What is a Mulligan in Golf?

what is a mulligan in golf

Golf is a game that is both rewarding and frustrating at the same time. It can completely ruin an otherwise perfect day on the green when you mess up a shot or putt. Luckily, many amateur and charity events allow golfers to take a mulligan, which allows a second chance on that shot. So what exactly is a mulligan in golf, how do you score it, and when do you usually use it?


Keep reading below for all of the answers!


What is the History of a Mulligan?

what is the history of a mulligan

Legend has it that a guy named Mulligan played golf hundreds of years ago and needed to take multiple shots. He would drive a wagon with his friends to the golf course, which meant he was doing all the work and was a bit tired before getting to the course. On the first tee shot, his buddies gave him an additional second shot to take since he did all of the driving. The golf term “mulligan” then became a saying from the free shot his friends gave him.


Another story of the phrase originates from David Bernard Mulligan in the 1920s. David Bernard Mulligan was a Canadian golfer famous for taking a second shot during a foursome round of golf. He said it was a “correction shot,” known as the mulligan shot.


Finally, another theory was that John A. “Buddy” Mulligan was a locker room attendant in New Jersey. When he would play golf, he would need an extra shot because he wasn’t as good as the rest. The country club members began referring to it as a “mulligan shot” since he would request it.


What is the Purpose of a Mulligan in Golf?

what is the purpose of a mulligan in golf

A mulligan is a correction shot, or a second chance, for a golfer to shoot again without a penalty. Sometimes a lousy shot may happen, so your playing partners might offer you an extra opportunity to correct it.


A mulligan is not allowed in professional games but is generally part of a casual game with friends and charity events. Having the ability to redo a shot is a great way to work on your golf swing without the pressure of knowing a lousy shot can follow you the rest of the game.


Are Mulligans Part of Professional Golf Tournaments?

are mulligans part of professional golf tournaments

According to the official PGA golf rules, there is no mulligan of any kind during a game. That means that during an official golf tournament, you won’t see any mulligans occur, and whatever the hit was counts as a stroke for the golfer. If a golfer loses the ball in the water, they will need a second ball to place roughly where the ball would last be on the green and lose a stroke.


What about Using Mulligans During Charity Events?

What about Using Mulligans During Charity Events

Sometimes during fundraisers, the tournament might sell mulligans to the participants to raise additional money. For example, a country club might sell you five mulligans for an extra twenty dollars during a round of golf. The proceeds of the twenty dollars go to the fundraiser, and it creates a light and friendly atmosphere on the golf course for what matters.


When to take a Mulligan in Golf?

when to take a mulligan in golf

Common reasons to take a mulligan in golf include taking a lousy tee shot, losing the golf ball in the woods or water, on a putt attempt, a shot that lands in the bunker, or just a poor shot on the green. The redo shot allows golf buddies to enjoy being out on the green without the stress of a bad shot to ruin the day. Plus, having a mulligan in place speeds up the pace of play since you might have better field possession on another try.


How Many Mulligans Can you Take in Golf?

How Many Mulligans Can you Take in Golf

The number of mulligans allowed on the golf course depends on the event. For example, charities might offer five mulligans over nine holes for an additional charge of the money. With that being the case, you have a few extra free shots to take during the event if you choose.


Other times, your buddies might agree on one or two mulligans and might only take them during a tee-off. It just depends on what everyone agrees upon before starting the action. It is always acceptable to ask about mulligans before a game begins when in doubt.


How Do you Score a Mulligan in Golf?

Since mulligans are not in the rules of golf, taking one during a game is more out of good sport than anything else. That means taking a mulligan means you redo the shot, and you don’t mark it as anything on the scorecard. Players could tally up mulligans if they want on a scorecard, but most just let it act as a redo and nothing more.


What is the Difference Between a Mulligan and a Handicap in Golf?

What is the Difference Between a Mulligan and a Handicap in Golf

A mulligan is an extra shot someone can take when they mess up and when everyone agrees on how many you can take. Since a mulligan is not part of the official rules of golf, you don’t penalize the player for taking it during a casual round of golf. The mulligan essentially wipes away the previous shot as if nothing happened.


Meanwhile, a handicap is the official calculation of a player’s ten best scores out of the latest twenty rounds of golf. The formula to calculate a handicap gets a bit messy, but a low handicap number represents a good golfer. If you have a high handicap, that signals that you need more strokes to get the ball into the hole.


Conclusion: What is a Mulligan in Golf?

In summary, mulligans in golf are a way to keep the game light and stress-free. While you can’t use a mulligan during a professional game, amateur golf outings with friends might agree upon how many second chances they allow. Charities and fundraisers also like to utilize a few mulligans to increase the funding for the event, so it is a good and fun way to play golf while raising additional money.


It is also interesting how many different theories exist on the term’s origin. While the story changes a bit on the details, the central part is that someone needed an extra shot during golf. Since their last name was mulligan, it became known as a mulligan shot in golf.


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