What is a Mulligan in Golf? A Deep Dive Into Second Chances
In this helpful reader's guide, we'll give you an in-depth look at what a mulligan is, the rules surrounding it, and the stories about the origin of the term.
But what is a mulligan in golf?
But, you may be asking yourself, if they aren't allowed in official play why are they so popular?
Where the Name Comes From
One popular story is about a man named John A. "Buddy" Mulligan. Mulligan was an attendant at for the locker rooms at the Essex Fells Country Club in New Jersey during the 1930s. The story goes that after he had finished cleaning up the locker rooms he would play a round of golf with two well-known golfers at the time, Dave O'Connell, who was an Assistant Golf Professional that worked on the course and taught golf, as well as Des Sullivan, who went on to become an editor for a golf magazine.
One version of the story says that one day he simply hit a bad shot, and then took another shot afterward calling it a "correction shot," but the friends that were with him at the time thought it would be better to name it after him.
A second version of the story says that his friends allowed him to have an extra shot because he was so shaky from a scary drive over a bridge on the way to the golf course.
A third version of the story says that he was given an extra shot because he was rushing, having overslept for his tee-time.
The use of mulligan is so widespread that people sometimes sell mulligan shots at charity golf tournaments.
Among groups that allow for a mulligan to be used, if it can be used for any type of shot, then generally 18 are allowed per round. This is because mulligans are usually only allowed on tee shots because tee shots are known to be a more difficult shot, and it's easy to put a new ball on the tee rather than try to figure out exactly where you took your last shot from.
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