What Does Up-And-Down Mean In Golf?

We occasionally recommend products we love and might be paid a share of the sale.

Golf is full of interesting, but sometimes confusing, phrases and terminology. Getting “up-and-down” is one such golf phrase that often confuses new players or casual golf fans.

This article will explain exactly what up-and-down means in golf and why it’s important to get the ball up-and-down as often as possible. We’ll also show you some examples and provide tips to help you get up-and-down more frequently in your own golf game.

What Does Up-And-Down Mean In Golf
What Does Up-And-Down Mean In Golf?

Getting Up-And-Down In Golf – What Does It Mean?

In golf, up-and down means getting the ball on the green with one chip, pitch or approach shot, and then into the hole with just one putt. This sequence of up on the green, followed by down in the hole, produces the highly desired up-and-down event.

This phrase is usually reserved for situations when the golfer is unable to hit the green in regulation and needs to get the ball up-and-down to save par. Some golfers modify the phrase and say up-and-in instead.

However, the phrase applies to other situations as well. Using the term up-and-down is appropriate whenever a player can get the ball up on the green with one shot and down in the hole on the next shot. 

This includes shots from the fairway that result in birdies. It is also commonly used when a player is assessed a penalty stroke and is still able to save par by getting the ball up-and-down after dropping the ball.

Why Is Getting Up-And-Down Important In Golf?

All golfers miss shots occasionally. How well the golfer can recover greatly impacts their success on the golf course. 

Being able to get the ball up-and-down allows the player to save shots and keep their scores lower. For better golfers, this means saving par. However, getting up-and-down to save bogey is just as important for the higher or average handicap golfer.

Benjamin Franklin once said, “a penny saved is a penny earned.” The same is true in golf. Saving shots whenever and wherever you can is key to playing good golf.

Great Examples Of Successful Up-And-Down Plays In Golf

Watching Tiger Woods get up and down on the 18th hole at Augusta National is a thing of beauty!

Here is another excellent example of an up-and-down from Jordan Spieth in the final round of the Tour Championship in 2015.

Phil Mickelson provides another perfect example of an up-and-down from the bunker at the Shell Houston Open in 2014.

How To Get Up-And-Down More Often In Golf

The first steps when trying to get up-and-down in golf is hitting the ball close to the hole. It seems obvious but the first part is critical and requires accuracy in both direction and distance. Never underestimate the importance of being pin high.

In most situations, chipping will produce a better result than pitching. By chipping the ball, you use a short swing, and the ball only fly a short distance in the air before rolling the rest of the way on the green.

Be sure to read the break of the green and hit the ball on the correct line. Also consider the uphill or downhill slope to ensure the ball rolls the correct distance.

The second half of the up-and-down is the all-important putt. To get the ball down with the putter, you need focus and steady hands. Pick the correct line and make a smooth putting stroke.

Hitting Accurate Up Shots

The only way to successfully get up-and-down more often is to practice. There are no short cuts in golf. Practice, practice, and more practice! Be sure to focus on both halves of the up-and-down for the most success.

Start by practicing your chipping with different clubs. Focus on hitting the ball on the correct line. After you can hit it online consistently, begin working on hitting the ball the correct distance. Missed shots to the right and left can be just as bad as missed shots that end up short or long of the hole. 

Once you’re feeling confident, you can start trying to leave the ball in the correct position for the putt. It’s much easier to make a straight uphill putt than trying to make a slippery downhill bender. Putts that break toward your body (right to left for righthanded players) are also easier than putts that break away from you.

Making The Down Putts Consistently

Once you’re able to chip or pitch the ball close to the hole, your chances to complete the up-and-down are greatly improved. The next step is to make the putt.

Spend a lot of time practicing putts from 10 feet and in. Create a practice sequence that includes a variety of distances (3-, 5-, 7-, and 10-foot putts) as well as uphill, downhill, and right/left breaking putts.

A consistent pre-shot process and a calm smooth stroke will get you most of the way there. Practice and patience will take you the rest of the way

Work on both halves of the up-and-down equally. Practice as much as you can, and you’ll be saving pars more often.

Up-And-Down Golf Term
Up-and-Down Golf Term

Confusing Up-And-Down With Match Play Scores

Some people confuse the phrase up-and-down with the score announcements in match play matches. This is an understandable mistake. 

You will often hear match play scores announced as 4 Up or 2 Down. This can easily be confused with the golf term up-and-down if you’re new to the game. Don’t even get me started on the golf term dormie!

We’ve discussed how match play works and the match play scoring system in previous articles. Other golf games like Scotch and Hi-Lo may also announce scores in this way.


The term up-and-down refers to the process of hitting approach shots up on the green and making the subsequent putt down in the hole. This sequence is critical for shooting good scores in golf. You might not get the nearie, but saving par is always good.

Practice all aspects of the short game and watch your scores and handicap improve!

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are a few frequently asked questions about the phrase “up and down” in golf:

How is up-and-down different from a chipping in?

The chip-in is when a golfer can get the ball into the hole in one stroke from off the green. An up-and-down is when a golfer can get the ball into the hole in two strokes, after missing the green.

How does up-and- down affect my score?

Up-and-down can dramatically affect your score and is the best way to save strokes. A golfer who can execute an up-and-down regularly is more likely to be successful in the game and shoot lower scores.

Is up-and-down only used in professional golf?

No, the term up-and-down is used in golf at all levels, from amateur to professional. It reflective of a golfer’s skill and a great way to save strokes on the golf course.

David Shelly
Latest posts by David Shelly (see all)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *