Definition of 'Lunch Ball' in Golf

What is a "lunch ball"? It's a mulligan — a do-over. Yes, in golf, "lunch ball" is another term (one of many) for the mulligan, which is a stroke that a golfer replays without penalty when his or her group has agreed to allow it. But there are some interesting nuances to the lunch ball.

A group of golfers that agrees to "play mulligans" or "use mulligans" is agreeing to what? Most commonly, when lunch balls are used, it means that a golfer has the option on the first tee to replay the stroke if the result was a bad shot. Did you just top your first drive of the day? Use your mulligan.

Another common way to use lunch balls is to allow one from the first tee and one from the 10th tee. Another option that is common is to allow one mulligan on any stroke anywhere except the putting green on the front nine, and another one on the back nine. It's up to each group to decide whether to use mulligans, and, if so, how. Just keep in mind that mulligans are never "legal" under the Rules of Golf, so, yes, you will be breaking the rules if you use one.

But in a friendly round in which you're just out to have fun with buddies? Author Ron Kapriskie in What's a Golfer to Do? put it this way: "Hitting a lunch ball off the first — so long as it's an accepted practice among your foursome — isn't breaking the law."

Where does the term "lunch ball" come from? Good question! We haven't been able to find a good answer to that. Perhaps there is a clue in the fact that some golfers call mulligans "breakfast balls." Then there are golfers who use "breakfast ball" when teeing off in the morning, "lunch ball" when teeing off after noon.

And some groups use both terms — when teeing off No. 1 in the morning (breakfast ball because you haven't gotten started yet) and No. 10 in the afternoon (after taking a lunch break, or at least a snack break, at the turn).

In addition to these terms, lunch balls/mulligans are also called charity balls and Sunday balls.

More definitions:

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