "iron shot hit on the bottom edge of the clubhead, causing the ball to take off on a line instead of in normal trajectory."

Every golfer who has ever played the game has bladed, or badly thinned, shots. That leading edge of your iron strikes the ball first because the golfer lifted up somewhere in the swing, raising the bottom of the swing arc. If your iron head strikes near the equator of the golf ball, the result will be a very ugly golf shot that screams out very low to the ground and probably off-line. And your hands and arms might experience a stinging or buzzing sensation.

So "boning a shot" is not a fun thing and is a type of mis-hit golfers very much want to avoid. Boning a shot out of sand, or a pitch shot into a green, can produce particularly poor results, possibly sending your ball screaming far over the green into who-knows-what.

If you run across bone, boned or boning in old golf books or publications, now you know what it means. And if current golfers want to reintroduce it within their groups, well, the double entendre opportunities, as with so many other words in golfers' lingo, are ripe.

More old golf words:

Salak, John S. Dictionary of American Sports, 1961, Philosophical Library

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