what is a turkey in bowling
what is a turkey in bowling

Bowling is a beloved pastime for many, providing hours of fun and friendly competition. But have you ever heard of a “turkey” in bowling? If you’re scratching your head in confusion, don’t worry; you’re not alone. In this article, we’ll uncover the mystery behind what precisely a turkey is in the world of bowling and why every bowler aspires to achieve it.

What Is a Turkey in Bowling?

Bowling is a popular recreational activity enjoyed by people of all ages and skill levels. Whether you’re a casual bowler or a serious competitor, you’ve probably heard the term “turkey” being used. But what exactly is a turkey in bowling? This article will delve into the definition, origin, scoring, types, strategies, notable achievements, misconceptions, and celebrations surrounding the elusive turkey in bowling.


A turkey in bowling refers to the remarkable feat of rolling three consecutive strikes in a single game. A strike occurs when all ten pins are knocked down with the first ball rolled in a frame. Therefore, scoring three strikes in a row results in a turkey, also known as a three-bagger. This accomplishment is highly sought after and celebrated by bowlers worldwide.

Origin of the Term

The origin of the term “turkey” in bowling is unclear. Some believe it dates back to the early 19th century when Thanksgiving celebrations were popular in the United States. To add excitement to the game, some bowling alleys began offering turkeys as prizes for achieving three strikes in a row during the Thanksgiving season. Over time, the term “turkey” became synonymous with this feat and has stuck ever since.


The scoring system in bowling can be a bit complex, but understanding it is essential to grasp the significance of a turkey. Each frame consists of two rolls, with the ultimate goal to knock down all ten pins on each roll. When bowlers score a strike, they are awarded ten points plus the number of pins knocked down on the next two rolls. If they score a spare, when all ten pins are knocked down on the second roll of a frame, they receive ten points plus the number of pins knocked down on the next roll. By scoring three consecutive strikes, a bowler accumulates thirty points and sets themselves up for a potentially high-scoring game.

Types of Turkeys

While most bowlers aspire to achieve a typical turkey of three consecutive strikes, there are variations worth mentioning. The first is the “Golden Turkey,” which entails rolling three strikes in the ten frames, resulting in a perfect game with a score of 300. This legendary accomplishment is exceptionally rare and is the pinnacle of bowling success. Additionally, there is the “Wild Turkey,” which refers to rolling three strikes in each of the three games in a traditional three-game series. While not as prestigious as a perfect game, the Wild Turkey still signifies remarkable consistency and skill.

Achieving a Turkey

Achieving a turkey in bowling requires a combination of skill, focus, and some luck. To start, a bowler must consistently hit the pocket, the best area to achieve maximum pin carry. The pocket is located between the 1st and 3rd pins for right-handed bowlers and the 1st and 2nd pins for left-handed bowlers. By consistently hitting the pocket, a bowler increases their chances of knocking down all ten pins with a single roll. Maintaining a consistent approach, release, and follow-through is crucial to delivering a powerful and accurate shot.

Strategies to Get a Turkey

While there is no foolproof strategy for achieving a turkey, some tips and tricks can improve your chances. Firstly, it is essential to stay focused and visualize success. You can instill confidence and improve your mental game by picturing the ball rolling down the lane and knocking down all ten pins. Secondly, adjusting your ball speed and targeting can make a significant difference. If you are consistently coming up light or heavy on your first ball, slightly alter your ball speed to find the optimal entry angle into the pocket. Lastly, understanding lane conditions is crucial. Adjusting your line and equipment based on oil patterns and lane topography can significantly affect pin carry and increase your chances of rolling strikes.

Notable Turkey Achievements

Throughout the history of bowling, there have been many remarkable turkey achievements that deserve recognition. One of the most notable accomplishments is the fabled “Hambone,” which refers to four consecutive strikes in a game. Professional bowler Mike Fagan popularized this term during a televised event. Additionally, there have been instances of bowlers achieving back-to-back turkeys and even multiple turkeys within a single game. The bowling community celebrates and admires these awe-inspiring displays of skill and consistency.

Common Misconceptions

Despite its popularity, some common misconceptions surround the turkey in bowling. One notion is that achieving a turkey guarantees a high overall score. While this is often the case, it is possible to score poorly even after rolling three strikes in a row. The score ultimately depends on the number of pins knocked down throughout the game, not just the number of strikes. Another misconception is that Turkey’s achievements are solely based on luck. While luck certainly plays a role, skill, technique, and mental fortitude are equally vital factors in consistently rolling strikes.

Turkey Celebrations

Celebrating a turkey in bowling is a time-honored tradition among casual and competitive bowlers. It is a moment of jubilation and camaraderie, where bowlers congratulate and cheer for one another’s accomplishments. Some bowlers perform victory dances, high-five their teammates, or even buy drinks for the bowling party. These celebrations create a lively and communal atmosphere, fostering a sense of unity and friendly competition on the lanes.

Famous Turkey Bowlers

Over the years, numerous bowlers have achieved fame and recognition for their exceptional turkey achievements. Names like Pete Weber, Walter Ray Williams Jr., and Norm Duke have become synonymous with sports excellence. These professionals have accomplished numerous turkeys and left indelible marks on the history of bowling through their remarkable performances and records. Their dedication and skill continue to inspire and motivate aspiring bowlers worldwide.

In conclusion, a turkey in bowling refers to the consecutive achievement of three strikes in a single game. It is a feat that symbolizes skill, consistency, and a little bit of luck. While the term’s origin remains somewhat mysterious, the turkey holds a special place in the hearts of bowlers. Whether it is the pursuit of a perfect game or the sheer thrill of rolling consecutive strikes, the turkey is a critical milestone in a bowler’s journey. So, if you ever find yourself on the approach, remember to stay focused, maintain your technique, and aim for that elusive turkey. Happy bowling!

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Jack Jones
Hello! I'm Jack Jones, and I'm thrilled to welcome you to the world of bowling at landofbowling.com. As a dedicated bowler and bowling enthusiast, I am excited to share my passion for the sport with you and provide valuable tips to enhance your bowling skills. With years of experience in the bowling industry, I have gained a deep understanding of the game and the techniques required to improve your performance on the lanes. I have had the privilege of bowling in various leagues and tournaments, honing my skills and learning from top-notch professionals along the way. Through my articles and content on landofbowling.com, my aim is to guide beginners and experienced bowlers alike towards achieving their personal goals on the lanes. Whether it's refining your bowling technique, mastering tricky oil patterns, selecting the right equipment, or strategizing your game, I'm here to equip you with the knowledge and insights you need to excel. I strongly believe that bowling is not just a sport but a way of life. It brings people together, fosters friendly competition, and provides a platform for personal growth. My writing philosophy is centered around promoting a positive and inclusive bowling community where everyone can thrive and enjoy the game. As you explore the rich resources and articles on landofbowling.com, I encourage you to reach out and engage with me. Share your experiences, ask questions, and let's build a vibrant community of bowling enthusiasts who are passionate about improving their game. Thank you for joining me on this exciting bowling journey. Together, let's knock down those pins and inspire each other to reach new bowling heights! Sincerely, Jack Jones