What Does The Term ‘Up And Down’ In Golf Mean?

The phrase ‘up and down’ in golf has no actual official meaning, but has come to be used for certain situations on the course

A golfer attempts an up and down in golf from a bunker
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What Does The Phrase ‘Up And Down’ In Golf Mean?

The term up and down in golf means to get up on the green and then getting the subsequent putt down into the hole from wherever the ball is currently lying on the course by taking only a single shot for each part of this equation. 

Therefore technically an up and down in golf means to get an approach shot up onto the green and then holing the first putt. But it has come to be used more often as relating in particular to a chip from a greenside position – quite often a bunker – which gets onto the green and then the putt is holed in one further shot.

Thus when a commentator asks “can such-and-such golfer get up and down from here?” what he or she is in effect asking is "can the golfer hole the ball in two more shots from here with the second one of these shots being a putt played from on the putting surface."

An up and down does not relate to the score for a hole itself, so someone can be described as making an up and down for, for instance, a birdie, just as they could for a bogey or worse.

As noted, there is no official definition of the term up and down in golf. But any one-putt played from on the green will have been part of an up and down. However making a birdie on a par-3 hole which involves a putt is not generally counted as being an up and down. 

What is a sand save?

Sand saves are a particular type of an ‘up and down’. They are defined by the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour – for both of these organisations record these stats for players in their tournaments – as “the percentage of time a player was able to get ‘up and down’ once in a greenside bunker (regardless of the score).” The average on the PGA Tour in 2021 was just over 50%. The best player at making sand saves that season was Brooks Keoepka, who made 51 saves from 78 bunkers.

Roderick Easdale

Contributing Writer Golf courses and travel are Roderick’s particular interests and he was contributing editor for the first few years of the Golf Monthly Travel Supplement. He writes travel articles and general features for the magazine, travel supplement and website. He also compiles the magazine's crossword. He is a member of Trevose Golf & Country Club and has played golf in around two dozen countries. Cricket is his other main sporting love. He is the author of five books, four of which are still in print: The Novel Life of PG Wodehouse; The Don: Beyond Boundaries; Wally Hammond: Gentleman & Player and England’s Greatest Post-War All Rounder.