Taking a Mulligan
According to the USGA, there are three versions of David Bernard Mulligan's story.
The first version
One day Mulligan hit a poor drive off the first tee, then simply re-teed and hit another ball, telling his amused playing partners that he had taken a "correction shot." That "correction shot" soon became known as "taking a mulligan."
The second version
The ride to Mulligan's course in Montreal was an extremely bumpy one and the drive left Mulligan so shaken on the first tee that he was allowed a second shot.
The third version
One day Mulligan showed up late to the course and was so rattled on the first tee that he needed to hit a second shot.
Mulligan himself appeared to confirm these theories in a 1952 interview with Don Mackintosh, a sportswriter for the "Sudbury Star."
“One day while playing in my usual foursome, I hit a ball off the first tee that was long enough but not straight. I was so provoked with myself that on impulse I stooped over and put another ball down. The other three looked at me with considerable puzzlement and one of them asked, “What are you doing?”
Thus, " the mulligan" was born.