What Is a Turkey in Golf? — (Golf Instructor’s Advice)

What Is a Turkey in Golf According to Tell Me More Golf Instructors Assisting with Turkey Scorekeeping

As the head golf instructor at Tell Me More Golf, and in this article, I will explain a golf scoring term we’ve received many questions about: the “Turkey”. 

Golf is a game filled with strange lingo, but some terms are definitely stranger than others. After reading this article, you’ll know what the Turkey means, how to score it, and where the name comes from. 

What Is a Turkey In Golf?

Picture this: You’re on fire, playing three consecutive holes, and on each one, you score a birdie. 

That’s a turkey!

Three birdies in a row is the hattrick of golf. It’s that sweet moment when everything clicks, and your swings are as smooth as butter. 

In the world of golf, a “turkey” is like a little pocket of magic on the fairways and greens. It’s not about the bird you might gobble up on Thanksgiving, but rather a fantastic feat on the course. 

So, in golf lingo, when someone talks about a turkey, they’re really celebrating a remarkable trio of birdies, which is a rare and delightful accomplishment


How Do You Score a Turkey?

Scoring a “turkey” in golf is a notable accomplishment that reflects a player’s consistency and skill on the course. To achieve a turkey, a golfer must score three consecutive birdies on three consecutive holes during a round of golf. 

A birdie occurs when a player completes a golf hole in one stroke less than its designated par.

So, to score a turkey, a golfer needs to string together three impressive under-par performances in a row. 

It’s a rare feat that requires precision, focus, and a strong understanding of the course’s challenges. Scoring a turkey is a moment of pride for any golfer and a testament to their ability to perform under pressure.

Turkey Scoring Example

To give you an even clearer idea of what scoring a Turkey looks like, we’ve made this very straightforward example of three consecutive holes, where the score totals up to a turkey. 

  • Par 4: If the first hole you birdie is a par 4, you took 3 strokes to finish the hole. This typically means hitting a good tee shot, a fantastic approach shot, and making the putt.
  • Par 3: If the next hole you play is a par 3, you can only take 2 strokes to get the golf ball in the hole. On a par 3, this means hitting a great tee shot close to the pin, and then making the putt. 
  • Par 5: After your first two birdies in a row, if your next hole is a par 5, you need to finish the hole in 4 strokes to birdie it, and make a turkey. Usually, this means hitting a great drive, a good second shot, a great approach shot, and making the putt. Some golfers will hit the green in 2, but that’s relatively unusual. 


Why Is It Called Turkey?

The golf term “turkey” likely got its name from an American tradition that dates back to the 19th century.

In some golf clubs and social circles, there was a tradition of awarding a turkey (the bird) as a prize for various achievements, including achieving three consecutive birdies. 

Making three consecutive birdies is extremely challenging, even for scratch golfers. So being awarded a turkey is definitely fair. 

Golf vs Bowling – The Term Turkey 

“Golf” and “bowling” both have a unique connection to the term “turkey,” but they refer to different achievements in each sport.

On the golf course, a “turkey” is a scoring term used when a player achieves three consecutive birdies on three consecutive holes during a round.

A birdie in golf is when a player completes a hole in one stroke less than its designated par. 

In bowling, a “turkey” refers to a different, but somewhat similar achievement. It means that a bowler has achieved three consecutive strikes in a game, which is knocking down all ten pins with three consecutive rolls of the ball. 

We might be biased, as we’re golfers and not bowlers, but we’d say that scoring a turkey in golf is more challenging than a turkey in bowling. 


TellMeMoreGolf.com – Frequently Asked Questions

How many strokes is a turkey?

A “turkey” in golf is not measured in strokes. Instead, it signifies the achievement of scoring three consecutive birdies on three consecutive holes, which means completing those holes in a total of three strokes less than their pars. 

To give you a scoring example, a turkey can mean hitting 2 on a par 3, 3 on a par 4, and 4 on a par 5. This needs to happen in a row to count as a turkey. 

Has anyone birdied all 18 holes?

No, no one has ever birdied all 18 holes, at least in a professional golf tournament or another official event of some sort.

This means that not even the likes of prime Tiger Woods had the game to pull this off

Somebody having 18 birdies on a scorecard will likely never happen, as it requires unprecedented skill combined with extreme levels of luck. 

The largest number of birdies ever scored on a PGA Tour event is 32, but that’s over 4 rounds. This feat has been accomplished by three players, including Jon Rahm. 

What is a hole in one on a par 5 called?

Scoring a hole-in-one on a par 5 is pretty near impossible, and it would mean a score of 4 under par. This is called scoring a condor. It would also simply be called an ace, as a hole-in-one is a hole-in-one. 

What is a hole in one on a par 6 called?

The official golf associations do not recognize a par 6 as a “real” hole, and there is no scoring terminology for an ace on one. 

However, in golf, a hole-in-one is referred to as an ace, no matter the hole’s par



In golf, the term “turkey” is far from a Thanksgiving feast, but rather a rare and thrilling accomplishment on the course. Achieving a turkey involves scoring three consecutive birdies on three consecutive holes during a round, which showcases exceptional skill and consistency

While this scoring term may seem very strange, its origins can be traced back to a 19th-century tradition in the United States, where a turkey was awarded as a prize for this remarkable golfing feat. So, the next time you hear someone talk about a turkey in golf, you’ll know it’s not about the bird but a trio of birdies.


Patrick Corley Tell Me More Golf Instructor and Coach
Patrick Corley
From a golf scholarship to a Southern California University, to a private golf coaching career and an instructor position at a nonprofit organization, I’m here to help you get better at golf! With my 50+ years of golf experience; I bring you Tell Me More Golf. A golf coaching website that helps your game with instructional golfing content that’s ultimately geared toward making you a better golfer and having more fun!
Our golf instructor team brings it all to you, so enjoy!

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