Are mulligans an essential part of a golf?

Typically golfers fall on one side or the other around the debate of whether mulligans are an acceptable inclusion in a golf game. These views are often very closely aligned to whether you typically need them in your round. To put my cards on the table, I love a good mulligan… because I need a good mulligan now and then.

I have, however, accepted that there are times and places for mulligans to come into play. When you have run from the carpark to the first tee, a very early round is a good example…

One time when I absolutely believe a mulligan is essential to have up your sleeve is when you are lucky enough to embark on a bucket list golf trip or round at a special course.

If you are a golf fan of any note, you will know the thrill and excitement of finally arriving at the first tee of a round you have been dreaming of for months or maybe years. You will also know the absolute pain of putting your first ball directly into an out of bounds only to feel like your round is over before it’s begun.

This is the perfect time for a mulligan!

I can hear golf purists questioning how once you take a mulligan, you can hand on heart record a legal score… and to you, I say, I don’t care.

If you are lucky enough to play a course or hole, you have dreamt about for a long time and hit a terrible shot, hit another. You may never get back to this course, and life is too short not to give yourself a chance at redemption. In 10 years, I promise you will not remember what a mulligan was and what wasn’t.

So with that being said, if you are planning on making mulligans part of your golf adventure, here is a guide for how best to bring them into play.

  • Make the rules clear – Don’t start the debate on mulligans after you have hit your first tee shot out of bounds – that’s a bad time to bring up this question. But equally, if you are the playing partner of a friend that has just committed this unfortunate crime against golf this is when you should immediately make an offer of a mulligan. Chances are you will have just brought yourself a break later in the round when doing this, Other rules you may want to clarify include whether you need to mark potential mulligan putts and whether a mulligan must be dropped or placed.
  • Don’t take advantage of a good thing – Typically myself and my buddies are a fan of 1 mulligan a round or on a very special course 1 mulligan per nine. That’s plenty. The idea is to give yourself one ‘get out of jail free’ card, but not slow down the whole field.
  • Embrace the tactics of a mulligan – If you can get on board with mulligans I assure you that after a while you will actually love the debate of how best to use them in a round. Do you put your mulligan in play as soon as your need it, or save it for a tactical moment? Some of my best post match memories stem from debating whether a mulligan was used in the best possible moment. Best of all, having a mulligan up your sleeve will encourage you to play more risky and memorable shots and after all, it’s these shots that will stick in your memory for years to come.
  • Add a charity or punishment angle – If you are dealing with some sticklers the won’t budge on their support of mulligans why not suggest a charity or punishment angle. You can take a mulligan per 9 but you have to either donate some cash to given charity or perhaps cost yourself a fine or punishment later on in the evening… Tequilla shot anyone?
  • Don’t be ‘that guy/girl’ – Mulligans, if used right, can add a lot of fun to your golf day but there are some good karma rules to be aware of. Pulling one out when you have others waiting for you is often not a good place to start. Talking trash to a buddy you have just beaten with a mulligan also is not good form… enjoy your win quietly. Lastly, make sure if you happen to part of a wider tournament of field event at the course you are lucky enough to be playing you don’t give yourself an unfair advantage against your fellow competitors.

In summary, anything that makes your golf round more enjoyable and pre-agreed as allowable for that particular event is a great rule to consider.

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