NCG's Golf Glossary: What is a turkey?

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I bet you all think this something bad.

We’ve had chicken stick, whiff and sandbagger in recent weeks and they’ve all been toeing a fairly negative line, to say the least.

Well, you’re in for a surprise.

Word of the week: Turkey

Dictionary definition

A large gamebird native to North America and a popular food on festive occasions, such as Thanksgiving and Christmas.

[informal] Something that is extremely or completely unsuccessful, especially a play or film; a stupid or inept person.

What it actually means

Proper golfers, the ones who hit fairways and greens with such boring regularity, love this word. It means they are having a heck of a round.

Unfortunately for me, I’ve yet to enjoy a whole turkey on a golf course. I’ve barely even managed a leg.

For it refers to a hat-trick – a trio of birdies in succession in one round of golf. It’s a great thing, but don’t you think turkey is an odd word?

It’s hard to say why such a weird looking creature, and a term that’s generally used in derision, was chosen for a feat that’s actually something we’d all quite like to achieve.

Maybe they just ran out of birds.

Birdie, eagle, albatross – the wonderful condor (a hole-in-one at a par 5 or a 2 on a par 6, the rarest event in golf) – all provide an image of wondrous beings soaring in flight.

Turkey. It just doesn’t sound right.

Its origin is almost certainly American in nature. In ten-pin bowling, a trio of consecutive strikes is called a turkey, while six in a row is known as a wild, or golden, turkey.

It wouldn’t be the first time golf has borrowed from another sport to expand its lexicon.

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