Loophole Rule Offers PGA Tour Pros a Mulligan

You may not even remember the name Michael Campbell? I suppose I can’t blame you. You see, while he may not be a Blockbuster name on tour today in 2021, he certainly had his moment. Let me take you back in time to 2005.

You may remember that year for several events: Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans, flooding over 80% of the entire city. A popular video sharing website was created by 3 former PayPal employees. That website today gets over 5 billion daily video views and is worth a staggering 170 billion dollars. You know that startup website today as YouTube. George W. Bush was entering his second term in office and in golf the infamous “Tiger Chip” at the Masters was all the rage.

With all of that, I will ask you…Can you remember who won the U.S. Open that year? Remember, it was played at the Deuce (Pinehurst #2) and as was the case in almost every Major back then, El Tigre was in contention coming down the stretch in his Sunday Red. However, Tiger didn’t win that U.S. Open…

You guessed it, Michael Campbell did. Holding off a late surge by the young GOAT he claimed the trophy winning by 2 strokes. This ended up being the only major championship victory of his PGA career. Sure, he went on to win a few more events, including the Match Play in the same year (2005) but by most accounts he just kind of faded out after that and became background noise.

Enter the resurgence. Well, sort of. Recently, at the Senior Open, the very same Michael Campbell was permitted, by a very interesting and unusual rule, to hit a mulligan. Check out this bizarre series of circumstances below that lead to the ruling…

1. Campbell has a unique pre-shot routine. He takes his practice swing dangerously close to the ball and does so almost immediately after teeing it up. Think Zach Johnson at Augusta a few years back.

2. Just like Johnson, Campbell accidentally hit the golf ball during his practice swing. The ball tumbled half willingly down the fairway about 100 yards (mostly on the ground). Michael, laughing at his blunder, walked off the tee feeling like most of us do at a shotgun charity event after topping one into the bushes on the 1st hole.
3. Here is where it gets interesting. Campbell, who has done this before on tour, was permitted to take a mulligan under the Rules of Golf. Rule 6.2b states “when you are playing a ball from the teeing area, the ball is not in play until a stroke is made at it. This means that once you tee your ball up, you must make an intentional pass at the ball for it to count as a stroke.  Making contact with the ball during a practice swing that accidentally strikes and moves the ball, you have not made an intentional stroke or purposefully moved the ball into play. “The Rules allow you to simply re-tee that same ball or another ball without penalty.”
4. While Campbell was able to reload his tee shot, he was not able to overcome his blunder. He missed the cut shooting +11 over par after Friday’s round and did not survive to play on the weekend.

“Pretty much sums up my day today,” Campbell tweeted. “(Zach) I know how you felt.”

While mulligans on the PGA tour are indeed very rare, to us weekend warriors they are all too familiar. Interesting fact: The term “Mulligan” is said to be derived from Canadian golf professional David Mulligan. He once re loaded his morning tee shot while playing with his buddies on a Saturday morning friendly match, and they let him have it. He has never lived that down and will forever be known as the father of the golf re-do.

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