How to Play Scramble

By Herm Otto

Scramble is the golf game format most commonly used for group outings. It allows players of all skill levels, and both genders, to play together without the need for handicaps for individual scoring purposes. And every player has opportunities throughout the event to contribute to their team's score.
The most common scramble format for group outings is four-person teams. But the scramble format can be used for three- or two-person teams as well. The rules and format remain the same regardless of the number of players on a team. The USGA "Rules of Golf" govern play. With four-person teams, each team normally plays each hole alone (without a competing four-person team).
Each of the team members hits the current shot, from the tee, through the green to the first putt to hole out. For each shot, all team members hit their own ball from the same ball location. The location is selected as the best position for the current shot from among all of the team members' ball locations achieved with their previous shots.

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderately Easy
Step 1
Determine the order of play for the tee shots at the first tee box. Strategy will usually have a conservative, accurate hitter up first to achieve a safe shot in the fairway. Stronger, longer hitters are usually last so they can go for the distance without fear of a stray shot if the previous safe shot has been achieved. If it has not previously been achieved, the last player must play safe and just get one in the fairway.
Step 2
Locate and examine the lie location of each team member's tee shot ball and the distance and trajectory needed for the next shot from each lie location. Also determine if any obstacles will interfere with, or need to be overcome by, the next shot from each lie location. If, by remote chance, all team members hit their balls out of bounds, the team receives a penalty stroke, and all team members tee off again.
Step 3
Agree (among the team members) on the one best lie location, and select it as the location to hit the second shot from (assuming at least one of the first tee shots is in play). Mark the location with a golf tee. All team members may now pick up their balls, clean them and move them all to the selected lie location, regardless of where each of their first shot locations were.
Step 4
Determine the order of play again. For fairway shots, the strategy is much the same as for tee shots. Each team member takes the second shot from the same (one) selected location. Continue this process through the green for each team shot on each hole.
Step 5
Once on the green, determine the order of play for the putts. Select your best putter (player) to be the last to putt. The worst putter should go first so the run of the putt can be read by the remaining team members. If it takes the putts of all team members, the last player to putt has had the opportunity to learn the break and speed of the green from the previous team member putts. If all miss the putt, the process continues with each player attempting the next putt from the selected best location of the previously missed putts.
Step 6
Complete the hole by holing a putt. The team is done whether the first or last player holed the putt. The team score for the hole is the number of shots (one per shot location), including penalties (if any) that the team took to hole out. The team score for the round is the total of the team's scores for the holes played (normally 18 holes). There are no individual scores.

Tips & Warnings

Because a scramble format usually results in team scores close to or below par, limit any team's hole score to a bogey (one over par) if you want to accelerate the pace of play. Scramble team collective skill levels can be balanced if teams are assembled with comparable total handicaps (if the individual handicaps are known). Two four-person teams are equalized if a 10 + 15 + 20 + 30 = 75 team is competing with a 2 + 13 + 25 + 35 = 75 team (based on totals of individual handicaps). To avoid having a low-handicap golfer hitting all of one team's tee shots, the format can require that two tee shots from each team member be used for team play within each team's round. Including a woman on your team who can drive the ball long and straight can be very helpful to your team because the woman will normally be able to play from the women's tee box (closer to the hole than the men's tee box).
Because a scramble format usually results in team scores close to or below par, limit any team's hole score to a bogey (one over par) if you want to accelerate the pace of play.
Scramble team collective skill levels can be balanced if teams are assembled with comparable total handicaps (if the individual handicaps are known). Two four-person teams are equalized if a 10 + 15 + 20 + 30 = 75 team is competing with a 2 + 13 + 25 + 35 = 75 team (based on totals of individual handicaps).
To avoid having a low-handicap golfer hitting all of one team's tee shots, the format can require that two tee shots from each team member be used for team play within each team's round.
Including a woman on your team who can drive the ball long and straight can be very helpful to your team because the woman will normally be able to play from the women's tee box (closer to the hole than the men's tee box).
If you are not the last player to attempt a putt, never tap in your missed putt. In scramble, that counts as a team stroke and play for your team on that hole is done.

About The Author

Herm Otto is an architect and was a university instructor for over 25 years. He is also an avid golfer who began golfing 10 years ago. As a Demand Studios writer, Otto writes golf and travel articles for GolfLink. He now resides in Arizona.

ACTIVITY FEED

Yvonne H. joined GolfLink

Mario M.  Scored 97 at  Bunker Hill Princeton, New Jersey

Bruce H.  just went PRO!

Kathleen D.  just went PRO!

Bill D.  just went PRO!

View Activity Feed

Video of the Day
Making Golf Fun For Kids Watch Video>>

Related Articles

Article Image Pro Golfer's Secrets: Patrick Reed

Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images Patrick Reed is a merc...

Article Image Pro Golfer's Secrets: Brooke Henderson

  photo courtesy LPGA Tour Brooke Henderson is a Canadian ...

Article Image Pro Golfer's Secrets: Sergio Garcia

photo credit: Sergio Garcia Official Website Sergio Garcia is a Sp...

Article Image Pro Golfer's Secrets: Bubba Watson

photo credit Augusta National Golf Club Gerry Lester Watson Jr.,...

Article Image Pro Golfer's Secrets: Tommy Fleetwood

photo courtesy Tommy Fleetwood Official Website Tommy Fleetwood ...

View All Related Articles