What is a Breakfast Ball & When Should You Use it?

Breakfast ball refers to a specific type of mulligan that offers a reboot on your first tee shot of the day if it is less than desirable.

Of course, in any form, mulligans, including breakfast balls, are not technically allowed according to golf’s official rules. Still, allowing one off the first tee is often a standard practice by even the most rules-conscious golfer during a casual or practice round.

In some cases, during a friendly round, you may even get to have one breakfast ball on the front nine and back nine. I even allow one with my students when we are out on the course for a playing lesson.

Today, I will examine this commonly used do-over in golf. If you want to learn more, keep reading.

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When To Use A Breakfast Ball

Although a breakfast ball is technically illegal, there are rules regarding when and how to use one when hacking it up on the course. If you see the irony in that last statement, then you are not a true golfer 😂

Any true golfer will have very specific rules for doing illegal things on the golf course that do not comply with the USGA and R&A. It’s tradition!

The following are the most notable rules to breaking the rules with a breakfast ball.

  • First Tee Shot of the Day: If you hit a disgustingly bad shot on the first hole, no matter what time you tee it up, your playing partner will often allow you to “have” a breakfast ball. That is only really because they might want one, too.
  • First Tee Shot With No Warm-Up: If you head to the first tee without a warm-up session on the range, you are almost guaranteed to get a breakfast ball. Most golfers will bring additional golf balls up to the tee no matter what if this is the case. Always be locked and loaded on that first tee box, my golfing friends!
  • Special Offers in Charity Events: It has even become a common practice to offer players competing in a charity scramble the opportunity to purchase mulligans or breakfast balls to raise funds for a good cause, making it a win-win situation for hackers and charities alike.

Pro Tip: If you play early in the morning, you can almost guarantee you’ll get one.

If you start your round on a par three hole, as a friend of mine did many, many years ago during a charity event, make sure you do not hole out that breakfast ball for an ace…true story. In that situation, you may have that once-in-a-lifetime shot for most called into question.

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Is A Breakfast Ball Legal?

breakfast ball meme

As I have alluded to in jest, a breakfast ball or any mulligan breaks one of golf’s primary rules…that is, not playing entirely by the rules of golf.

However, depending on the type of round you are playing, whether a casual, practice, or even a competitive round with your golf buddies, you can consciously decide to throw a few or even all the rules out. That is OK. Really, it is.

Unless you compete in an official event, there is some wiggle room. In fact, even in official events, “the committee,” which is the governing body of that specific event, will usually have modifications or local rules in play. This is not a breach of the rules; in fact, the official rules of golf allow for this.

One excellent example of a modification of the rules of golf during competition is the lift, clean, and place rule when fairways and other parts of the course are very wet.

In reality, most golfers, even those who claim to always play by the rules at all times, actually break the rules. Most of the time, unknowingly. Playing golf entirely by the rules is a tricky thing to do, especially without the aid of a rules book, rules official, or a rules committee on hand.

With all that said, however, a breakfast ball is indeed illegal according to golf’s rules. But don’t let me stop you from taking one in your next round! I will likely be doing the same anyway!

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Brendon is Class A PGA Professional and founded Little Linksters, LLC, and its nonprofit arm, the Little Linksters Association for Junior Golf Development. He won 25+ prestigious industry honors, including the 2017 PGA National Youth Player Development Award. He graduated from the PGA of America Management Program and has a handicap index of 7.8.

He has played golf for over 40 years and currently plays twice a month at the Eagle Dunes Golf Club near Sorrento, Florida. He loves Srixon clubs and plays a ZX5 driver with Z 585 irons. He's written over 60 articles on GolfSpan and specializes in sharing tips to improve your golf game. You can connect with Brendon at LinkedIn, X, IG, FB, his website, or BrendonElliott@pga.com.

  • Best score: 69
  • Favorite driver: Srixon ZX5
  • Favorite ball: Srixon Z Star
  • Favorite food at the turn: Turkey and cheese on white

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