Not sure either... but came up in Google.
Where Did "Mulligan" Originate?
By KorryFranke on 4/18/08
There you are, playing the round of your life, standing on the tee at 18 with only one hole between you and a career best score. If only you can par the final hole, that elusive score you desire will be yours! You gaze down the fairway, grab your trusty driver (which for once in your life keeps sending shot after shot exactly where you want them to go), push the tee into the turf, breath deeply, and then begin your pre-swing routine. Just before starting your swing, however, you allow one more thought into your head-avoid the water down the right side. You raise your club back and then powerfully twist your hips, driving the club down and through the ball. SMACK! The ball rockets down the fairway, at first appearing to be a nearly perfect shot, but then it starts drifting, ever so slightly, towards the water on the right! You lean with the shot hoping that somehow by leaning to the left you will have some inconceivable power to stop the ball from landing in the water. Then, just as you think your leaning really may move the ball to the safety of the rough, a huge gust of wind pushes it just a tad further to the right. You lower your head; there's simply no use in watching. PLOP! Into the water it goes. And so goes your hope of that personal best score.

Noting how dejected you seem, your friend hollers out, "That wind was ridiculous! That shouldn't count. Why don't you just take a mulligan?" Suddenly your spirit rises as if a gift from the heavens has just been granted. With one small word, your career best has another chance. You re-tee your ball and this time smack the drive right down the middle of the fairway.

Ok, in truth your friend probably was pointing and laughing at your untimely misfortune. And lets be honest, there's virtually NO chance he suggested using a mulligan either... at least my friends never would! But that doesn't mean that you couldn't turn to him and say, "I'm just gonna take my mulligan."

When it comes to taking mulligans, there are two types of golfers: those who do and those who lie! Sure, it's not a legal play, but standard golf courtesy says one mulligan per nine holes, right?? Ok, maybe not, but it's still common and we all know about it. But who the heck was Mulligan? And how did his name become synonymous with the greatest freebee shot in golf?

Like any good story, the facts about Mr. Mulligan are not exactly clear. One story claims that David Mulligan of Montreal, Canada, after driving a few friends down a terribly bumpy road on the way to their golf course, shanked his first drive. His friends agreed that since he was still jumpy from the incredibly bad road that he should be given a second shot with no penalty.

Another story claims that Mr. Mulligan overslept for one of his morning rounds. After racing to the course to catch up with his friends, he miss hit his opening drive and simply re-teed and hit again.

I think, however, that the most believable version of the story begins with Mr. Mulligan playing several rounds of golf by himself. Upon returning to the clubhouse, he would brag to his friends about how he had just shot yet another terrific round of golf. Believing that Mulligan was not being completely truthful with his scores, his friends decided to play a round with him. When they saw Mulligan re-tee a shot after launching his initial shot to the right, they asked what he was doing. Claiming simply to be playing a correction shot, his friends laughed and called his correction shot a mulligan... and the name stuck!

Regardless of how it all started, I think we all have had a few moments in our golfing lives where we're quite pleased that Mr. Mulligan blazed the way for us to have at least one "correction shot" in our bag each round... but then, who's really counting??

Email Korry your questions at

Korry Franke is a Boeing 757 and 767 pilot for Continental Airlines where he flies out of Newark, NJ to destinations across the US and around the globe. He lives in Bethlehem, PA where he spends most of his time on days off at the driving range or out on the golf course giving his game the practice it so desperately needs.

[ comments ]
H2Okie says:
Since my grandfather is a member of Essex Fells country club I'll go with this story. I heard this version on the Radio from Paul Harvey. On Monday's the club is closed to play for members however the club staff and caddies would get their chance to play. There were 2 gentlemen in particular who played the same time each Monday, they always asked Buddy, the locker room attendant, to play, he always declined. Their routine was to go hit some balls on the driving range, come back in, eat some breakfast, then return to the golf course to start their round. Each time they passed through the locker room they asked Buddy to play. He always declined saying he had too much work to do. Finally, after months, maybe years of this routine Buddy agreed to play. When the 3 arrived on the first tee, Buddy is said to have said, "since you two are already loosened up, can I take 2 off the first tee?" The agreed and that is where the term came from. Buddy's last name is of course, Mulligan.
H2Okie says:
My grandfather, Austin Helle, is 86 years old, has been a member at this club since at least 1960. He still plays it twice a week. He does say that he recalls hearing of Buddy Mulligan, however, did not say for sure that is where the term came from.
H2Okie says:
Another version of the 'mulligan' story comes from the Essex Fells CC in N.J. This story is one of the latest, and may therefore be less credible. According to this version, the term was named after a locker room attendant at the club named John A. 'Buddy' Mulligan, who worked at the club during the 1930s and was known for replaying shots, particularly on the first tee. -

GÇó West Orange resident Jonathan R. Mulligan, better known as Ron, celebrated his 90th birthday. Back in the day, he and his brother Ed referred to their cousin BuddyGÇÖs habit of re-doing the first tee-off shot of his golf game as GÇ£taking a Mulligan.GÇ¥ The term has since become part of the American lexicon and has grown into an unofficial practice among golfers worldwide. The surprise birthday party was on Feb. 3 at the Essex Fells Country Club, birthplace of GÇ£taking a Mulligan.GÇ¥ -
TaylorFade says:
My golfing buddies are stingy. We only get the obligatory "two off the first tee."
birdieXris says:
Yea the sunday guys i play with call it a "breakfast ball" hahahaha. That's mostly because they start play ridiculously early (for me anyway) and always give eachtother a breakfast ball from the first tee.
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