Explaining the Golf Game(s) Named 'Play It Again Sam'

"Play It Again Sam" is the name shared by two different golf formats — two formats that are close to being the opposite of one another. In one version, Play It Again Sam takes a golfer's handicap and converts it into mulligans that golfer can use during the round. In the other version, Play It Again Sam grants your opponents the ability to make you replay a stroke.

Because both versions involve golfers replaying strokes, this game is best played on golf courses that are experiencing a lull in activity. In other words, don't show up to a busy golf course on a busy day and try to play this game. You'll only cause frustration and anger in groups waiting behind you that are trying to figure out why you keep replaying shots.

The game called Mulligan/Recall is kind of a synthesis of the two different Play It Again Sams, since in that game golfers both get to take mulligans and are subject to opponents forcing replays.

Version 1 of Play It Again Sam

In the first version, which involves converting one's handicap into mulligans, Play It Again Sam is a golf game that also goes by the names Criers and Whiners, Mulligans, No Alibis and Wipeout. Those names are all synonyms for the same game.

You can read our Criers and Whiners definition for more details. But the gist of this version of the game is that a golfer gets the same number of mulligans to use during the round as she has handicap strokes. If Golfer X has a course handicap of seven, she gets seven mulligans to use during the round. If Golfer Y has a course handicap of 18, he gets 18 mulligans to use during the round.

Version 2 of Play It Again Sam

In the other game called Play It Again Sam, instead of each golfer being able to replay his or her own strokes, your opponent gets to make you replay strokes.

Hit a fantastic approach to within inches of the cup? Your opponent can make you hit it again. Sink a long putt? Your opponent can call "do over."

This version is best played among good friends, for obvious reasons, and is only well-suited to groups of players of similar abilities. Also, it is advisable, in the interest of time, to limit the number of strokes that are re-playable. Actually, it's more than advisable, it's imperative.

Otherwise, every good shot that happens in your group will be forced into a replay. So negotiate a cap on do-overs before the round starts, taking into account the average scores of those in your group (give a few more strokes to higher scorers, a few less to lower scorers).

Also, if you want to force another golfer to replay a stroke, you must do so immediately after they hit. You can't wait until you move up ahead to see where their ball is sitting.

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