‘Mulligan’s Laws,’ Henry Heard, Editor

By: Bob Spiwak


“Mulligan’s Laws” is the funniest golf book I have read in over half a century. Perhaps Henry Heard’s “The Official Exceptions to the Rules of Golf” is funnier; I’ll find out when I read it. Beard is a founder of “National Lampoon,” and credits himself as editor of this book, claiming it was written by Thomas Mulligan, Fourth Earl of Murphy, the genius who invented the “Do-Over.”

The book is not much larger in size than the Rules of Golf, containing 111 pages of laughter. Before the book begins there is an Introduction that introduces Mr. Mulligan, born in 1793 as a minor Anglo-Irish aristocrat. The golf establishment soon condemned what you will read inside the book. Quoting from the Intro: “Mulligan . . . was the target of a far-reaching campaign on the part of the golf establishment which, within a week of his funeral, sent squads of goons to eradicate from the face of the earth all traces of the heretic who had dared to humanize the rigid and cold-hearted game they ruled with an iron grip.”

The book is divided into sections, including: The Player, The Course, The Match, The Ball, The Clubhouse and, of course, The Game. What follows are some excerpts from the compendium of “Mulligan’s Laws.” You will note that some may conflict (like the Mulligan itself) with the iron-clad rules determined by USGA and R & A.

* The stages of a golfer’s game are: Sudden Collapse, Radical Change, Complete Frustration, Slow Improvement, Brief Mastery and Sudden Collapse.

* The only thing you can learn from golf books is that you can’t learn anything from golf books, but you have to read an awful lot of golf books to learn that.

* Since bad shots come in groups of three, a fourth bad shot is actually the beginning of the next group of three.

* Never use another player’s ball on the same hole where you stole it.

* Always replace divots in the fairway and rake footprints in the sand trap even if you have to move your ball to do so.

* When another foursome is on the green, yelling “Fore” is not an excuse, “So What?” is not an apology, and “Up Yours” is not an explanation.

* A ball hit to the wrong green will always land 2 feet from the hole.

(Editor’s Note: For more of this type of golf silliness, check out Chris Kretz’s two installments of “Useful Golf Book” in Cybergolf’s Writers Corner section - www.cybergolf.com/writerscorner.)

By now, you have probably gotten the idea. This is a lot of fun, and you can memorize some of the pointers for your match-play opponent. It worked for me when I used: “The only sure way to get a par is to leave a 4-foot birdie putt 2 inches from the hole.”

“Mulligan’s Laws,” Henry Heard, Ed., Doubleday, 1993, ISBN #0-385-46999-3

Bob Spiwak took up golf in 1953 as a respite from the rigors of selling bibles door-to-door in North Dakota. Though suffering a four-year lapse, he’s back to being a fanatical golfer. Now a contributing editor for Cybergolf, Spiwak has written articles for almost every golf magazine in the Western world. Bob’s most treasured golf antiquity is a nod he got from Gerald Ford at the 1990 Golf Summit. Spiwak lives in Mazama, Wash., with his wife and several pets next to his fabled ultraprivate Whispering Rattlesnakes Golf & Flubbers Club.

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