Golf Scramble Format (Tips To Win and Rules)

Golf is known as an individual sport but can definitely incorporate camaraderie between players in certain competitions.

Scrambles are one of those. They are some of the most popular golf formats for foursomes.

A scramble allows teams to compete against each other and spice things up, rather than just participating in traditional stroke play with every player competing for themselves.

We’ll explain how to play a golf scramble in this article.

What Is A Golf Scramble?

The question often asked is ‘how does a golf scramble work?’

A scramble is a competition played with a team of four golfers. Each player plays their own ball throughout the game.

The players then decide which shot to take from the drive, all the way to the final putt.

This same selection for which shot they prefer continues throughout the entire round.

Scrambles are extremely popular among charity golf tournaments due to the less strenuous and more flexible rules allowed.

There is less pressure put on the golfers playing in the group rather than people shooting an individual score.

Making mistakes in a scramble tends to be less embarrassing and costly than during stroke or match play. Teammates are able to balance and help each other out.

📋 Keep in mind: Scrambles are quicker to play than other four-person games since you won’t have to be searching for your ball and taking a drop if you hit it out of bounds or in a hazard.

Golf scramble handicap rules are taken into consideration in different games. We will delve into this later in the article.

How To Play A Golf Scramble: Rules Explained

Scrambles are individually ruled depending on the organizer.

We will showcase different types of scrambles in the next section that explain different variations of the games with different rules.

The USGA does not mention scrambles within their rule book.

The organization focuses on match and stroke play rules.

That not only lets organizers be more lenient with the rules but it also allows golfers to enjoy themselves rather than having pressure on them thanks to the team aspect of the game mentioned earlier.

Most scrambles do use USGA rules when it comes to putting a ball in the hazard, hitting it out of bounds or in the bunker.

The general rules of a scramble are the same as mentioned in the previous section.

An additional aspect of some scrambles is that certain organizers sell mulligans for a specific price per mulligan before the round.

Many of these mulligans are often used on putts that are nearly missed in order to give the next putter good odds to knock it in.

The money for the mulligan often goes to the overall prize money or to a side pot such as the longest drive or closest to the hole competition.

📢 Need To Know: These competitions can be measured by a volunteer or staff member from the course but sometimes are recorded by the participants themselves.

Golf Scramble Format Variations

There are different styles of golf scrambles. Many are similar but have their own specific rules to them. Below are a few different variations.

Texas Scramble

The Texas scramble is very much like the standard scramble format.

The rules are also nearly the same.

The only difference is that in a Texas scramble each member of the team is forced to play at least four different drives during the round.

Shotgun Scramble

A shotgun scramble is a normal scramble.

The only change in the rules is that it has a shotgun start where different groups start on different tee boxes all at the same time during the “shotgun start.”

Las Vegas Scramble

This 4-team format brings Vegas to the golf course. Almost literally.

A 6-sided die is rolled every hole to rule which player’s drive will be used. Therefore, hitting in the fairway or out of trouble is crucial.

2 Man Scramble vs 4 Man Scramble

The difference between a 2-man scramble and 4-man scramble golf is that there are only two players per team compared to four players per team. 

Another difference is that in 2-man scrambles players’ handicaps are used when calculating scorers to make the results fair.

With 4-man scrambles, there are so many people involved with different skill sets, handicaps aren’t usually taken into consideration.

Scramble Strategy In Golf

Many golfers believe that they know the perfect scramble strategy and try to assemble a team that fits their mold of the strategy.

The basic and simplistic strategy that works more often than not, assembles the combination of three types of golfers:

  • First, a good iron player that can hit it straight, keep it in play and get in scoring positions.
  • Second, a player who can putt well and close out holes with birdies or save pars. (Even bogeys)
  • Third, a bomber off the tee who can leave players a wedge or short iron in, allowing them to knock it close. For a par 5, it’s crucial to allow yourself and your teammates the option to try and reach the green in two.

It’s usually expected for most players to have a decent short game, but having a player who can chip it close and allow for up and down par saves on par-4s and birdie looks on par-5s is a valuable kind of player too.

Having each of these kinds of players can help a team go low and take down the trophy or prize.

Another strategy that is not often discussed among simple teams in smaller scrambles is the order for each teammate teeing off.

The order of the players teeing off can make a monumental difference.

The most accurate golfer should tee off first because if they reach the fairway, then the longer hitters can try more aggressive lines and approaches to the green and try and bomb it further.

That’s why the furthest driver should tee off last.

The most accurate player should also hit first from the fairway. If they attain a green in regulation, this allows the next teammates to take a more direct line and be more aggressive to the pin. 

📋 Keep in mind: It’s obviously nice to have players on your team who are the complete package and can drive, chip and putt, but more often than not one will specialize in a certain category.

Another piece of important advice for teams in a scramble is when on the green, if in a foursome, the second-best putter should putt first.

That way, they can have a good chance of sinking it but also get it close thanks to their good feel.

The next two members of the team should try and make it with the best putter going last thanks to their ability of green-reading and seeing the previous three-putts and the lines.

💡 Golfible Tip: If the tournament offers mulligans, make sure you use them all throughout the competition.

You don’t want to walk off the 18th green with a mulligan or two left in your pocket.

Even if you won the tournament, you could’ve won by more and if you were to lose by a stroke or two those mulligans could have changed the outcome and will surely make you feel full of regret.

Tips For Organizing A Successful Scramble Round

Organizing a scramble depends on a couple of factors.

If you’re trying to set up a small money game with 3-6 groups, you can easily book tee times depending on if it’s a 2-man scramble or 4-man.

📋 Keep in mind: If you’re trying to host a large charity event or tournament with a high number of teams competing for a large pot, you will likely need to call in advance or rent out the course for a certain fee.

Gathering players for a scramble shouldn’t be a difficult feat since most players enjoy playing with friends and feel less pressure in a scramble rather than traditional individual stroke play.

Scramble vs Best Ball: What Are The Differences

Team scrambles and best-ball competitions are quite similar with the main difference being in scrambles, team captains or the collective group decides on the best shot to play.

In best ball, every golfer hits their own ball per hole and the score for the team is the low number by an individual team member on the hole.


Who should putt first in a scramble?

Generally, the second best putter should always putt first while the best putter putts last to ensure that he gets the most time to analyze the line and speed. The best putter can generally handle the pressure if everyone else misses their putts.

Do you use handicaps in a scramble?

Yes, you can set up the handicap in a scramble using the handicaps of the team members. To set up a team handicap[1]  take 20 percent of the worst player’s course handicap, 15 percent of the second worst player’s, 10 percent of the second best player’s, and 5 percent of the best player’s handicaps and add them together.

What is the difference between a scramble and captains choice?

There is no difference between a Captain’s Choice and a scramble.”Captain’s Choice” tournaments are another name for the scramble format. Scramble is the most frequently used format at charity and corporate tournaments while a Captain’s Choice tournament is a team event between club members with four-person teams.

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Lawrence Smelser has been part of the Golfible writing staff since 2019 and is a freelance golf journalist. Smelser has covered the PGA Tour including the U.S. Masters with He holds a journalism Bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M and a Master’s journalism degree from the University of North Texas. Learn more about our team at Golfible on our About Us page.

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