According to dict.cc, Golf can mean the following:

(das) Golf = golf [sports]; der Golf = gulf; bay [geogr.]; der Golf = abbreviation for VW Golf

There is also a separate entry for Volkswagen Golf with a rather weird English translation:

(VW) Golf® = (Volkswagen / VW) Rabbit® [USA/Canada] [automot.]

So, what's the association that a native German speaker has with Volkswagen Golf: Is it with a game of golf or with an animal? Or is Golf just a brand name without any associations?

  • 8
    No association.
    – Em1
    Aug 12 '16 at 20:33
  • 3
    It's the game of golf. Similar to the game of polo. Hard to say there is no association when VW used two names of sports.
    – gnasher729
    Aug 12 '16 at 20:35
  • 1
    This werk34.de/product_info.php/info/… is maybe some hint towards the sport.
    – tofro
    Aug 13 '16 at 20:04
  • 3
    You asked for the association which is just a brand name for me. But I think this depends on how and in which context you came first in touch with this word "Golf" as a brand name. For me I learnt this word as a child with about 5 years and did not think of things like golf or polo as sports.
    – Chris623
    Aug 14 '16 at 10:40

A (relatively) plausible background story here claims the name was originally intended to refer not to the sports, but the specific form of sea bay, continuing the series of wind and water phenomenon Volkswagen had used before in Passat and Scirocco and later continued with Jetta and Bora. That article also claims that Blizzard and Caribe would have been alternative proposals.

The linked article claims another funny anecdote, that the initial idea might have come up from learning that the name of one of the VW brass's horses apparently was "Golf" at the time when a name was to be found for the new car.

  • Wow! Who could have thought! Aug 14 '16 at 17:51

Based on the other names Jetta (jet stream) and Passat (trade wind) it could also refer to the gulf stream and not the sport. Either way, for native speakers there is no obvious association with the name of the car.

  • Golfstrom ist aber nicht Golf. Aug 13 '16 at 0:12
  • 1
    That's also my closest association given the names of other VW models.
    – Deve
    Aug 13 '16 at 6:41
  • Again true. Passat, quite like Polo, is a word that I recall having known first as a car name, before actually learning its original meaning. Aug 13 '16 at 7:50
  • 1
    The Scirocco belong to this category as well. Aug 13 '16 at 9:42
  • @userunknown Well, there is Golf as in Golf von Mexiko...
    – yankeekilo
    Aug 13 '16 at 13:32

The main association is with golf as in sports. Volkswagen named other model series Polo and Derby. The term Golf in the geological sense isn't as close to German-speaking countries. But golf, polo, and derby are sports associated with something British and of 'higher' society, so it was probably an innovative idea for Germany of the 1970s, when these cars were introduced. In the meantime, the Golf models have become so ubiquitous as a standard mainstream car that the name 'VW Golf' is an association in its own right, almost like the Käfer (VW Beetle), but in a different way. A book by Florian Illies is titled "Generation Golf", describing life style and values of the generation of Germans born around 1970 as they grew up in the late 1970 and 1980s.

  • 1
    It is maybe the closest I would probably think of in relation to it, but I have never really associated the car with the sports. Golf is just a denomination like "300SL" to me.
    – tofro
    Aug 13 '16 at 6:19
  • 1
    Agree, these car names were by the 1990's rather more ubiquitous than the words they origined from. In fact, when I first heard that there's a sport called polo, I briefly wondered how you could name such a sport after such a car... Aug 13 '16 at 7:47

VW Rabbit seems to be the English name the VW Golf is sold with. In German, there is no Hase at all that comes to your mind.

Basically, there are none of the two associations coming to my mind. It is similar to when I hear - for example - Lamborghini Gallarado.

  • 1
    The English name for the model is Golf. In North America it has been called both Golf and Rabbit.
    – thelem
    Aug 13 '16 at 14:01

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