How Many Mulligans are Allowed in Golf

How Many Mulligans are Allowed in Golf: Ultimate Guide

Golf, a sport renowned for its precision and etiquette, features a captivating practice that intrigues beginners and seasoned players alike – the enigmatic “mulligan.” In this in-depth guide, we plunge into the intricacies of this phenomenon, unraveling its historical origins, dissecting the ongoing debate about its impact on the game, uncovering the unwritten rules that govern its usage, exploring the controversies it engenders, and presenting alternative approaches for golfers. 

As we embark on this comprehensive journey, we remain focused on the central question: “How many mulligans are allowed in golf?” We aim to provide a complete understanding of mulligans, shedding light on their role in the sport and empowering golfers to navigate this unique aspect of golf with knowledge and insight.

How Many Mulligans are Allowed in Golf?

In a standard round of golf, a player is allowed one mulligan, which is often informally referred to as a “do-over” or a “second chance” to retake a shot without counting the previous one. However, mulligans are not allowed in official golf competitions or tournaments, as they are considered a breach of the rules.

Golf rules form the bedrock of fair play. However, there needs to be a clear-cut answer regarding mulligans. Golf’s official rules, as set by the United States Golf Association (USGA) and the Royal & Ancient (R&A), don’t explicitly allow mulligans. Instead, they adhere to “play the ball as it lies.” Thus, mulligans are generally considered against the official rules of the game.

The Origins of the Mulligans

The term “mulligan” finds its roots in the early 20th century, when it was first coined during a round of golf involving a player named David Mulligan. As the legend goes, Mulligan mishit his tee shot and decided to replay the stroke due to a lack of preparation. This informal practice eventually gained traction, leading to its widespread recognition as a do-over in golf. 

The Tournament Conundrum

While mulligans might be frowned upon in official competitions, they often appear in casual rounds or charity events. Some tournaments even embrace the concept by incorporating “mulligan packages” into their fundraising strategies, allowing players to purchase extra shots to support a charitable cause. This has sparked debates about whether mulligans have a place in serious golf events.

Etiquette and Unwritten Rules

Golf etiquette plays a pivotal role in maintaining the integrity of the sport. Despite the lack of official mulligan rules, golfers adhere to unwritten rules. Taking multiple mulligans during a round can raise eyebrows, as it goes against the spirit of fair play and camaraderie that defines the game.

The Mulligan Debate: Pros and Cons

The Mulligan debate is a polarizing topic among golf enthusiasts. Advocates argue that mulligans promote a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere, attracting new players and making the sport more accessible. On the flip side, critics contend that mulligans undermine the essence of golf, diluting its competitive nature and diminishing the sense of achievement derived from skilful shots.

Mulligans Across the Globe

Interestingly, mulligans are only sometimes recognized or accepted. Different golf cultures around the world have their perspectives on the practice. In some countries, mulligans are embraced to foster a friendly atmosphere, while in others, the notion is met with skepticism and resistance.

Alternatives to the Traditional Mulligan

Alternatives have emerged for those seeking a compromise between the allure of a mulligan and the adherence to golf’s core values. One such alternative is the “breakfast ball,” where players agree to allow a redo for the first tee shot. This preserves the fun element while maintaining a level of integrity.

Navigating the Gray Area

The grey area surrounding mulligans often prompts golfers to establish their own guidelines. Some agree to a single mulligan per round, while others set limits based on course difficulty or personal skill level. These self-imposed restrictions aim to balance enjoyment and adherence to golf’s fundamental principles.

Mulligans: A Personal Choice

Ultimately, choosing to allow mulligans in your golf game boils down to personal choice and the context in which you’re playing. Whether you view them as a way to embrace the social aspect of the sport or as a potential hindrance to skill development, mulligans remain a topic of discussion that’s as diverse as the golfing community itself.


As the final putt drops, it’s clear that the question “How many mulligans are allowed in golf?” doesn’t have a definitive answer. The beauty of golf lies in its ability to adapt and accommodate a wide range of preferences. Whether you’re a mulligan enthusiast or a purist who believes in playing every shot as it lies, what matters most is the joy, challenge, and camaraderie that the game brings.


Is there a limit to mulligans in golf?

Generally, there is no strict limit to the number of mulligans you can take in a casual round of golf. However, it’s important to consider golf etiquette and not excessively disrupt the pace of play for others on the course. In formal tournaments or competitions, mulligans are typically not allowed or are subject to specific rules set by the event organizers.

How many mulligans are acceptable?

The acceptability of mulligans varies from one round to another. In casual play among friends, players might agree on the number of mulligans allowed before the round begins. It’s essential to establish this beforehand to ensure a fair and enjoyable game. In formal or competitive settings, mulligans are often not permitted.

Does a hole in one count on a mulligan?

No, a hole-in-one achieved with a mulligan does not officially count as a true hole-in-one in golf. A hole-in-one is traditionally recognized when a player completes a hole in a single stroke, without any mulligans or additional shots.

Does a mulligan count as a stroke?

Yes, a mulligan typically counts as an additional stroke when used. If you take a mulligan, it adds one more stroke to your score for that hole. Keep in mind that the main purpose of a mulligan is to provide another chance to hit a better shot, but it comes at the cost of an extra stroke on the scorecard.

Can you go over 10 strokes in golf?

Yes, you can go over 10 strokes in golf. There is no maximum stroke limit on a hole in golf. However, if you’re playing in a formal competition, there may be a limit to the number of strokes you can take on a hole, often referred to as the “equitable stroke control” (ESC) limit. This limit is used to maintain pace of play and prevent excessively high scores. It varies based on your handicap or skill level, but it typically ranges from double bogey to a fixed number of strokes over par for the hole. In casual play, there is no strict limit, and you can continue to play until you complete the hole. 

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