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This mulligan-per-hole game could actually speed up pace of play

May 03, 2022

Cy Cyr

We arrived at the first tee ready to have our games and patience tested. The wonkishly named Sydney R. Marovitz Golf Course, on the shores of Lake Michigan, manages to score both high and low on the convenience scale. High because it’s located right in Chicago, minutes from Wrigley Field. Low because a nine-hole round can last longer than a doubleheader.

While observing the foursome in front of us hack away, I proposed a betting game to my friends Jeff and Kian: Every player gets one mulligan per hole. You can use it off the tee … or with your approach … or on a blast from a bunker … or even on the greens. So much strategy! Or as simple as this: Stripe your tee shot, laser your wedge to 10 feet and you get two cracks at birdie.

The weather was gorgeous and the course full, so we figured we wouldn’t make it around in less than two and a half hours. We were paired with Carolyn Armenta Davis, a Chicago-based architecture historian of international acclaim. I promised that our goofy game would not slow her down.

We called these “Waveland Rules” in honor of the original, charming name of the Chicago Park District course.

By the end of round, Jeff was calling it “the most fun I’ve had gambling all year.”

The Sydney R. Marovitz golf course, which opened in 1932 as Waveland Golf Course.

Teddy Greenstein

And Kian, after thinning his initial approach into the ninth hole, remarked: “The great thing about this game is you can hit a golf cart with your second shot and still make birdie.”

We even won over Davis, who took amusement in our play-it-or-replay-it debates: “I enjoyed watching this double-game among friends.”

Indeed, a game within a game.

Here are the Waveland Rules:

1) It’s best played head-to-head (match play) or as a threesome (skins). The prospect of a foursome taking eight tee shots would even make everyone playing groan.

2) It’s still two off the first. Don’t even think about replaying your breakfast ball.

3) You must use your replacement shot—even if it’s worse than your original.

4) Birdies pay double in skins. But only natural birdies. (I made one on a second putt and refused the extra skins, perhaps the first time I’ve shown true honor on the golf course.)

5) There’s a 15-second decision clock. If you exceed this, your friends should yell “clock!” as if someone at the poker table is Hollywood-ing.

We had a blast with Waveland Rules. We played a variation of skins, where the loser kicks up $20 to the winner and the second-place guy breaks even. (It’s more efficient than dealing with small bills after a round. It should be illegal to Venmo someone less than $3.)

By the round’s end, we learned two key things about Waveland Rules:

1) It benefits those who know their game. Let’s say you pitch it to 15 feet for your third shot on a par 5. Would you rather have a re-do on the pitch … or two putts for birdie? Same goes for the tee shot. Can you live with a drive that leaves you 175 from the light rough … or should you roll the dice and hope to have a 9-iron approach from the fairway?

2) You can make a case that the game has no effect on pace, or maybe it’ll even save some time. No one is hitting recovery shots from the trees (unless the second drive is as bad as the first), and you should be reducing the time spent searching for lost balls while getting a mulligan. And with skins, there’s probably no use grinding out a bogey.

Teddy Greenstein, our writer (left), Carolyn Armenta Davis, and the dudes in the selfie with me are (L-R): Jeff Carrier and Kian Dowlatshahi

Teddy Greenstein

I’m a 12 index but shot a tidy 37 with Mulligan Rules. (Would have been about a 41.) Scooped five skins. And kept the trailing group out of earshot.

Win-win-win.

Teddy Greenstein, a longtime golf and football writer at the Chicago Tribune, is Senior Editor at PointsBet USA. Hit him up at teddy.greenstein@pointsbet.com with any rules questions.