What Is a Mulligan in Golf?

What is a Mulligan in Golf

You might have heard of “mulligan golf,” which is all about getting a second chance to take a shot if your first one didn’t go as planned. A mulligan is like hitting the rewind button, giving you a do-over to make a better shot.

In this post, we’re going to dig into the history and origins of this practice and see how it fits into today’s golf scene.

We’ll dive into the nitty-gritty of mulligans in golf, exploring when it’s cool to take one and how it can help improve your game. Plus, we’ll lay down some basic guidelines for taking a mulligan to make sure everyone plays fair and square.

So, whether you’re a weekend golfer or someone looking to sharpen your skills, learning about mulligans and how to use them effectively can offer some valuable insights and strategies to boost your performance on the green. Stick around for an eye-opening chat about mulligan golf!


What is a Mulligan in Golf?

Have you ever hit a terrible shot off the tee and wished for a do-over? In golf, there’s actually a term for that second chance: it’s called a mulligan.

A mulligan allows you to retake your shot without penalty. While not officially recognized by the United States Golf Association (USGA), this informal rule has become widely accepted among weekend golfers and friendly games.

A mulligan can be taken after any type of poor shot, such as hitting out of bounds or into water hazards. However, it’s important to note that taking multiple mulligans during one round may not be well-received by fellow players.

Maintain good etiquette and tempo by restraining yourself to a maximum of one or two mulligans per round.

  • Origin: The exact origin of the term “mulligan” is unclear, but several theories exist. One popular belief attributes its creation to David Bernard Mulligan, a Canadian amateur golfer who would occasionally take an extra shot if he was unhappy with his initial attempt while playing with friends at the Lambert Country Club in the 1920s.
  • Purpose: The primary purpose of allowing mulligans is to make casual rounds more enjoyable for amateur golfers who may struggle with consistency on their tee shots. By providing some leniency on bad shots, players can focus more on having fun rather than stressing over every mistake they make.


However, taking a mulligan is strictly prohibited in competitive play or official tournaments governed by USGA rules. So, instead of getting another chance at no cost, like in casual play, players must follow the stroke and distance rule to assess penalties for lost balls or shots hit out of bounds.


Key Takeaway: A mulligan in golf is a second chance to retake your shot without penalty, which is widely accepted among weekend golfers and friendly games. Limiting yourself to just one or two per round for good sportsmanship and keeping the game moving at an appropriate pace is important. However, taking a mulligan is strictly prohibited in competitive play or official tournaments governed by USGA rules.


When to Take a Mulligan

When to take a Mulligan

Knowing when to take a mulligan in golf can be crucial for weekend golfers looking to improve their game. While it’s not officially recognized by the United States Golf Association (USGA), taking a mulligan is widely accepted among casual players as an opportunity for redemption after a bad shot.

In general, there are three common situations where you might consider taking a mulligan:

  1. The first tee shot: It’s not uncommon for nerves or lack of warm-up time to result in poor performance on the first swing of the day. In this case, many players will allow themselves one mulligan off the first tee as they ease into their round. Some call this a breakfast ball.
  2. An unplayable lie: If your ball lands in an area that makes it virtually impossible to continue to play – such as deep rough or under tree roots – you may opt for a mulligan instead of struggling with multiple attempts at recovery shots.
  3. A lost ball: When searching for your ball proves fruitless and leads only to frustration, taking a mulligan can help keep up the pace of play and maintain good spirits among your group members.


Bear in mind that while these scenarios are generally acceptable times to take advantage of this unofficial rule, some groups may have different opinions about what constitutes fair use.

Before starting your round, ensure everyone agrees on when and how often each player can invoke their “mully.” This way, you’ll avoid any potential disputes during gameplay and ensure all participants enjoy themselves on the golf course.

For those looking to gain more insight into the sport, our resources can offer a range of advice catered specifically for casual golfers.

Utilizing a mulligan can be advantageous in particular cases, yet it is vital to recognize when the correct time is. Now, let’s examine the advantages of opting for a mulligan.


Key Takeaway: Knowing when to take a mulligan in golf can be crucial for casual players. You might consider taking a mulligan in three common situations: the first tee shot, an unplayable lie, and a lost ball. It’s important to agree on when and how often each player can invoke their “mully” before starting your round to avoid any potential disputes during gameplay.


Benefits of Taking a Mulligan

Taking a mulligan in golf can provide several advantages for weekend golfers and those looking to improve their game. While not allowed in official tournaments, using a mulligan during casual rounds can help players gain confidence, practice difficult shots, and maintain an enjoyable atmosphere among friends.

  • Boost Confidence: Golf is more about mental strength than physical skill. You can build your self-confidence on the golf course by allowing yourself to retake a poor shot without penalty. This may lead to better performance overall.
  • Practice Makes Perfect: Sometimes, we need multiple attempts at challenging shots or situations. A mulligan allows you to try again immediately after making an error or encountering bad luck (like hitting a tree). The additional practice helps reinforce proper technique and understanding of how different factors affect your shot.
  • Maintain Enjoyment: Let’s face it – nobody likes playing poorly or watching their friends struggle through round after round of bad shots. Allowing for occasional mulligans keeps the mood light-hearted and fun while still encouraging improvement over time. It also prevents frustration from mounting when things aren’t going well on the course.


In addition to these benefits, taking advantage of mulligans can be particularly helpful for beginner golfers who are just learning the ropes. As they develop their skills and become more comfortable with various aspects of the game, they can gradually reduce their reliance on mulligans and transition to playing by official rules.

Remember that golf is meant to be an enjoyable pastime. So while it’s important to challenge yourself and strive for improvement, there’s no harm in occasionally taking a mulligan during casual play with friends or family – especially if it helps you enjoy the game more.


Key Takeaway: Taking a mulligan in golf can boost confidence, provide additional practice opportunities, and maintain an enjoyable atmosphere among friends. Although not allowed in official tournaments, using mulligans during casual rounds can be particularly helpful for beginner golfers who are just learning the ropes.


Rules for Taking a Mulligan

Rules for a Mulligan

Mutual Agreement: If you’re playing with your golf buddies, taking a mulligan should be agreed upon by all players in your group before teeing off on the first hole. It’s important that everyone understands what circumstances warrant using one and how many each player gets per round (usually one).

The First Tee Only: Many golfers follow an unwritten rule that allows for only the “opening tee shot” mulligan per golfer per round – meaning if you have a poor tee shot, you get another chance without penalty.

No Impact on Handicap: Since taking a mulligan isn’t part of official golf rules, your handicap won’t be affected by using one during a casual round. Nevertheless, it’s essential to play ethically and fairly.


Key Takeaway: Taking a mulligan in golf is an informal and friendly gesture that has become widely accepted among weekend golfers. If playing casually with friends, agree upon the circumstances warranting its use beforehand and remember that it won’t affect your handicap but should still be used sparingly.


FAQ: What is a Mulligan in Golf?

How many mulligans can I take in a round?

The number of mulligans allowed during a round of golf varies based on the agreement between you and your playing partners.

In casual or friendly rounds, it’s common for golfers to allow one mulligan per nine holes, totaling two mulligans for an 18-hole round.

However, some groups may choose to allow more or fewer mulligans or none. Discuss and agree on mulligan rules with your playing partners before the round begins to ensure fairness and enjoyment for everyone involved.


What is the origin of the term mulligan?

The exact origin of the term “mulligan” remains uncertain. Still, one popular story attributes it to David Mulligan, a Canadian golfer who took an extra tee shot after a poor first attempt during a round in the 1920s. He called it a correction shot, but the name Mulligan stuck.

His friends jokingly named the practice after him, and the term has since become widely recognized and used in the golfing community.

Another theory suggests that the term came from the Irish phrase “mullachán,” which means “a mishit” or “a mistake.”

Regardless of its origin, the term “mulligan” is now synonymous with getting a second chance or do-over in golf.


Can I take a mulligan on any shot?

While mulligans are typically taken on a poor opening tee shot, you and your playing partners can also agree on whether to allow mulligans for other shots.

Some golfers may allow a mulligan for any shot during the round, including approach shots, chips, or putts.

However, remember that frequently using mulligans on various shots can significantly alter the game’s pace and may detract from the challenge of playing golf under normal circumstances.


Are mulligans allowed in professional golf?

Mulligans are not allowed in professional golf or any official golf competitions, as they do not adhere to the official rules set by governing bodies like the United States Golf Association (USGA) and the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews (R&A).

Professional golfers are expected to play under strict rules, and mulligans would provide an unfair advantage by allowing players to retake shots without any penalty.


Can I take a mulligan in a charity golf tournament?

In some charity golf tournaments, organizers may allow participants to use mulligans as a way to raise additional funds for the chosen charity.

In these instances, players can purchase a predetermined number of mulligans, and the proceeds go directly to the charity.

This practice can add a fun and light-hearted element to the event while supporting a good cause. Just make sure to review the event’s specific rules and guidelines to determine whether mulligans are allowed and under what conditions they can be used.


What is the difference between a mulligan and a provisional ball?

A mulligan is a do-over shot taken without penalty in casual or friendly rounds, while a provisional ball is played according to the official rules of golf when there is a possibility that the original ball might be lost or out of bounds.

When playing a provisional ball, a golfer must announce their intention to do so before taking the shot.

If the original golf ball is found and deemed playable within the allowed search time (usually three minutes), the golfer can continue playing with the original ball without incurring any penalty.


Wrapping It Up – What Is a Mulligan In Golf?

Weekend golfers and those looking to improve their game may benefit from taking a mulligan, but it’s important to follow the rules.

Remember that during recreational golf, mulligans should be used sparingly and not taken advantage of with constant do overs until you hit a good shot. By following the rules and using them wisely, you can make your next round of golf more enjoyable and lower your score. Your playing partners will appreciate it too!

If you’re interested in learning more about improving your golf game or finding quality gear for your next round of mulligan golf, check out Humble Golfer today! We hope you enjoyed what is a mulligan in Golf They offer a wide range of products and resources to help you become a better golfer. And who knows, with enough practice, you may even earn a mulligan at Winged Foot!

We hope you found this article What is a Mulligan in Golf helpful. If you’re a passionate golfer like us, subscribe to our newsletter and get the latest tips, reviews, and other golf lessons and guides from Humble Golfer. Plus, you’ll be automatically signed up for our free monthly giveaway!

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Amir is a passionate weekend golfer with a love for the sport. He's always testing out new gear and exploring new courses, while also constantly learning and improving his game. As a true student of the sport, he's dedicated to sharing his knowledge and experiences with other golf enthusiasts.

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