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How Many Mulligans Would You Need To Win The US Open?

General Views of Shinnecock Hills Golf Club

Took a perplexing listener question on this week’s show: How many mulligans would you need to win the US Open?

It obviously depends on skill level but let’s say you’re a solid, frequent golfer with a 6-10 handicap. You consistently shoot low to mid 80s at your golf club. The US Open next month is at Shinnecock Hills. Last time around Shinny, in 2004, the Goose won at 4-under. So let’s assume you’d have to post a 1-under 69 each day to win the 2018 US Open. It’s a 7,445 yard, par 70, firm and fast test with tricked out greens, brutal rough, and borderline unplayable fescue.

The format would be you’re given ‘x’ amount of mulligans on the first tee, use them whenever and however you want. Once they’re gone, they’re gone. How many do you need to win?

A couple folks’ thoughts.

My roommate Lurch made a great point: If you got to hit each shot twice and take the best one, would you win? Not even close. So that means you’re going to need at least 40-50 mulligans per round, probably more. A mulligan also doesn’t guarantee a saved stroke — you’re just as likely to hit a worse shot as you are a better one.

And you’d have to make a ton of tough decisions. Do you mulligan every time you miss the fairway? Do you save them and hope you can grind out pars from the rough? From a bunker? If you miss a 12-footer, do you burn one? Some mulligans you’d undoubtedly waste, saving no strokes. Others you’d save 2 or 3 on the difference from where your first ball ended up. It’d be an absolute rollercoaster.

I also believe there’s a certain skill-level cutoff where even infinity mulligans wouldn’t matter. You’re not capable of winning. Fatigue and skill-level restrictions literally wouldn’t allow for certain players to post 4-under over four days at Shinny and win the US Open. What’s that skill-level? 15 handi? 20? 30? I’m not sure, but it exists. Like no offense to Trent but he could play four rounds at Shinnecock over an entire year with unlimited mulligans and never post 4-under par. There’s a chance I couldn’t either.

I’m currently a 5.4 index and my most well-educated guess is that a fair bet would be 40 mulligans per round so 160 total. I think I’d be able to string together some stretches of pars, sprinkle in some birdies, and utilize the mulligans mostly around the greens to save strokes. As is important for pretty much any US Open, I’d have to drive it well to save my mulligans off the tee and utilize them the closer I get to the green.

Imagine the spectacle of watching a 6-10 handicap tee off in the US Open with 160 mulligans and seeing how he finishes? No brainer. You’re welcome, USGA.

We discuss it further on this week’s show. Also welcomed my pal Mike Ballo who’s the assistant pro at Winged Foot, caddied on TOUR this year for Jon Curran, played some Web, and played college golf with People’s Golfer 2.0 Keegan Bradley.

Check it out.