What Is A Breakfast Ball In Golf

What Is A Breakfast Ball In Golf? (2024 Definition)

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You might be happy to receive an invitation to a gala dinner ball or a birthday dinner ball. But there is no such enthusiasm when the breakfast ball is called on the golf course. So, what is a breakfast ball in golf?

A breakfast ball is the first Mulligan ( penalty-free re-do) of the first shot of the morning. It is often taken without pre-agreement to the annoyance of one’s friends. The official rules of Golf do not recognize it, and it is not used in official games.

In this article, you will learn the complete golf breakfast ball definition, the differences between mulligans and breakfast balls alongside the fairest possible way to ask for one. You will also discover why breakfast balls (when asked fairly) are taken more seriously than mulligans.

But before that, let’s explore the origins of this term and why golfers are so obsessed with getting extra shots in golf.

Where Did The Breakfast Ball Come From?

Where Did The Breakfast Ball Come From

Breakfast balls were called breakfast balls because they were taken before breakfast. When this started isn’t clear, though general speculation points to the early 20th Century.

So, despite being referred to as a type of “Mulligan,” it precedes the latter by a decade.

In this article, we will also discuss the best golf ball brands that you can consider for your next game.

Are A Mulligan And Breakfast Ball The Same?

Are A Mulligan And Breakfast Ball The Same

Technically, a breakfast ball is a type of Mulligan, so all breakfast balls are mulligans. However, not all mulligans are breakfast balls because breakfast balls are given on the initial tee shot when the tee time is early morning.

A mulligan can be awarded at any point of the day.

Aside from timing, there’s virtually no difference between the two.

They both come from the same source: Buddy Mulligan, who is credited with asking for extra tee shots so often that he became immortalized in the golf dictionary.

While it has become common to call correction shots “mulligans” nearly seven decades after David Bernard Mulligan passed away, this wasn’t the title for do-overs during his lifetime. When Mulligan got the do-over shot right, he would say, “That’s a Mulligan.” The term caught on but became a glossary item by the 50s.

Today, the Mulligan has become common among casual players.

It is requested before the game. But golfers who don’t get pre-agreement can kind of cheat by re-doing their first shot and calling it a breakfast ball. 

While a breakfast ball’s validity depends on players’ agreement, it is usually called after a shot is messed up. If players disagree, the one asking for it can walk away. Because of this threat, most casual players reluctantly agree to allow it.

Differences between mulligans and golf breakfast balls are as follows:

  • Breakfast balls were taken before Mulligan started requesting them more liberally – Because re-dos existed before Mulligan, he had grounds to ask for them in casual rounds. 
  • There is a reverse mulligan, but there is no reverse breakfast ball – You can make a mulligan fairer with a reverse mulligan. The only way to make a breakfast ball fair is to call it before swinging. 
  • Breakfast balls can be called before swinging, while Mulligans are invoked retroactively only – You can say, “Hey, this is a breakfast ball,” then swing to get rid of morning rustiness. But you can only call a mulligan when you’ve made a shot, and it has gone poorly. 
  • Mulligans can be allowed on the fairway, but a breakfast ball is limited to the tee box – Again, mulligans neutralize poor shots, while breakfast balls are simply meant to shake off morning weariness. 
  • Mulligans are valid at any time of the day, while breakfast balls are limited to mornings only – Sometimes, breakfast balls are limited further to a period before breakfast. It can also be seen as an empty stomach allowance. 
  • There can be multiple mulligans, but there cannot be multiple breakfast balls in a round – Mulligans can be used as the handicap equivalent for a consistent shank-hitter, but breakfast balls are for a broader set of golfers. 
  • Mulligans are meant to offset poor play, while breakfast balls are meant to shake off morning rust – All the differences between mulligans and breakfast balls boil down to the fact that one is meant to neutralize poor play while the other is meant to neutralize inertia.

Everyone can be weary, out of form, and in need of a warm-up in the morning, but only a few people have problems with shanking and slicing often enough to require a Mulligan quota.

But for fairness’ sake, please ask permission before making a bad shot, regardless of whether you want a mulligan or a breakfast ball.

Do You Need To Ask For Breakfast Balls?

Do You Need To Ask For Breakfast Balls

While mulligans are requested more formally, breakfast balls are simply taken, sometimes to the annoyance of one’s golf buddies. Since it is a re-do that is limited to casual rounds, it has no legal standing in golf.

So if your friends stand against it adamantly enough, it can b rendered invalid. Ultimately, the validity of breakfast depends on your ability to persuade your peers if they’re against it. It can also depend on who is bothered enough to pick a fight over it.

As it is the first shot of the day, players can simply walk away because of disagreement. Whichever party is more willing to walk out gets their way. That does not align with the game’s spirit, though.

Can You Ask For Breakfast Balls In Official Games?

Can You Ask For Breakfast Balls In Official Games

You cannot ask for breakfast balls in official games because all players have to adhere to the rules, which do not validate such penalty-free do-overs. However, in some games, a player can have a second shot at making the first shot if he is willing to get a penalty score.

Usually, penalties are reserved for out-of-bound shots and lost balls. You get to re-do the shot instead of having to fetch and drive it from the golf club’s parking lot. But you also get one or two points on your score. Still, it is lower than what it would be without a re-do.

The reasons for breakfast balls being disallowed in official games include the following:

  • Pros are too good to need one – Mulligans are more often required because of precision issues instead of distance issues. Tee shots don’t require as much precision, and the pros are too good to mess up driving. 
  • It gives some golfers an unfair advantage – Professionals play without handicaps, and giving anyone a breakfast ball would give them an unfair edge. 
  • A breakfast ball can cause controversy – Aside from endless debates among fans, the use of a breakfast ball can also slow down the round because of on-course arguments. 
  • It can affect the consensus around world rankings – Shots during high-profile golf events don’t affect just the outcome of the game but also a player’s global standing. One breakfast ball could jeopardize the integrity of a player’s ranking.

Is It Okay To Ask For A Breakfast Ball?

Is It Okay To Ask For A Breakfast Ball

Even though breakfast balls aren’t in the official rules of golf, you can still ask for them when playing with your friends.

In casual golf, it is okay to call a breakfast if you can get away with it.

Can You Ask For A Breakfast Ball After Swinging?

Can You Ask For A Breakfast Ball After Swinging

The fairest way to get a breakfast ball is to call one before you swing and then re-do the shot, no matter how good or bad it is. But that’s not how most golfers who get breakfast balls get them.

Most casual golfers who use breakfast balls ask for them after messing up the initial driving shot of the morning.

They simply pick up the ball and walk back, saying, “Breakfast shot.” Because no one is bothered enough to fight early in the morning.

Conclusion: Golf Breakfast Ball

Final Thoughts

A breakfast ball is a penalty-free second go at the first shot of the morning.

Golf breakfast balls are not recognized in the official rules of golf, just like the Mulligan. Where mulligans can be taken wherever a group agrees to accept them, breakfast balls are taken to the annoyance of the group.