In golf, what is an ‘archaeopteryx’?

In golf, the expressions used to describe a score under par on a single hole – ‘birdie’, ‘eagle’, ‘albatross’ and ‘condor’ – follow an ornithological theme. However, heading in the over par direction, terms such as ‘bogey’, ‘double bogey’ and so on follow no such theme and are consequently rather drab by comparison. That is, of course, until the score over par reaches eye-watering numbers, when the ‘archaeopteryx’ – a feathered dinosaur, once considered the oldest fossil bird – puts in an appearance.

In golfing parlance, an ‘archaeopteryx’ is a score of 15-over-par or, Heaven forbid, higher, on a single hole. Probably the most famous example of an archeopteryx was that recorded by Tommy Armour in the Shawnee Open at Shawnee Country Club, Oklahoma in 1927. Fresh from victory, in an 18-hole playoff, in the US Open the previous week, ‘The Silver Scot’ teed it up of the par-5 17th hole and proceeded to bludgeon his way into the record books. He reached double-figures, not only for strokes played, but also for the number of balls he struck out of bounds, and eventually signed for an 18-over-par 23; he still holds the record for the highest score on a single hole in the history of the PGA Tour.