What if you could have a do over? A second chance at something that didn’t quite go the way you wanted, or expected, it to go the first time. Wouldn’t that be great! Maybe Custer would not have made that charge at the Little Big Horn. Perhaps Nixon would re-think the Watergate break-in. Could be Eve wouldn’t be tempted to eat that apple. Only if it could be.
Well, apparently, at times, do-overs are allowed in golf and that’s where the Mulligan comes into play. There are three claims to the first Mulligan. No one is sure which one is the correct one, or even if any of these three are where it actually started but they seem as logical a choice as any.
The first is associated with one Thomas Mulligan, a Anglo-Irish minor aristocrat, in 1793. According to author Henry Beard, Mulligan was an avid golfer even in the late 1700’s but perhaps not all that good. His status gave him the ability to win favors such as starting his golf shot over if it wasn’t to his liking.
Another offer comes from a David Mulligan, once the manager of the Waldorf Astoria in New York City who was also an avid golfer in the 1920’s.
The third comes to us out of the 1930’s with John A. “Buddy” Mulligan who was a locker room attendant at Essex C.C., N.J..
Although we may not know who coined the term exactly, there appears to be little doubt that the Mulligan came to us from golf, and maybe it only works in golf. It would really be nice if we could have a second chance at things maybe more important in life, but that’s not the way it works. With golf, which seems to be filled with people who cheat on the score card and drive a cart to the club house, the Mulligan seems to fit in. It seems to be very close to the sport of fishing (maybe that’s why there are so many water hazards on a golf course)!
How to celebrate – If someone asks you for a Mulligan, give them a shot! You can ask a police officer for a Mulligan if you get caught doing something wrong while driving. If they are a good sport, or a golfer, maybe they’ll give it to you. Start playing golf, even if it’s just putt-putt.