CRAIG NELSON: What a world it would be if you could sometimes take a mulligan
11:30pm Saturday 12th October 2013 in Sport
THERE are many quirky terms used in golf to describe one thing or another, just listen to any Peter Alliss commentary.
But my favourite, and I assume the favourite of many a casual golfer, has to be the “mulligan”.
Traditionally employed on the first tee, a mulligan is a stroke that is replayed from the spot of the previous stroke without penalty.
So, for example, if you are a bit rusty and shank your first shot into the trees, you can just “take a mulligan” and forget it ever happened.
It is a concept I often wish I could extend to real life.
I would have happily taken a mulligan on Tuesday morning as I rushed into work late after fighting a losing battle with my 18-month-old daughter and a car seat.
Of course, wiping whole moments in time from your memory is an act of pure fantasy, but I bet it is one that many a professional sportsman wishes they could do.
Unfortunately, the courtesy does not extend to competitive golf, but I understand from a sub on our desk with a little more life experience than me (sorry Gordon) that Doug Sanders would be first in the queue for a retrospective mulligan.
As Mr Sharrock describes it, just after sending a “gimme” three-footer on its way to “win” the 1970 Open at St Andrews he immediately tried to claw it back as it slipped by the hole.
I can only imagine how many times he has replayed in his mind the second of the two putts he had to beat compatriot Jack Nicklaus. Sadly, he went on to lose the resulting 18-hole play-off and ended his career without a major title to his name.
Golf is full of hard-luck stories, just like Sanders’, but there are many other sporting nightmares that could have been averted with a mulligan.
For missed putts, read missed penalties in football.
There is probably an over-played newsreel somewhere in the alternate Planet Mulligan with a jubilant Stuart Pearce and Chris Waddle doing their infamous jig holding the World Cup aloft.
If you look closely, Gazza can be seen in the background sporting a false pair of breasts and a beaming grin of relief that he backed out of his lunge in the semi-final, allowing him to play a starring role in the hammering of Maradona’s Argentina in the final.
And then of course, there is the 2000 FA Cup semi-final, when Dean Holdsworth smashed home a late winner against Aston Villa, as Wanderers ensured their place in history as the first and last winners of the cup at the old Wembley.
God bless the mulligan, now about this decision to hand Qatar the World Cup finals...