Are Mulligans Allowed in Golf? A Comprehensive Guide 101

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are mulligans allowed in golf

Have you ever wondered are mulligans allowed in golf? Mulligans are not officially allowed in golf, but they are a common and accepted practice in casual play when used properly.

A mulligan in golf allows a player to re-hit their tee shot without penalty if they hit a poor first shot. It’s essentially a “do-over” that gives golfers a second chance after hitting a bad tee shot. Mulligans help speed up pace of play and allow for more fun, relaxed rounds among amateur golfers. However they are not permitted under strict United States Golf Association (USGA) rules that govern professional tournament play.

If you’re looking for a comprehensive guide to golf etiquette, “Golf Etiquette For Dummies” is an excellent resource. This article provides clear explanations and practical tips to help you understand the unwritten rules that govern the game, making it a must-read for beginners and seasoned players alike.

Key Takeaways and Mulligan Rules

  • Mulligans are unofficial “do-over” shots, most commonly used on tee shots in casual golf
  • They are not allowed under the official rules of golf and are considered cheating in tournaments
  • Mulligans should be used sparingly and with the agreement of all playing partners
  • Overusing mulligans can negatively impact skill development and the integrity of the game
  • Proper mulligan etiquette involves clear communication and respect for playing partners
  • The future of mulligans in golf may be influenced by changing attitudes and technology

Understanding Mulligans

A mulligan is a “do-over” shot in golf, typically used after a poor tee shot. The term likely originated from a Canadian golfer named David Mulligan in the 1920s. Mulligans are most commonly used on the first tee shot of the day, often called a “breakfast ball.”

The purpose of mulligans in casual golf is to speed up play and reduce frustration. They give golfers a second chance to hit a good shot without the penalty of adding strokes to their score.

Mulligans and the Official Rules of Golf

It’s important to note that mulligans are not recognized or permitted under the official rules of golf. In tournaments or competitions, using a mulligan would be considered cheating and could result in disqualification.

If you’re trying to maintain a handicap, using mulligans in casual rounds can also affect the accuracy of your score. It’s best to play by the rules and count every shot, even in friendly games.

When and How to Use Mulligans

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Before teeing off, establish the mulligan rules with your playing partners. Decide how many mulligans each player gets and on which holes they can be used. A common variation is allowing one mulligan per nine holes, only on tee shots.

ScenarioAppropriate for Mulligan?
First tee shot of the dayYes
After a distraction during swingYes
Approach shot to the greenNo
Putt on the greenNo

Mulligans are most appropriate on the first tee shot of the day or after a distraction, like a loud noise during your swing. Some charity events and fundraisers even sell mulligans to raise money for a good cause.

Mulligan Etiquette

Clear communication is key when it comes to mulligans. Make sure everyone in your group agrees on the rules before the round begins. If you’re playing with strangers or in a more serious game, it’s best to avoid mulligans altogether.

Remember, the goal is to balance the use of mulligans with maintaining a fair and enjoyable game for everyone. If there’s a disagreement about a mulligan, try to resolve it calmly and respectfully.

Mulligans and Golf Strategy

While mulligans can be tempting, relying on them too often can hurt your mental game and slow down your skill development. Instead of taking a mulligan every time you hit a bad shot, try to focus on course management and practice.

Even professional golfers have benefited and suffered from mulligans. In a famous example, pro golfer Tommy Armour was once penalized for using a mulligan during a tournament in the 1920s, costing him the victory.

The Future of Mulligans in Golf

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As golf evolves, attitudes towards mulligans may change. Some golfers argue that mulligans make the game more accessible and enjoyable for beginners, while others believe they go against the spirit of the sport.

In the future, we may see changes to mulligan rules or etiquette. Technology could also play a role in tracking and regulating the use of mulligans on the course.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can I use a mulligan in a tournament?
    No, mulligans are not allowed in official tournaments or competitions. Using a mulligan in these situations would be considered cheating.
  2. How many mulligans should I take in a casual round?
    The number of mulligans allowed should be agreed upon by all players before the round begins. A common rule is to allow one mulligan per nine holes, but this can vary depending on the group’s preferences.


While Mulligans are a handy tool to have, there are exceptions to when you can use them. For instance, they are only permitted to be carried out on tee shots, and how many are allowed will always depend on the group consensus.

If all the players agree, a few Mulligans may be allowed if there has been more than one bad shot or lost ball.
  1. Do I have to tell my playing partners when I take a mulligan?
    Yes, it’s important to be transparent about taking a mulligan. Let your playing partners know before you hit your second shot to avoid any confusion or disagreements.
  2. Can mulligans be used on any shot, or just tee shots?
    Mulligans are most commonly used on tee shots, especially the first shot of the day. However, some groups may allow mulligans on other shots, such as approach shots or putts. Make sure to establish the rules with your playing partners before the round.

Conclusion To Are Mulligans Allowed in Golf

Mulligans are a controversial but common part of casual golf. While they aren’t allowed under the official rules, they can help make the game more fun and less frustrating for amateur golfers.

The key is to use mulligans sparingly and respectfully, always communicating with your playing partners. By finding the right balance, you can enjoy the benefits of mulligans without compromising the integrity of the game.

So the next time you’re on the first tee and hit a bad shot, remember: a mulligan might be okay, but it’s not a magic solution. Focus on improving your skills, and most importantly, have fun out there!


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