June 7, 2018 - 11:17am
Posted by:
Bob Denney
mark.aumann's picture
Taking a mulligan
Mike Benzie/PGA.com
MULLIGAN HERE? A golfer with an unfortunate first-tee shot at an Atlanta area charity tournament.

By Bob Denney, PGA of America

It is arguably one of the few sports terms believed to be named after a person, and with ramifications beyond the border of a course and into politics and daily life.

You don’t have to be a golfer to enjoy the benefits of a Mulligan – the term is now widely used to describe any “do-over,” or second chance after initial failure.

Of course, the rules of golf forbid the Mulligan, though it’s become part of the game. Some golfers apply their own “rules” that the Mulligan will be in “play” once per round, or just on the No. 1 tee.

READ: Your unwritten rules of golf | The story behind the highest score in PGA Tour history

So, where and when did the Mulligan begin in golf? Well, that depends.

The USGA, and supported by research by GriffGolf.com, found the Mulligan became rooted in the game’s lexicon sometime between the late 1920s and mid-1930s. During that period, Canadian-born amateur David Bernard Mulligan had established himself as a prominent member of clubs that included Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, N.Y.

In the late 1920s, Mulligan had a regular club foursome, which he often drove to the course in a 1920s vintage Briscoe, a touring car.

Once on the first tee, the story goes, his partners allowed him to hit a second ball after mishitting his drive. Mulligan complained that his hands were still numb after driving rough roads and a bumpy Queen Victoria Jubilee Bridge (now Victoria Bridge).

Mulligan joined Winged Foot Golf Club sometime between 1932 and 1933. A generation later, in July 1985, journalist Don Mackintosh interviewed Mulligan for a column, “Around the Sport Circuit.”

READ: Why a Tour player intentionally 3-putted to avoid a course record

Said Mulligan: “I was so provoked with myself that, on impulse, I stooped over and put down another ball. The other three looked at me with considerable puzzlement, and one of them asked, ‘What are you doing?’ ‘I’m taking a correction shot,’ I replied.”

His playing partner asked what he called that.

“Thinking fast, I told him that I called it a ‘Mulligan.’ They laughed and let me play a second ball. After the match, which Mulligan and Spindler won by one point, there was considerable discussion in the clubhouse about that free shot.

“It all worked out amicably enough, but after that it became an unwritten rule in our foursome that you could take an extra shot on the first tee if you weren’t satisfied with your original. Naturally, this was always referred to as ‘taking a Mulligan.’ From that beginning, I guess the practice spread, and the name with it.”

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Such a tale appears to be on solid footing, though USGA research hints there’s wiggle room for another “Mulligan.”

John A. “Buddy” Mulligan, a locker room attendant in the 1930s at Essex Fells CC, N.J., would finish cleaning the locker room and, if no other members appeared, play a round with assistant professional, Dave O'Connell and a club member, Des Sullivan (later golf editor of The Newark Evening News).

One day, Mulligan’s opening tee shot was bad and he beseeched O'Connell and Sullivan to allow another shot since they “had been practicing all morning,” and he had not. After the round, Mulligan proudly exclaimed to the members in his locker room for months how he received an extra shot.

The members loved it and soon began giving themselves “Mulligans” in honor of Buddy Mulligan. Sullivan began using the term in his golf pieces in The Newark Evening News. NBC’s “Today Show” ran the story in 2005.

Thus, a “Mulligan” found its niche along in our culture. Its popularity thrives because of who we are – lovers of a good story and a term that somehow fits. It thrives as we are reminded in a classic line from the 1962 John Ford Western film, “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.”

“This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”

How the 'Mulligan' got its name
Pebble Beach
The only thing better than viewing Pebble Beach's webcam of the famous 18th hole is playing it in person.

Unfortunately, there are things that keep you away from the golf course. Your job, the weather, other obligations -- just to name a few. But even if you can't get out and play, you can keep tabs on what's happening at some of the most famous courses around the world.

Thanks to the Internet and invention of the webcam, many courses have live linksavailable at the click of a mouse, including St. Andrews and Pebble Beach. Here's just a sampling of what's out there -- and what you might see.

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Click the headlines or photos to see the webcam for yourself:

St. Andrews Links, Scotland

The ancestral home of golf may be more than 500 years old, but its website is state-of-the-art, boasting nine different views of the grounds, including the Road Hole and Swilcan Bridge.

Royal North Devon Golf Club

Royal North Devon Golf Club was founded in 1864 and is the oldest golf course in England. The course was designed by Old Tom Morris.

Real Club de Golf Campoamor, Orihuela, Valencia, Spain

According to the Spanish translation, the course was opened in 1988. It emerged from the natural beauty of the area between two valleys and surrounded by small hills, which protects it from the wind.

Royal Westmoreland, Barbados

Located on the west side of Barbados, Royal Westmoreland was designed by Robert Trent Jones Junior and claims to be consistently rated as one of the top courses in the Caribbean.

Chester Golf Club, Nova Scotia

Nothing beats the fabulous view from the clubhouse of the course and the lake.

Pebble Beach Golf Links

In addition to the iconic 18th fairway shot, Pebble Beach offers a number of webcams. Watch foursomes line up to tee off at the first hole, or check out the 17th green, where Tom Watson made U.S. Open magic many years ago.

Bandon Dunes Golf Course

Oregon's golf mecca includes the first course opened there in 1999. Bandon Dunes was designed by Scotsman David McLay Kidd.

Bandon Trails Golf Course

Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw designed this course, which opened in 2005. It's different from the others in the resort, in that no holes parallel the ocean.

Pacific Dunes Golf Course

Opened in the summer of 2001, Tom Doak's design is considered the favorite course of the majority of golfers who have played all four tracks.

Poipu Bay Golf Course

Another stunner from Robert Trent Jones Junior, this course hosted the PGA Grand Slam of Golf between 1994 and 2006.

Ko Olina Golf Club

Built in 1990 by Ted Robinson, Ko Olina has been rated as Oahu's No. 1 course by Hawaii Magazine and the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. It also plays host to the LPGA's Lotte Championship.

Big Sky Resort, Montana

The resort southwest of Bozeman, which boasts as being "the basecamp to Yellowstone" has a classic links-style course.

Jefferson Landing Golf Club, North Carolina

Located near Boone and Blowing Rock in the western part of the state, Jefferson Landing was designed by Larry Nelson. The views are spectacular, especially in the spring and fall.

Blackmoor Golf Club, South Carolina

Gary Player designed this course near Murrell's Inlet, with lots of doglegs and lots of water.

There are more available, especially in golf and ski resort areas in the western half of the country. And more courses are in the process of adding webcams, so keep searching to find course webcams near you.

A guide to golf course webcams around the world