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History of the “Mulligan”

Taking a Mulligan at Essex Fells Country Club is Par for the Course

A look down the fairway at Essex Fells Country Club’s famed Hole #1 where the “Mulligan” was born!

A look down the fairway at Essex Fells Country Club’s famed Hole #1 where the “Mulligan” was born!

Chances are that if you’re a golfer, you’ve taken a Mulligan or two as “do-overs” for errant shots during rounds with friends.  It’s a gift of mercy golfers around the globe grant their pals to ease the pain the game often brings to lesser skilled hackers in in the spirit of competitive fun.  Perhaps the most amazing thing about the Mulligan is not the worldwide practice of the compassionate gesture – but its birthplace. It seems the practice of awarding a “mulligan” originated on the first hole of play at Essex Fells Country Club – the host site for the 30th Annual Caldwell University Golf Outing.

The short version of the historic tale goes like this:

John A. “Buddy” Mulligan, a locker room attendant in the 1930s at Essex Fells Country Club would finish cleaning the locker room and, if no other members appeared, play a round with assistant professional, Dave O’Connell and a club member, Des Sullivan (later golf editor of The Newark Evening News).

One day, Mulligan’s opening tee shot was bad and he beseeched O’Connell and Sullivan to allow another shot since they “had been practicing all morning,” and he had not. After the round, Mulligan proudly exclaimed to the members in his locker room for months how he received an extra shot.

The members loved it and soon began giving themselves “Mulligans” in honor of Buddy Mulligan. Sullivan began using the term in his golf pieces in The Newark Evening News. NBC’s “Today Show” ran the story in 2005.  Soon the “Mulligan” found its way into golf culture around the world.

So next time you shank that drive and ask for a second shot, you can astonish your friends with the factoid that it was born at Essex Fells Country Club.  Maybe they’ll give you an extra few to help slim your score!

Read the full story here: “How the Mulligan Came to Be”

Watch the Golf Channel’s report: “Golf Detective Investigates the Mulligan”