If you are a complete newbie on the golf course, here’s a tip: a golf scramble is not the breakfast you enjoy before a day on the course.
If that is what you were secretly thinking, it’s probably a good idea to continue reading and find out what a golf scramble is actually all about.
What is a scramble in golf?
Simply put, a scramble is one format in which the game of golf is played. Better ball is another example of a different format. The scramble format is for recreational purposes only, and is not played in professional games.
Golf is usually an individual sport, but a scramble allows players to play together in teams – and it is a fun way of doing so since everyone still gets a chance to play.
So, how exactly does it work? When playing a scramble, each player in the team hits their tee shot. The team then decides which shot was the best. The position of this ball is marked, and the players retrieve their balls.
For each shot after that, each player then plays from the best ball. This is repeated for each shot, until a ball is shot.
A scramble is a fast, fun and strategic game that usually results in lower scores. Does it have any other benefits apart from allowing you to play in a team?
It does indeed. A scramble is a great way for amateurs to compete alongside, and learn from, more experienced golfers. It also allows golfers to take risky shots that they would not normally try.
Scramble golf is a popular choice for fundraisers and other events. It is less intimidating, and more welcoming, to golfers of all skill levels. Now the event can attract more people, rather than just highly skilled golfers.
The rules of a golf scramble
Scramble rules are informal, and not covered in the official rules of golf. The organizers of a scramble tournament often adjust the rules as they see fit to ensure an enjoyable event.
Commonly used ‘rules’ for a golf scramble include:
- The team picks the best ball and plays all their shots from its position.
- In case of shots off of the green, each player must play within a scorecard of where the ball stopped. Sometimes a club length is allowed rather than a scorecard.
- For shots on the green, each player must play within a putter’s head of where the ball stopped. Teams can leave a mark close to where the ball stopped to help them easily identify the spot.
The organizer should decide in advance whether mulligans (an extra shot allowed after a poor shot) will be allowed, and ensure that the players are aware of the decision before the tournament kicks off.
In order for a scramble tournament to be fair, the makeup of each team needs to be taken into account. Ideally each team should have a similar number of good and not-so-good players.
Having at least one highly skilled golfer on each team will provide the team with a constant flow of good shots and good positions from where to hit.
Strategies for playing a successful scramble
A scramble is mostly done for fun, but let’s be honest, winning is fun too. The Verandah Golf Club offers these plans to help you improve your team’s performance:
- The way you put together your team can drastically affect your outcome. It will be to your advantage to have an accurate player, a big bomber and a good putter.
Bonus points if one player can do all of this.
- Once you have chosen your team, think about the order in which they play their shots.
It’s generally a good idea to have the most accurate player play first. If this player makes a good shot, it allows the other players to make more aggressive swings.
- Your longest hitter should go last. This allows him to take a pressure-free swing to try to get the ball down the fairway if one of the other members finds the fairway.
- If your accurate player hits a good shot from the fairway, the others can take chances. On a par 5, they can try to reach the green in two. On a par 4, they can attempt more aggressive lines to the pin.
When the pressure is off to hit a good shot to save the team, players sometimes hit amazing shots.
- Players can usually stand behind one another when they putt on the green. The second best putter should putt first as this lets the other players observe the line of the putt.
Seeing the line of the putt makes it easier for each of the following platers to hole out.
- The best putter should go last. This way, they see multiple putts, providing them with a good chance of knocking the ball in the hole.
- Have your weakest putters play in the middle, as this allows them a low-risk shot.
- Be clever about how you use mulligans. Shorter putts, wedge shots and chips provide the best results rather than a 30-foot putt or a tee shot.
- Use all of your mulligans.
- Keep in mind that the shot closest to the hole is not necessarily the best option to play. Look for the ball that allows the best chance of success on the next shot.
How scoring works in a scramble
There is only one ball, and therefore only one score counts per hole for each team. The best score for each hole is added up before determining the rating of a scramble team from the total of the best shots.
The team with the lowest total score for the round wins the tournament.
Should there be a tie, the organizers can draw a random hole number and then use the team’s lowest score in that particular hole to determine the winner.
The scramble format is often confused with the better ball format. In a best ball, each player plays their own ball throughout each hole.
The team’s score for the hole is the lowest score shot by a single team member on that hole. This format is a bit more serious.
If you are looking for something more relaxed and ‘user-friendly’, the scramble is the way to go.