Jimmy shanked his tee shot into the woods. He pulled a second ball out of his jeans pocket with one smooth move.
“I’m taking my mulligan!” he announced to his brothers Steve and Mookie. He placed it on the tee, reared back and blasted a worm-burner down the middle.
“You should have saved your mulligan for later on,” Mookie said, driving the his golf cart over the tee box. “You only get one mulligan per nine holes.”
“I’ll be warmed up by then,” Jimmy said. “I won’t need it.”
“Yeah, right,” Steve said. “By the time you are warmed up, we’ll be in the bar.”
We were on the brutal Ike course at Industry Hills, one of the toughest tracks in Southern California. I was teamed up with three brothers. They attended UC-Irvine together- Steve was a senior with a vague major, Jimmy studied advertising but spent more time on his mobile DJ business, and Mookie dropped in and out of school like he was checking into a hotel. Mostly he helped Jimmy by scratching records.
I learned he got the name “Mookie” from his cell mate in the Pocoima jail. He was sentenced to 30 days after inciting a brawl at a wedding. Jimmy was DJing the reception when Mookie decided it would be a good idea to put some moves on the bride. The groom and his seven groomsmen felt differently.
On the third hole, Steve tried to blast out of a sand trap. His ball hit the lip and rolled back to almost the exact same spot it used to occupy. Steve picked up the ball and tossed it near my feet on the grass.
“I’m taking my mulligan,” he said.
No one else was near us. “You can take your mulligan out of the sand?” I asked.
“Yeah, but you only get one mulligan per nine holes,” he answered.
On the seventh tee, Steve smashed a ball deep in the rough.
“Mulligan!” he said loudly, setting another Pinnacle Extreme on the tee. I looked at his brothers. They didn’t say anything- they didn’t know Steve had already used his mulligan out of the sand. Steve had apparently forgot as well.
On number eight, I waited for the foursome in front of us to get off the green while I watched Mookie size up his shot. He was behind a tree that was dead solid in the middle of his line. He kicked the ball out in the fairway.
“Taking my mully,” he said to me. I didn’t mind that they were taking mulligans everywhere. They paid their money.
But I don’t like mulligans. I try to play it where it lies. I usually don’t have to worry because most of my tee shots end up off the course itself so I have to re-tee anyway. But half the fun for me is trying to hit a heroic shot- one that is way over my skill level.
In tennis, they let you hit a second serve if you miss the first one. But tennis isn’t much of a sport. You can’t smoke cigars very well and it is hard to hold a beer and serve the ball at the same time. If I played tennis I would set up the ball machine to launch serves while I went to the snack bar.
In baseball you get several swings at the ball. The only difference is the ball is moving toward your body at over 90 miles per hour.
But in golf you just hit it and find it, hit it and find it, hit it and find it. Mulligans take the misery out of it. What fun is that?
On the ninth tee, Mookie sent his ball over the green into the flowers. He reloaded and hit the second ball on the green. Steve bounced his shot off the cart path and nearly hit the Funicular, an old-fashioned tram railway that runs up the side of the hill to the pro shop.
He set up another ball and poked it on the green. Jimmy skidded his nine iron halfway to the hole where it stopped dead. Without a word he teed up another ball and hit it near the flag.
“You guys playing tennis?” I asked. “You all hit two balls.”
Mookie squinted at me through his wrap-around sunglasses.
“Don’t worry about it, dude. We haven’t used our mulligans yet!” he said.