[Ads-l] mulligan (golf)--warning: speculative

dave@wilton.net dave at WILTON.NET
Mon Jun 7 14:43:30 EDT 2021

"Milligan" was the original name coined by Bozeman Bulger in 1908. Other writers changed it to "Mulligan." (Why is unknown. Perhaps they didn't want to plagiarize, or perhaps more likely is that it was an error because "Mulligan" was more familiar.) In any case, the "Mulligan" spelling was the dominant one by the time it moved into golf a decade or two later.
There are two citations that highlight the transition. The first is about Babe Ruth playing golf:
Edgren, Robert. “Long-Range Hit Record for Baseball and Golf Ruth’s Chief Ambition.” Evening World (New York) 13 March 1920, 8. Library of Congress, Chronicling America: Historical American Newspapers.
"Famous 'Babe' Has Natural Form for Walloping Home Runs, but on Links He’s Developed Special Style That Drives the Little Ball Over 300 Yards—Yankee Star Confident of Flashing New Swat Mulligan Stuff This Year in Both Baseball and Golf."
The second is a reference to Yankee Sammy Byrd (who later became a successful pro golfer) getting a second chance in a pro-am golf tournament to hit a mulligan (i.e. a long drive) after he muffed the first attempt:
Drukenbrod, M. F. “Beaupres Step Some.” Detroit Free Press, 13 October 1931, 16. ProQuest Historical Newspapers.
"All were waiting to see what Byrd would do on the 290-yard 18th, with a creek in front of the well-elevated green. His first drive barely missed carrying the creek and he was given a “mulligan” just for fun. The second not only was over the creek on the fly but was within a few inches of the elevated green. That’s some poke!"
-----Original Message-----
From: "Stephen Goranson" <goranson at DUKE.EDU>
Sent: Monday, June 7, 2021 9:23am
Subject: Re: [ADS-L] mulligan (golf)--warning: speculative

Among the reasons to doubt Prof. Wilton's "slam dunk" certainty:
If sports writers had Milligan in mind--for a swat that was precisely not​*-why is it, e.g. "take a mulligan" rather than "take a milligan"?

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list