The Scramble Tournament Format: What Makes it so Popular and Who Knew You Could Play It So Many Ways?
The “scramble” golf tournament format often is ideal for large-scale golf events such as charity, corporate and pro-am outings. What makes a golf scramble the bee’s knees is that it allows golfers of all abilities to contribute to the team’s success. It takes all the individual pressure off and makes “group fun” the goal (especially when the course has a beverage cart!) Golfers new to the format can learn the golf scramble rules and terminology easily. The most common golf scramble format is four players, but there are several varieties and twists to the classic scramble that keep it interesting.
Four-Person Golf Scramble
The four-person scramble features teams of four golfers competing against other foursomes for the lowest 18-hole score. Each team player hits from the tee box, then the team members choose the best of the four shots for the next shot. All team members then play the second shot from that location, and again choose the best shot. Play continues in this manner until the hole is completed. The team then records its score and maintains this format for all 18 holes.
Four-Person Scramble vs. Two-Person Scramble
There is one major difference between two-person and four-person scrambles. In most two-person golf scramble tournaments, players’ handicaps are used when tabulating scores. In four-person golf scramble games, due to the number of players on each team, handicaps typically aren’t used. By the way, scramble teams covet high-handicappers as they usually give the team a chance to score low on a hole and the high-handicapper often becomes a hero. For example, if a team gets a par on a par-4 hole but gets two shots due a high-handicap from one of its players, that’s an eagle two. Teams with only low-handicappers beware!
It’s All About the Team!
The golf scramble format is often used at charity and fundraising events, many of which feature occasional golfers or those new to the game with higher handicaps. By forming teams in groups of four, it lessens the pressure on the higher handicap golfers and increases the odds that at least one player on the team will hit a quality shot in each rotation. Bonus: the scramble format also helps the pace of play. In golf, quicker always is better!
The format also plays to individual golfers’ strengths. For example, some golfers shine at hitting tee shots, while others are more proficient at chipping. Most everyone has played putt-putt at least once in their lives and can keep the ball on the ground scurrying to the hole on a real golf course as well. Plus, there’s no windmill or clown’s mouth! A four-person golf scramble gives all players a chance to shine.
Golf tournament variations of the standard four-person scramble can be implemented to make the scramble even more interesting or challenging. One way to challenge team members is to require a minimum of two tee shots used for each player during the round, which puts pressure on players to produce at least two quality drives. Another variation is to not allow any player’s shot to be used twice in a row. This eliminates a team’s ability to rely solely on one standout player. You might not be the best player, but just step up, hit that great shot and bask in the high-fives and fist bumps that follow.
Golf Scramble Strategy
First, driving order. When on the tee, you want your best player to hit last. This lets high-handicappers tee off without worrying about a mistake. Your best player is better equipped to handle the pressure if a quality drive is needed for the group. In a high risk/ high reward driving hole (like cutting a corner or clearing a hazard), again let the high-handicappers tee off first and try to get one ball safely in play. Then, the long ball hitter can go bombs away with the chance at putting the team an awesome position for their second shot.
On the green, you will want the player best with the flat stick to finish. It will allow for the weaker putters to provide a read on the line and speed, so the last golfer can drain that birdie!