‘The Mulligan’ movie: Need a second chance?

By Rusty Wright

Ever wish life granted second chances?  What would you do with them?  The Mulligan movie uses the game of golf to get you to ponder possibilities.

The Mulligan cast features Pat Boone (Journey to the Center of the Earth, State Fair); Eric Close (Nashville, American Sniper, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit); Tanya Christiansen (I Still Believe, The Hate U Give), and Charmin Lee (Just Mercy, The 5th Wave).

The film is based on the novel, The Mulligan: A Parable of Second Chances, by former PGA touring pro Wally Armstrong and author/business executive Ken Blanchard. 

What’s a mulligan?

Webster defines a mulligan as “a free shot sometimes given a golfer in informal play when the previous shot was poorly played.”

Golf Digest discusses various theories of how the do-over got named a “mulligan.”  Was it after hotelier and golfer David Bernard Mulligan?  In Montreal?  New York?  In the 1920s or 1930s?  Or maybe locker-room attendant “Buddy” Mulligan in New Jersey?

In any case, the term is an effective metaphor for life’s second chances. 

Winning at work; losing at home

Paul McAllister is the high powered CEO of a multinational e-commerce empire.  “Performance, Perfection, Profit!” is his mantra for winning at work.  He’s also an amateur golfer aiming to secure a big business deal with a billionaire Asian golfer.  He’s separated from his wife, Rebecca.  Jake, his son, hates him.

Rebecca prays for Paul, an exercise in futility, feels Jake: “God’s warranty on dad coming back has expired. I’m just sick of seeing you get let down.”

Enter the “Old Pro” (Boone), a seasoned veteran who gives friendly coaching about mulligans in golf and life.  “So, how do you see yourself?” Old Pro asks Paul.  “Any regrets? …What about your personal life?”

As the two grow closer, Old Pro communicates personal heartaches related to losing loved ones.

Life’s second chances

Miffed, Paul wonders how a good God could allow people to suffer.  He struggles with Old Pro’s affirmation that “God uses seemingly bad things for good.”

The Mulligan features plenty of golf, corporate intrigue, laugh-out-loud humor, and even motocross.  It’s a touching family drama.  Anyone from an imperfect family – or who’s seen ambition harm relationships, or wanted to start over – should relate.

I’m grateful for second – and third – chances at marriage, after being divorced and widowed.  And at employment, after being fired.  But of course, a second chance is only a chance.  Our choices in acting on new opportunities influence results.

Golf technique and etiquette

That I warm to some golf movies surprises me.  Though my childhood backyard opened onto a Miami golf course, I’ve never played. 

However, my siblings and I did learn about golf technique and etiquette.  We would hide a walkie-talkie (locked in “speaker mode”) in the bushes near a sand trap a few feet from our property line.  We watched from inside the house as unsuspecting golfers began to hit their ball out of the trap.  On their backswing, we’d announce – via the walkie-talkie – “Don’t forget to keep your head down.”

After hurricanes, we would venture onto the wet, empty course to gather golf balls shaken loose by the wind from the palm trees where they had become lodged over the years.

Now, as an adult who’s weathered many life storms and has often asked questions similar to Paul’s, I can appreciate the lessons about trusting God to “cause…everything to work together for the good of those who love [him].”

The Mulligan includes poignant portrayals of work and family relationship struggles.  It’s a fun, entertaining and moving reminder to contemplate what’s truly important in life.  Including – maybe – your own do-overs.

www.TheMulliganMovie.com     Showing in US theaters April 18 and 19

Rusty Wright is an author and lecturer who has spoken on six continents.  He holds Bachelor of Science (psychology) and Master of Theology degrees from Duke and Oxford universities, respectively. www.RustyWright.com

Copyright © 2022 Rusty Wright

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Editors:  Note pictures below.  For access to these and more, check here, here, here, here, and here

‘The Mulligan’ film poster.
Pat Boone as “the Old Pro.” Photo credit: The Mulligan Movie.
Eric Close as Paul McAllister and Charmin Lee as Harriet. Photo credit: The Mulligan Movie.
Tanya Christiansen as Rebecca McAllister. Photo credit: The Mulligan Movie.
Eric Close as Paul McAllister and Pat Boone as “the Old Pro.” Photo credit: The Mulligan Movie.
Andrew Brodeur as Jake McAllister. Photo credit: The Mulligan Movie.