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How to Play a Scramble in Golf

Updated on March 8, 2012


Let us assume that you have 10 teams of four players each. You would send two teams to tee #15, two teams to tee #16, two teams to tee #17, two teams to tee #18 and two teams to tee #1.

Why don’t you simply start on #1 through #5 tees? Good question. If you start on tees 1 – 5, the teams on #2 tee box will have to finish on #1 tee. The two teams on #3 tee would finish on #2 tee and so forth. The problem with that is they would be coming into groups that are scheduled to tee off behind your tournament and your teams would collide with the club members that booked behind you as your teams come off #18. Therefore, by starting everyone on the back nine holes, all teams will finish on 18, 17, 16, 15 and 14 thereby letting the club pro send members off of #1 as soon as your tenth team tees off from #1.

The reason you have two teams on each hole is to allow your tournament to have a team on the tee box and another team in the fairway taking their approach shot to the green. This simply allows you to have more teams in the event you wish to have thirty six teams with two teams on each of the eighteen holes. Also, it may speed up the process to some degree.

The rules are simple enough. All four members of a team will tee off from the starting tee box they are assigned to and the team will use the best ball of the four. That is not necessarily the longest drive. The longest drive might be in the ruff or in sand or lost. The longest drive might also be in the fairway, but, not as strategically located for the approach shot to the green as another shorter ball.

Therefore, all four members of the team will play their second shot using the ball that is chosen by the team captain. The captain is usually the A player. You should have an A, B, C and D player on each team based upon their handicaps or average scores.

If no player hits his shot to the green, you now must decide which ball has the best approach to the pin. Is it the one in the bunker right next to the green? In some cases, yes, it may be if you have good sand players on your team. Is it the ball located in front of the green that is lying at a downhill angle? Maybe not, as amateurs tend to chili-dip a ball that is not on a level ground. You just have to make the decision based upon your team’s abilities in chipping, pitching and sand play.

Now, your team is on the green ready to putt. Let the worse putter go first. That will show the rest any breaks in the line to the cup. Of course, he or she may hit a very poor putt and not show you anything, but, eventually as you move up the ladder of skill to the last and best putter the final putt should have the best chance of going in the hole. Naturally, you hope that someone else makes the putt and not put so much pressure on the final putter.

Scrambles normally carry a one club rule which means they can move their ball within one club length anywhere in the fairway. This allows you to always find a manicured piece of turf to hit off of. The rules can even go in your favor when the only ball in the fairway is next to a tree. With the once club rule, the ball is now playable. But, again the ball over in the ruff that has a very good angle to the pin might be considered.

Scrambles can be a lot of fun for the players. They can be a headache for the organizer.


Hit ‘em long and straight!


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