Named after Charlie Mulligan, the first caddie at Ballyneal Golf Club, the Mulligan course is a 12-hole par-three layout constructed in 2016 by Tom Doak and Renaissance Golf Design as an entertaining short game option for members.
The Ballyneal Mulligan course, designed by Tom Doak, is a wonderful addition to Ballyneal, where I have the most fun playing golf. There is no other par 3 course in the world like it. While it does not have the beauty or the challenge of Bandon Dunes Preserve, it is more both more natural and more fun (other than the finisher at Bandon Preserve where you take your putter out to have a go downhill at the green).
Let’s get the negative out of the way. The Mulligan course is twelve holes with the first hole beginning at the second tee, so one either has to walk down the first fairway or take a cart ride from the pro shop. The ninth hole finishes near the clubhouse with the tenth beginning off the patio section of the clubhouse. After playing the tenth, the eleventh and twelfth continue going away from the clubhouse leaving you in the middle of nowhere, somewhat close to the fifth green and sixth tee but down a hill and through tall grass to get there.
Therefore, most people tee off in front of the clubhouse on the tenth hole and do a routing of 10-12, then 5-9 for a total of eight holes, or they play 1-12, then 6-9 for a total of 16 holes.
Mr. Doak is famous for saying he builds golf holes according to what the land gives him and the Mulligan course is no exception.
Those are minor complaints. Very minor complaints because the Mulligan course is a blast. I generally play it after playing 36 or in between rounds. You can take 1-2 drinks with you (although tough to manage but should you care?), and there are cupholders at the tees.
The routing takes you up and down hills with the following yardages:
1 – 85-145
2 – 90-115
3 – 100-150
4 – 120-140
5 – 150-180
6 – 125-155
7 – 85-180
8 - 85-150
9 - 85-95
10 – 85-145
11 – 90-120
12 – 100-115
In general, you only need three clubs unless you want to play the upper, longer tee on the seventh.
The beauty of the course is that you can drop your ball anywhere and decide to play. There are alternate loops on the scorecard indicating different yardages for different rounds. The scorecard includes a column for “bets.” It also suggests a foursome have a match with “Self” and “partner” play against “opp” and “opp.” You can even tee off the backside of a few green surrounds to the next hole instead of going to the tee for the next hole. You can even make up a few holes of your own of shorter chips to a close green if no one else is on the course.
The greens are expertly placed into dunes, or alongside dunes, or downhill in the valleys. There is an amazing variety of par 3’s. The bunkering is excellent as are the contours of the greens. Most of the greens have a substantial tilt to them. The dune forms surrounding the holes are wonderful. You can quickly get yourself into trouble if you miss the green by too much to any side as you will be in taller grass, yucca plants, or uneven sand. There are uphill par 3’s, downhill par 3’s, level par 3’s over valleys. There are a couple of greens where the tilt is amazing, including a green that has a higher plateau of six-seven feet.
You do not have a care in the world when you play the Mulligan course. Quite frankly, anyone who takes it too seriously should probably not even be at Ballyneal. There really is no competition even if betting against opponents as fun and laughs will likely result in scrapping any match. You look at the somewhat small greens which make sense for the yardage and you both chuckle, marvel, and smile. Mainly, you play the Mulligan course to celebrate, acknowledge and be thankful for the game that we love.