What Does Up and Down Mean In Golf? (Overview)

up and down in golf is making a shot in two strokes

In golf, an up and down is hitting the ball from somewhere besides the green onto the green and taking one putt to complete the hole. In other words, it takes two total strokes to hole the ball, beginning from off the green.

What Does Up and Down Mean For Golf?

Getting up and down is a skill that separates bad golfers from good golfers and amateurs from professionals. So, what does up and down mean in golf?

Golf has countless phrases that only make sense to other golfers. Getting “up and down” is no different. 

To put it simply, this means you hit the ball onto the green and use only one putt to complete the hole. 

Your first shot can be from anywhere besides the green. When you’re able to putt the ball into the hole from where it lands, you’ve gone up and down.

Up and Down Definition For Golf

Let’s break it down even more. The first shot needs to go from off the green onto it. This is the “up.” 

The second shot is from on the green and goes into the hole. This is the “down.”

Is an Up and Down Always for Par?

An up and down in golf can be for any score on a hole. Golfers can go up and down for birdie, par, bogey—whatever. 

As long as it only takes one shot after getting onto the green, it fits the criteria. 

Up and downs are commonly associated with pars. This is because of the natural focus on avoiding bogeys or higher. 

For the par scenario, someone does not hit the green in regulation but saves par thanks to going up and down. 

People highlight this stat to show professional players who might be inaccurate, but recover well. 

While saving par is almost always an up and down, an up and down is not always for par.

Sand Save

Suppose you hit your tee shot on a par three into a greenside bunker. It will take an up and down to save par. 

If you’re able to accomplish this feat, it’s called a sand save and is a stat tracked by many golfers.

While you can go up and down from a trap and “save” bogey or worse, the only time it counts as a sand save is when the up and down results in a par. 

No matter your score, any time you manage to get up and down from a bunker is a win—sand save or not.

From The Fringe

A common misconception among golfers is that the fringe is an extension of the green. It is not. 

Hitting the ball onto the green with your second shot on a par 4 is not a green in regulation. 

You also can’t mark your ball on the fringe. Taking two putts with the first from the fringe is not a two-putt but a one-putt. 

Hitting the ball from the fringe onto the green and making your next putt is an up and down. 

While this doesn’t count in the minds of some golfers, it still qualifies on a technical level. Even though your “on” wasn’t from the fairway, rough, or a trap, it checks all the boxes.

Can You Go Up And Down With Only A Putter?

There are no pictures on the scorecard, and there’s no club restrictions for making an up and down. 

You can use your putter from the fringe, rough, or 20 yards short. If you use your putter from off the green and make your next shot on the green, it is an up and down.

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