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The Mulligan by Wally Armstrong & Ken Blanchard

Wally ArmstrongThe Wally Armstrong File:


Review of The Mulligan (w/ Ken Blanchard)

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The Advocate

The Mulligan
by Wally Armstrong & Ken Blanchard

Reviewed by Marshall Hughes

"[The authors] have written an entertaining, yet insightful book. They clearly believe, as the Old Pro says, 'that golf and life do have a great deal in common' and that 'golf has a way of showing what is going on inside of someone.'"

Paul McAlister has some problems with his life. Despite being a rich, successful businessman with all the resources he needs, his life isn't any better than his golf game. Both are off course and spinning out of control. It is only when he humiliates himself on the course that he is ready to learn from an old pro. Will his life and his tee shots ever start straightening out?

Paul McAlister is not unlike many successful, powerful businessmen. Ivy league-educated and founder of a multimillion dollar business, the 45-year-old McAllister has conquered just about everything, and what he hasn't conquered he has bought, led or become president of.

Yes, Paul McAlister is not unlike many successful, powerful businessmen. Divorced from his college sweetheart and alienated from his only child, McAllister has forfeited the important things in life and is chasing after happiness with too many "important things" to do and too little time to do them.

Even his beloved golf game gives him all the joy of a triple bogey. One day, while playing in a Pro-Am with Davis Love III, McAllister blows his cool after gagging a four-foot putt, and then heaves his putter into the green-side lake. Faced with having to finish his round using his two iron or maybe his driver as a putter, McAllister rolls up his pants and wades into the lake to fish out his putter.

After coming out of the water, he is approached by Love (a famous, real-life golfer still on the PGA tour in case you didn't know), who says, “Paul, you aren't good enough to get that mad. What you just did . . . may have as much to say about where you are with your life as your game.” Love then advises him to have a visit with Willie Dunn, usually referred to as “The Old Pro,” who is pushing 90 years old but still sharp as a tack.

The bulk of the book is about McAllisters' visits with The Old Pro and the lessons he learns, lessons obstentiously about golf but actually more applicable to the game of life for McAllister, the reader and any unnamed TitleTrakk reviewer who just happens to have tossed a club or two in anger.

While "The Mulligan" (a golf term meaning the opportunity to take a shot, often the first shot of a golf round, over again) is probably most appreciated by golfers, it can without doubt be appreciated by anybody at any point on the knowledge/ignorance scale of golf.

The Old Pro's first bit of advice is simple: life is all about relationships. It is from this simple idea that the rest of the book blooms. It's hard to argue with any part of The Old Pro's advice. His insights, always applicable to life and usually with great spiritual value, are culled from a deep understanding of the human heart. Scattered throughout the book are such gems as:

# If your self-worth is a function of your performance plus the opinion of others and neither of these are predictable, then your self-worth is up for grabs every day.

# The past can help explain the present, but is should never be an excuse for the future.

# The problem with being in a rat race is that even if you win the race, you are still a rat (from the wisdom of Lily Tomlin).

Even before things are spelled out for them towards the end of the book, readers may realize that this book is about Who offers the ultimate mulligan in life, how that mulligan is always available for the asking and just how important that mulligan really is to our eternal life. To show the power of mulligans and the freedom one can receive from them, the Old Pro has McAllister play a round of golf with unlimited mulligans. McAllister greatly enjoys this round and, not surprisingly, scores his best round ever. What if God gave us unlimited mulligans?

At only 140 pages, co-authors Wally Armstrong (who has competed in over 300 PGA tour events) and Ken Blanchard (author of "The One-Minute Manager)" have written an entertaining, yet insightful book. They clearly believe, as The Old Pro says, "that golf and life do have a great deal in common" and that "golf has a way of showing what is going on inside of someone."

Armstrong, Blanchard and The Old Pro have shown what it takes to be truly powerful and successful in life, and it doesn't involve an Ivy League education and owning a multi-million dollar business.

Marshall HughesMarshall Hughes is a former sports writer for the Honolulu Advertiser. For most of the past 22 years he has taught English in Japan. He has taught at the university level in America, Japan and China. Among his hobbies are sports, traveling and photography. He has been to 41 countries and is always hoping to go somewhere new. He is an award-winning photographer in both Japan and America. His bi-lines include The Washington Post, The Pacific Daily News (Guam), The Contra Costa Times and several sports publications.