Golf Scramble: Rules, Set Up & How To Play

scramble golf

One of the great things about golf is the variety of formats that you can play. If you just watched the 2021 Ryder Cup, you know it is fun to watch the best players in the world use different formats. 

From the 4-ball to alternate shot (commonly known as foursomes) is a nice change from traditional stroke play. Paired with match play and rivaling countries, it’s easy to see why it’s so entertaining to watch even for non-golfers.

But even if you aren’t in a Ryder Cup, you can have some fun too by playing a tournament in a scramble golf format. This style is much different from your normal foursome stroke play and so much fun.

Keep reading to learn everything about playing scramble golf events.

What is a Scramble in Golf?

A scramble is a very fun type of tournament that is preferred by amateur golfers for a few reasons.

First, it yields very low scores, which is great as you and your group are making birdies all day. And maybe even some eagles too. 

Second, it doesn’t put too much pressure on a specific golfer. Not everyone has to have their best stuff to score well, which is great if you have a great friend who isn’t the best golfer. 

Plus, scrambles usually have separate competitions like: 

  • Longest drives.
  • Longest putt made.
  • Closest to the pin on one or several par 3s. 

Plus, there is usually food served afterward to present awards, announce winners, and possibly do a raffle as well. 

Finally, they’re usually put on for a good cause like a charity or specific project. It’s always good to know that your green fees are going toward something or someone in need. 

Scramble Golf Rules 

So how does a scramble work in golf?

A scramble can be a 2-man or 4-man event. 

For this example, let’s assume it’s a 4-man event, as it’s a more common format in most scramble tournaments.

Like normal stroke play, each player tees off on every hole. Once you all hit your drives, you find the best one for your approach shot. Usually, it’s the one that is closest to the hole, but the lie and angle to the pin also play a factor as well.

Get Your Drives In

Once you decide on the best tee shot, the other three players pick up their balls and all four players will play from the best drive. The ball is marked and each player usually gets to place their ball between one grip length to one club from that location. 

Depending on the event, there might be a certain number of drives that each player must use as well. A common example is that each player must use 3-4 of their tee shots. 

This ensures that one person who hits it long isn’t the only golf ball they use all day off the tee. It also makes things much more interesting as well. Because if you’re coming down the final stretch of holes and someone hasn’t met their drive quota, it’s pressure time for them. 

After the drive, each player hits their second shots and the same process is repeated until you’re on the putting surface. 

Once you get on the green, this is where the fun happens. After you find the putt that is closest or easiest, you mark the ball and each player will putt. If someone makes it, then the hole is over. 

But if the first few guys miss the putt, the pressure gets added to the next person to drain the putt. The one advantage is that you get to watch the players in front of you to see how the putt breaks and evaluate the speed. 

Finally, some tournaments allow each player or each group a certain number of mulligans that you can buy in advance. These are a “redo” of the shot before and second chance to make the putt or hit a certain shot.

Make sure to always clarify the rules on mulligans in advance. 

Other Types of Formats

While the scramble is a great way to mix it up, there are some other types of tournaments that are fun too. Here is a quick overview of them in case you want even more of a challenge.

  • Four Ball (Best Ball): In this 2-man format, you each play your own golf ball and take the lowest score of the two. I’ve seen some specialty events where if you both make a score under par, each count. For example, if you both make birdies, instead of counting the hole at -1, it counts as -2. While it’s not the traditional format, it’s a ton of fun.
  • Shamble: In this format, each player tees off and the best drive is selected, just like a scramble. Then, each player plays from that spot and continues to play their ball into the hole as normal stroke play. 
  • Chapman: This is another 2-man event that is a very entertaining format. Both players tee off on every hole. Then, each player hits the other player’s ball for the second shot. After both second shots are hit, the group decides on one ball, then alternates until the hole is finished. 
  • Alternate Shot (Foursomes): This is arguably the hardest format of any type of event and a step-up from a chapman style. In an alternate shot format, you and one other player team up – this is not meant for four players, despite the confusing name. 

If you can find a tournament that does 6-6-6 (6 holes of three separate formats), those are the most fun! 

Wrapping Up

Hopefully, you have a better understanding of what is scramble in golf and how to get started. Find an event near you, grab some friends, and make a ton of birdies as the scores tend to go super low.

Whether you play a 2-man or a 4-man event, I know you will have a great time. Once you see someone in the fairway, swing hard and try to get an even better look for your team into the green.

Finally, don’t leave a putt short – pars won’t do the job in this format. Try to hole out everything on or around the green for the best chance to win. 

Do you like scramble golf events? If so, do you prefer 2-man or 4-man events?

Let us know in the comments below!

Michael Leonard

Michael Leonard

Michael Leonard is a full-time writer, author, creator of Wicked Smart Golf and +1 handicap amateur golfer. He left his corporate, national sales career in 2017 to pursue entrepreneurship and professional golf; since then, he’s competed in 160+ tournament days and went to Q-school in 2019.

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