A mulligan is a second chance, a second ball played from the spot of an original ball that has gone astray. They’re frequently taken on the tee – particularly the first tee, but they might be used anywhere your partners allow them. They violate the Rules of Golf. Whether the ball used for a mulligan must be used to continue play is always a subject for debate.
Where did the term originate?
The origins of the term mulligan are lost in antiquity – shrouded in the mists of time. The players at every famous golf course in the world claim they used to have a member named Mulligan (or some variant of the name, like Mel Egan or somesuch) who would avail himself of a second ball whenever he thought a good excuse warranted it.
One of our favorite legends is that when a group all hit poor tee shots, they would declare they would “hit ’em all again” in the spirit of fair play.
What’s a handicap?
A handicap is a number that represents your skill as a golfer. Good players have low handicaps. Bad players (uh… less skilled players) have high handicaps. When a good player plays a match against a bad player, the good player must give (spot) the bad player strokes based on the difference between their handicaps. In medal (stroke) play competition using handicaps, a player’s net score is their gross or total score less their handicap.
How do I get a handicap?
If you belong to a golf club or association of golfers, you club can compute a handicap for you. The USGA (United States Golf Association), Golf Canada, Golf Australia and other organizations have published handicap systems for use by members of their authorized clubs. Most also have programs for you to form your own club or association which could compute your handicap.
If you don’t belong to a golf club, you can compute a handicap however you wish, but you won’t be able to use it in official competitions. There are lots of different types of handicaps. Mulligan’s Eagle™ knows how to calculate handicaps.
What’s a Course Rating?
A Course Rating is a mark of the USGA representing a number which describes the difficulty of a golf course from a particular set of tees for a scratch (expert) player. Course Ratings are established by an evaluation of the course by members of a committee, usually from your regional golf association. Course Ratings are numbers like 68.5, 71.2, etc. In some jurisdictions, course ratings might be called something else, and they may be expressed to a tenth or as whole numbers.
What’s a Slope Rating?
A Slope Rating is a mark of the USGA representing an integer number which describes the difficulty of a golf course from a particular set of tees for a bogey (average) golfer. Slope Ratings vary from 55 (very easy) to 155 (very difficult). The Slope Rating of a course that has not officially been rated is 113, the Slope Rating of a course of average difficulty.
What’s a Slope Chart?
A Slope Chart (officially called a Course Handicap Table) is a table of USGA Handicap Indexes and the equivalent Course Handicaps computed for a particular set of tees. Your golf club should have a published chart for men and women for each set of tees. You use a Slope Chart to determine what handicap you’ll use, based on your Handicap Index, when you play.
You can use The Scoring Machine, our iPhone, iPad or iPod touch mobile scoring app, which has its own Slope Chart feature. Or, on your desktop or portable Mac, Mulligan’s Eagle also has a Slope Chart feature. Both applications can print the charts you need!
What’s a Handicap Index?
Handicap Index® is the trademark of the USGA for a number that represents your skill as a golfer, used to determine your playing handicap on different golf courses. A Handicap Index, when used with a Slope Chart for the course you are going to play, will determine the Course Handicap you use for that round. You may get a higher playing handicap on more difficult courses, a lower one on easy courses.
A Handicap Index is a number, precise to one decimal place. A Handicap Index is NOT a playing handicap – it’s used to compute one.
What’s a Course Handicap?
A Course Handicap is the handicap you play with – the number of strokes you’ll deduct from your score to determine your net score. Your Course Handicap is computed from your Handicap Index and the Slope Rating of the tees you play. The formula:
(Handicap Index x Slope Rating) / 113, rounded
What’s my Adjusted Gross Score?
Your Adjusted Gross Score is your gross score, adjusted for ESC (Equitable Stroke Control), which limits your individual hole scores for unusually high scores, based on your playing handicap. Adjusted Gross Scores are only used to compute handicaps.
Can someone have a negative handicap?
Yes, they can, except it’s called a plus handicap – the number of strokes a player has to add to their gross score to compute their net score. Golfers with plus handicaps are expert players – capable of shooting below par or the Course Rating.
Isn’t this just ’way too complicated?
Yes it is. Almost nobody computes their own handicap – or can verify that their handicap is being computed correctly, considering the determination of Course Handicaps, Equitable Stroke Control, tournament round adjustments, adjustments for tees played and mixed play from the same tees. Unless, of course, you have software that will do these calculations for you!
What are hole handicaps?
Also called handicap stroke allocations, a scorecard identifies hole handicaps (numbers from 1 through 18 on an 18-hole course) to designate where strokes should be given in a match between two players with different handicaps. The hole marked “1” is determined to be the hole on which there is the maximum likelihood that a player would score worse than their lower-handicapped opponent. The No. 1 handicap hole is not necessarily the most difficult hole.
For example, if the difference between the playing handicaps of two players is 5 strokes, the higher handicapped player receives those strokes on the holes with handicap numbers 1 through 5.
What about hole-by-hole medal play?
In stroke play, a player get his strokes where his handicap falls… a player with a 10 handicap get strokes on hole with handicap numbers 1 through 10. A player whose handicap exceeds 18 gets a stroke on every hole and 2 strokes on those holes whose handicap reflects the number of strokes by which the handicap exceeds 18.
A player with a plus handicap adds strokes beginning with the hole handicapped 18, backward for each plus handicap stroke.
How are strokes given when hole handicaps are 1 to 9?
When playing an 18-hole match on a 9-hole coarse or a course where the hole handicaps are given as 1 through 9 for each nine, the first handicap stroke is given at the no. 1 handicap hole on the front nine, the next at the no. 1 handicap hole on the back nine, then the no. 2 handicap hole on the front nine, etc.
You may notice in the United States that handicap holes are typically arranged such that the odd handicap holes are on the front nine, even handicap holes on the back nine. This allows a balanced allocation of strokes for an 18-hole match, a convenient way of allocating strokes in a 9-hole match, and a fair way to allocate strokes for a match that requires extra holes.
Who’s Al Czervik?
Al is a member of Bushwood Country Club, where he plays golf with Ty Webb, Judge Elihu Smails and Doctor Beeper. They made a movie about Al and his friends called Caddyshack.