The Unimportance of Being Mulligan


This maladroit molar mechanic became so depressed over his poor play, he threatened to resign from the club and take up bowling, probably because the ball was larger.

Frantic to avoid a dues assessment, the club members conspired with the pro to allow him an extra tee shot, "a Mulligan," to encourage his continued participation in the royal and ancient game.

Soon everyone everywhere wanted "a Mulligan." The bonus extra drive became so popular that the starter's shed at many a course displayed a sign: NO MULLIGANS ALLOWED.

Now there's a how-de-do. When traveling, I sometimes telephone a municipal course for a tee time. "Name, please?" the pro shop always inquires. My answer invariably is met with hoots of derisive laughter.

Ah well, at times like that I recall with pride Hercules Mulligan, the courageous tailor who spied on the British for George Washington; Richard Mulligan, the actor; Gerry Mulligan, the jazzman; Robert Mulligan, the director of To Kill a Mockingbird, and Judge William Hughes Mulligan, a fabled orator at the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick. No duffers they.

Hugh Mulligan is a former reporter/foreign correspondent for Associated Press. He has twice won the AP Managing Editors Award, and he holds the Freedom Foundation Gold Medal, AP's prestigious Oliver Grambling Award. Mulligan's most recent honor, of which he is most proud, was to be named The Bard of Brooklyn at the Great Irish Fair in September.