By Russell G. Bell
I look forward to each and every round of golf
I play but I cringe at the end of every round when I look at the
scorecard. I realize I could have done so much better than what
I posted as a score. I also know my posted score would be much
worse if I had not allowed myself the "Mulligan" for
each nine holes, or if I had not invoked the "Winter Rules"
habit of moving my ball to a better lie.
My rational mind tells me I am not a professional golfer, therefore these little "accommodations" are not earth-shattering in the greater scheme of life.
Let’s talk for a few minutes about these two score helpers. When I play a Mulligan it is always off of the tee box; I use the "Winter Rules" everywhere else, except for the greens, of course.
A Mulligan: the derivation of the word "Mulligan" has never been factually attributed, but it is simply a second shot (without penalty). Normally I allow myself one Mulligan for each nine holes. When I would play with my friends in Alaska we would also allow ourselves an additional Mulligan off of the first tee. This first shot invariably headed for the woods and everyone knows the second shot is always straight and true (not). If the second shot were also wayward we would suck it up and play the second shot even if it meant a lost ball penalty. We would take a drop near the point of entry into the hazard and assess ourselves a lost ball penalty stroke. When the Mulligan did fly straight and true we never took the allowable five minutes to look for the first ball - it was assumed the lost ball was the cost of the Mulligan.
When I travel to my hometown to play in the tournament my brother David puts on each year, the tournament officials allow you to buy 5 Mulligans for 5 dollars. This money goes into the kitty to help buy Christmas presents for needy kids in the area, a cause worth supporting.
Perhaps if I were to keep track of all of the Mulligans I used through out the golf season and put the equivalent amount of money into the red kettle, I would either feel better about their use or I would find myself using fewer Mulligans because of the end cost. I will have to sleep on this one.
Now, the "Winter Rules" function was established by a posting at the golf course in Alaska that allowed players to relocate their fairway shots to a tuft of grass because of all of the dead grass hardpan that was a result of the winter kill. My friends and I adopted this rule with glee and were doubly blessed when we noticed there was was no expiration date on the rule! This meant we could relocate our ball if it landed in someone's divot, a rut caused by erosion, or just buried in grass that had not been mowed for a couple of days. I have tried to stop using "Winter Rules" since I no longer live in Alaska, but old habits die hard!
I said earlier in this article I would sleep on a decision and I have just had an epiphany. I think I am going to have some signs made up and distribute them to the local golf courses. The signs will ask the golfers to be on the honor system and donate one dollar to the First Tee organization for every Mulligan they take on the course. Who knows, there could be a ground swell of money coming to the First Tee. For those of you who don’t know about the First Tee, it is an organization devoted to introducing the game of golf to children who would not normally have access to golf...a worthy endeavor.
I have recently retired and can now indulge in the one passion I have had all of my life, golf. I was an Army brat and each Army post had a golf course and a bowling alley. To earn money, I set pins and caddied.
Automatic pin setters came into use long before the courses had carts for the golfers so my interest stayed with the links. One thing the Army courses lacked was a professional teaching staff so my swing, stance and other fundamentals were developed by watching the golfers. Soon, I spent all of the money I earned on rental clubs, balls, gloves, tees and course fees. I did not own the proper shoes until I was an adult.
I have been playing golf for over 45 years and although it is my passion I chose to live 26 of those years in Alaska where golf was limited by the short season and the hard to get tee times.
I am also a stage actor and have performed in
over 100 stage productions. I have made television commercials,
voice over work on the radio, and print advertising.