NCG’s Word of the Week: Mulligan

News & Tour

Our handy weekly feature lets you talk the talk, even if you can't walk the walk

Word: Mulligan

Pronunciation:/mully-gan/

What I think it means: There’s been a couple of times when I’ve really duffed a tee shot. And I mean duffed. 

Like I’ve topped the ball, which has made a divot right in front of the tee and then spun off into the deep rough to the left of the tee box. In an unlooked-for gesture of generosity, my playing partners have said ‘take a mulligan’ and encouraged me to just try again.

What a great bunch of guys they are.

This allows me to take another tee shot and play the hole as normal, as though that unfortunate incident never happened.

I’m guessing a comparable sporting reference would be faulting your serve at tennis.

Dictionary definition: (In informal golf) an extra stroke allowed after a poor shot, not counted on the scorecard.

What this actually means: Your playing partners have just spent 20 minutes looking for the last ball you hooked into the rough and they want a rest. The group behind are catching up, so just hit another and we’ll forget this ever happened.

Basically, if your playing partners have offered you a mulligan, it isn’t because they think you’re any good. It’s a pity gesture, and as such should be stubbornly refused at all costs.

Origins: There are multiple theories about the origins of the word, although what seems certain is that it was the surname of a rather unscrupulous golfer. This man, who may have been a Canadian businessman or a New Jersey native nicknamed ‘Buddy’, had a habit of giving himself a second chance at a shot, if he felt he could do better.

Use in a sentence: “Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us. Take a mulligan or we’ll be here all day”
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