What’s a Mulligan?

Print anything with Printful

The term “mulligan” refers to redoing something after doing it wrong the first time, with the second effort replacing the first. It originated in golf but is now used in various contexts. Mulligans are not allowed in official golf games but are often used during informal rounds. They are most often allowed on tee shots and sometimes a certain number is allowed per round. Mulligans can also be purchased in fundraisers. The origin of the term is undetermined, but theories involve golf and a golfer with the surname Mulligan.

The term “mulligan” is used to refer to doing something new after doing it wrong the first time, with the second effort replacing the first. Many people would call it a “makeover.” The term “mulligan” is believed to have originated in golf, but its use has spread to many contexts, such as business, politics, and other fields. In golf, mulligans are not allowed by the official rules of the game, but are often used during informal rounds. The informal rules regarding mulligans can vary widely and are generally those agreed upon by golfers.

Common rules
Mulligans are most often allowed on tee shots, which are the first shots taken on holes. They could also be permitted on any shot between the tee and the green. However, mulligans are almost never allowed on putts.

For many golfers, the only time a mulligan is allowed is on the first shot of a casual round of golf. The general idea is that no golfer wants to start a round with a poor tee shot, so if the first shot goes wrong, another is allowed. According to these rules, if the second attempt is also negative, it must be counted.

In other cases, a certain number of mulligans are allowed, usually one, two or three, per round of 18 holes. Sometimes, a specific number, usually one or two, is allowed during the first nine holes and the same number is allowed during the back nine holes. If any number of golfers play as a team, a certain number of mulligans may be allowed per team or per player.

Buying mulligans in fundraisers
Some golf tournaments that function as fundraisers allow golfers to purchase mulligans to use during their rounds. There is often no limit to the number of mulligans that can be purchased, because each additional one raises more money for the cause. Some tournaments may sell different types of mulligans, such as those that can be used only on tees, only between the tee and the green, or even only on putts.

Other contexts
Mulligans have become commonly referred to in many contexts where someone might be given a second chance or a “do-over”. Any employee who fails to complete a task correctly, for example, could receive a mulligan and can try to do it again. This could be especially true if there was a good reason why the task didn’t complete successfully the first time around. Some games, such as board games or card games, include mulligans in their official rules. Other contexts where this term might be used include relationships, health, music, and sports other than golf.

The origin of this term is undetermined, although there are many theories as to how it started. Most of these theories involve golf and usually include a golfer whose surname was Mulligan, although various theories point to different people having this surname. The term is known to have been in use in the late 1940s, and one theory suggests it may be as old as the early 1800s. In this particular theory, a golfer who had the surname of Mulligan claimed that a round would not it should be considered started until the golfer has hit a satisfactory tee shot on the first hole.
A different story is that another golfer whose last name was Mulligan hit a bad shot off the tee, then hit his ball back and hit another. His fellow players began calling it “taking a mulligan.” Another story is that this type of shot was named after a golfer known for secretly repeating poor shots as a way to cheat. There is also a theory that the term was first used by wealthy American country club members as an ethnic slur against golfers who were Irish immigrants and were considered inferior golfers.

At least one theory suggests that the origin of this term was not golf related at all. This theory states that a mulligan was a bottle of liquor that was placed on a saloon bar for customers to drink for free. Thus, anything that was free – or without penalty – was called a mulligan.

Protect your devices with Threat Protection by NordVPN

Skip to content