Hello, and welcome to my fourteenth post! This post delves into the ethics of playing golf—but not following the official rules. It’s a subject that I’ve often thought about and have a lot of material for. This post will concentrate on mulligan shots—when I take them, in which circumstances I take them, and, most importantly, why I take them.
A mulligan is a “make-up shot” one takes after a bad shot, but is not counted on the scorecard. (Interesting but unrelated: mulligan also means a stew made from odds and ends of food.) This is technically not allowed, but it is very common. When my dad and I play at Civitan, we both take a lot of mulligans. However, we only take mulligans WHEN we have made sure that we’re not holding up the pace of play. For instance, yesterday my dad and I took a lot of mulligan shots because the course was next to empty. We commented on this to the guy in the pro shop, and he pointed out that it was sweltering. We agreed. Then we played another nine holes.
Everyone takes mulligans for different reasons. Everyone has a different idea of what is sufficient cause for a mulligan, too. Some people take a mulligan shot and then play their first shot. Everyone has a different set of CIRCUMSTANCES in which it is okay to take a mulligan. An example of this my dad and I. He takes mulligans when he chunks it, and I take mulligans when my ball goes in the wrong direction or when I want to experiment with an error in my swing.
Last but most importantly is WHY I take mulligans. This probably varies so much that I’m not even going to speculate on what goes on in other peoples’ heads. Figuring out what I’m thinking is hard enough! To begin, I’m going to go back quite a few weeks ago. I was golfing with Dad. It was another day when the course was spectacularly empty. I was feeling kind of tired—not up to my normal regime of mind tricks. So when I hit a bad tee shot, I just hit another shot. I didn’t want to risk ending up in a bad mood because I felt I wasn’t golfing well, and one way to avoid that is to prove to yourself that you can hit a good shot. With an extremely generous helping of mulligans, I managed to get a final score of thirty-six, which is quite good for me. So, in some situations I take mulligans to maintain a positive attitude towards golf. Another situation is what happened yesterday. I have been working on changing my swing and have been making slow and patchy progress. Yesterday, I hit the ball correctly about half the time and incorrectly the other half. I hit mulligans to practice and build my confidence in my new swing.
I was unsure whether or not mulligans were ever acceptable until an instance earlier this summer when I finally flat out asked my coach in which situations mulligans were okay. He told me what I already believed: It’s perfectly fine to take mulligans when you’re practicing as long as it doesn’t interfere with anyone else’s game. Don’t you love it when it turns out you had the answer all along?