golf scrambles

Golf Scramble: How It Works, Rules, How to Win

What is a Golf Scramble?

The Golf Scramble format is the popular golf format in the United States just like Stableford is the popular choice internationally . A golf scramble involves four players competing together as one team, playing from the best ball for each shot on a hole. Each player will take a turn hitting their own golf shot but the team captain will choose which golf shot the players will use.

For example, Player A might have the best drive out of the four players, if they hit it long and straight down the fairway. All four players will proceed to play an iron shot to the green now from Player A’s golf ball. They’ll go pick their other balls up and meet at Player A’s ball.

If Player B hits the best iron shot onto the green, maybe a few feet from the hole, then that would be the ball that all 4 players will proceed to and putt from.

Since each shot played is using the best ball out of the 4 golfers, scoring can go low in Golf Scrambles.

It’s not uncommon to see the winning team’s score in a golf scramble hovering around 18 under par or better. There will be a lot of birdies and eagles in golf scramble games.

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Golf Scramble Rules

A scramble is not part of the traditional rules of golf book but here are some common rules applied to scrambles:

  • Players may mark the spot of the chosen golf shot with a coin or tee.
  • Players may improve their lie except in hazards.
  • Each player must hit from within 1 club length or less of the chosen spot and must not move nearer to the hole.
  • Each player must putt from within 4 inches or less of the chosen spot and must not move closer to the hole.
  • The hole is complete when the first ball goes into the hole.
  • Each player gets only 1 attempt at the chosen spot of play, giving the team a total of 4 attempts as a unit, but no more than 1 attempt per individual. (Unless the competition event allows for mulligans)

Strategies to Help Win a Golf Scramble

Choosing Your Team

Find players who have different strengths to complement each other and make your scramble team well-rounded overall. If everyone is good at putting but nobody can hit their driver or irons, then you’ll have a tough day on the golf course. Aim for picking a team that has a long driver, a good iron player, and good short game players.

Hitting Tee Shots

Have your most accurate player hit their tee shot first. This will get the team onto the fairway and safe so that the remaining players can have a go at trying for distance. Have the longest hitting player go last so they can hit a long drive without pressure knowing that other players have safely made the fairway as a backup option.

Hitting to the Green

Just like with driver / tee shots, start off approach shots to the green by having the most accurate player go first. This gets the team safely on the green so the other players can aim at the flagstick without worry of missing the green. They’ll have less pressure knowing there is at least one golf ball already safely on the green.

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Chipping Strategy

Have your best chipper on the team go first and attempt to chip the ball close to the hole within a few feet. Once your team is safely in for a 1 putt opportunity, then have the remaining players be aggressive and attempt to chip it in.

Putting Strategy

Putting should go in order of worst putter first to best putter last. This gives the team a chance to make the putt early on with one of the lesser skilled players first. It also takes pressure off the best putter if the two-putt is already guaranteed so the best putter can focus on trying to make the 1-putt without worrying about speed and distance for the second putt if he misses.

Picking the Best Golf Shot to Play From

When picking which ball to play from, make sure to analyze the lie and analyze the angle / view of the shot.

If one drive was hit longer but has trees between the ball and the hole, then you’ll be better off choosing a golf ball with a clear view of the green even if it means sacrificing some distance.

Pick the chip shot that is easiest to get on the green. For example, consider a chip shot that requires a high flying, quick stopping flop shot because there isn’t much green between the ball and flagstick. This would be more difficult to achieve than a chip with lots of open green to land the ball on and work with.

On putts, consider playing putts that will be going uphill as opposed to downhill if two putts are both similar distance from the hole. Uphill putts are easier to play from and have a higher chance of being made since players can be more aggressive on speed.

Why Are Scrambles Common for Charity Events?

The golf scramble is a common format chosen for charity events because these events are more relaxed and easy going. Players are attending the golf event for a good cause and the entry fees are going to be used as donations to the charity so the vibe is good and players are there to have fun.

The golf rules for a Scramble are also pretty informal so the event hosts can modify them if they choose.

Charity events might offer the ability to purchase “re-do” shots which they call “mulligans”. You can pay $5 per mulligan, for example, and use these out on the golf course if your team misses a birdie putt and needs a redo attempt.

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What If Teams Tie in a Golf Scramble?

If two teams are tied at the end of the 18 hole scramble event, the event organizers should draw a random hole number from a hat and use the use the team’s lowest score on that hole as a tie-breaker.

For example, if the random number drawn is a 5, then look at the scorecard at hole 5 and see what each team scored. If one team scored birdie and the other scored par, then the team that scored birdie would win the tie-breaker and be declared winner of the golf scramble event.

If both teams scored a birdie, then repeat this process and draw a new number until a hole is found to have differing scores to declare one team as winner of the tie-breaker.

How Much Do Golf Scrambles Cost?

Signing up to play in a golf scramble event often comes with an entry fee. The entry fee will vary across events but you can expect somewhere around $30-$50 per player.

The entry fee covers the golf round fee, golf cart fee, prizes and food, as well as any money being donated to the charity if the scramble is part of a charity driven event.

Most golf scrambles have money rewards or item gifts for 1st place so there is a chance you can earn back your entry fee if your team wins the scramble.

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