Why It Works

A scramble is the most popular golf tournament format for groups, with several advantages: It moves play along quickly, puts minimum pressure on less experienced players, and injects a sense of teamwork and camaraderie into an otherwise individualistic sport.

How It Works

Divide players by handicap into four groups: A, B, C, and D. Create foursomes that have one player from each group. Each foursome is a team, and each team gets one score per hole. At each hole, every player hits a drive, and the team decides which is best. Each player then plays the second shot from this position. The best second shot is determined, and the third shots are played from that spot. Continue until the hole is completed. On the green, as soon as one player putts out, the team has putted out.

Keep It Moving

If you have more than 80 players in a tournament, a four-person team scramble is practically required if you want to get everyone off the course in time for your evening events.

Details and Variations

To prevent one team with a very good player from dominating, scramble rules often require each player, regardless of skill level, to contribute at least one drive (sometimes two or three) during the round. A scramble variation, known variously as a scramble start or a shamble, is when players hit their second shot from where the best drive lies, but after that, everyone plays their own ball to the end of the hole. The shamble can be a bit more satisfying for experienced players.

Choose Wisely

While the team-oriented scramble is popular, you can expect push back from competitive, low-handicap players who want to play their own ball all the way through the round. Don't choose the format before you know your group's abilities and the goals of the event.

Best Ball

An alternative team-based format is “low net ball,” also called “best ball,” which gives low handicappers a challenge — and novice players a chance to win. As in a scramble, A, B, C, and D players are distributed among the teams. But in this format, each golfer plays his or her ball through the hole on every hole. Teams calculate which team member had the lowest score on each hole. That becomes the team's score for that hole. The lowest total score wins the tournament. A variation sometimes called “two best ball” requires that teams record the two best scores in the foursome.

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