"While We're Young!", Blue Hills CC, MO
A Mulligan in golf or a Gimmie putt is never allowed under the rules, but has become somewhat commonplace for the friendly, social game and recreational golfers that play less for trophies or money and more for the enjoyment of the golfing experience. Both of these practices can also speed up the game and allow the group waiting behind you to keep playing at a reasonable pace. Or as Arnold would say, “While we’re young!” However, if either of these concepts involve an official competition or a “money shot” such as playing skins, then they’re not allowed.
A Gimmie putt is generally agreed upon and given by other players in the group if it is inside the leather of a standard putter grip and the hole. A Mulligan is simply a second chance or “do-over” and the first errant shot is forgotten and now out of play. So, if your Mulligan turns out to be in even worse trouble, tough luck! If you go ahead and putt a Gimmie that has been conceded and you miss, you must also count the missed putt. You do not have to pick up a Gimmie, but the whole point is to move along off the green.
Most Mulligans are given off the first tee, especially when golfers have rushed to make an early tee time or have not played for some time. If the shot is winged into the woods or a lake, a second shot in play can keep the game moving, as long as the golfer doesn’t spend extra time searching for the first ball. However, in more recent times, golfers running a charity tournament have quickly found that they can easily raise extra money by selling limited mulligans to team members to be used for any errant shot during play. That practice seems to have given rise to some groups allowing Mulligans off the front and back nines for tee and fairway shots, but not putts. Purists say “golf isn’t a matter of life or death. It’s much more than that.” They lose sight of the reality that it’s a just game. Games are played with an agreed upon set of rules.
Nobody is quite sure when and where the term Mulligan originated, but it must have preceded 1949 when it made its way into P. Cummings’ Dictionary of Sports. Most agree it may have started with an Irish golfer named Mulligan or even a bartender taking a freebie shot. Somehow the term just meandered into the sport, quite probably because the practice is such an equal opportunity for everyone in the group. If you don’t use a Mulligan in a round, you’ve probably had a very good day! Besides, golf is a career to the professionals who play a very difficult game at another level. But it’s a game and needs to be somewhat fun to the poor slob that is attempting to escape from the everyday world and simply enjoy life for a few hours. And the universal second chance for just about everyone will always lift your spirits and give you renewed hope for redemption on the next shot!