What Is a Breakfast Ball in Golf? A Guide to How They Work

A golfer takes a breakfast ball after his drive.

In the game of golf, there are many terms participants will hear while out on the course. A common topic on the first tee box is that a “breakfast ball” is permitted to begin the round.

So, what is a breakfast ball in golf?

A breakfast ball is a mulligan, or redo, of your tee shot on the first hole during a round of golf. Breakfast balls aren’t allowed in official competitions but are usually accepted when golfing with friends. Make sure everyone you’re playing with is on the same page before taking a breakfast ball.

A breakfast ball occurs after a poorly struck tee shot to start the round. The golfer may hit a second ball into play and use it as their first shot, with no penalty. Basically, the breakfast ball is a redo on the first shot of the day for a player.

Why Is It Called a Breakfast Ball?

The breakfast ball is not something that you will find in the Official Rules of Golf. In fact, it’s worth noting that the breakfast ball is actually illegal in official, competitive play. The idea behind the name of “breakfast ball” is that it is basically a redo on the very first shot of the golf round.

Since breakfast is the first meal of the day, the name “breakfast ball” is due to this redo occurring on the first tee shot of the round. Generally, this occurs in a casual round agreement between players, and the rules of how the breakfast ball works is determined by the individuals involved in the competition.

It is important to note that any official event will not allow for a breakfast ball, although some scrambles and other less serious events, such as those for charity, may sell the opportunity to use a breakfast ball as a fundraiser for the tournament. In these cases, there is no issue with the player taking a breakfast ball on the first tee.

What Happens When You Take a Breakfast Ball?

In a casual round or match with friends, a breakfast ball can be agreed upon before the round. If you make it permissible in your group to use a breakfast ball, players who take this opportunity will simply hit an extra tee shot off of the first tee.

Upon hitting the second shot, that ball will be the player’s official ball for the hole, the first ball does not count against their score and will not be played.

There are some groups who treat the breakfast ball as definitive, while others will allow a player to choose the best shot between their original tee shot and their breakfast ball. Since this is not an official rule of the game, it’s really up to the group you play with to discuss and agree to these specifics on what players are allowed to do with their breakfast ball.

Can You Take More Than One Breakfast Ball?

A golfer admires his tee shot.

Most of the time, it is frowned upon to take more than one breakfast ball. However, if it is agreed upon before the round with your group, you may take more than one breakfast ball. I have occasionally been in a group where players are permitted to take a couple of shots off of the first tee in an effort to start with a ball that is in bounds and playable.

Taking as many breakfast balls as you need is very time-consuming and can cause your group to fall behind the pace of play, so it is not to be assumed each game will allow this. Always consult with your group before taking your first tee shot so that you are aware of the proper expectations and etiquette among your fellow golfers.

Breakfast Ball Origin

There is much debate over the origin of the mulligan, which is basically a redo on any shot within a round, let alone the breakfast ball. However, there is some evidence that the mulligan began in Canada, and American innovations can be reviewed here.

One aspect worth noting here is that the idea of a breakfast ball is common in the United States, but not abroad. While many amusing theories exist about the original scenario and the person that coined the term, there is not much evidence for a creator of the term.

Breakfast Ball Rules

Given that the breakfast ball is not an official rule, and that it breaks the Official Rules of Golf, interpretation of the rule is vague and is at the discretion of the group that a golfer is playing with. Most commonly, a player who is unhappy with their initial tee shot of the day is able to “retee” at no stroke penalty and hit their first shot of the day over again.

Normally, the redo is treated as the first shot and is played where it lies, but some groups provide the option of taking the first ball if the breakfast ball ends up worse. Some groups will award a mulligan to use later in the round for players who do not use their breakfast ball on the first tee, but again this is not definitive and is at the discretion of the group.

Finally, all official rounds of golf will not permit any breakfast balls or mulligans whatsoever, so it is impossible to retee when playing competitively in tournaments or matches.

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Steven G.

My name is Steven and I love everything sports! I created this website to share my passion with all of you. Enjoy!

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