How To Play a Golf Scramble Format

scramble format for golf

What is a Golf Scramble

The scramble format in golf is most often used in charity tournament play as it is the best format to incorporate high-handicap players into a team with a couple of more seasoned players, and still be competitive in the field. A golf scramble takes a lot of the stress out of individual stroke play and from a pace of play point of view it is very helpful to get everyone around quickly and in good spirits.

Playing a casual 9 holes of golf scramble with your junior is also a fun way to get in a quick round with low pressure and get some good shot practice. Keep a track of your low round and try to beat it next time. Although it does not provide the same tournament pressure training it is a great way to keep a junior's interest up and get a quick 9 holes in. We will often go out late summer evenings and get around in about 90 minutes or less.

How Do You Play A Golf Scramble

In the traditional scramble, each golfer plays from the tee, then the group selects one drive, they mark the ball. From there, each golfer hits a second shot (within one club length no closer to the hole) and then the procedure is repeated until the ball is holed.

Strategies for Putting Together a Team

Scrambles are notorious “birdie-fests”, and even more so in charity or club tournaments where Mulligans are sold pre-round which gives the Mulligan holder an extra attempt at a particular shot if it is in the best interests of the team.

Generally on your golf scramble team it is beneficial to have at least one stronger player who can “do it all”. An ideal team for this format will have a big hitter, an accurate player and a great putter.

Order of Play 

Off the tee and through the fairway it is advantageous for the first player to put the ball into a safe place on the fairway.  So accuracy is key first off. If the first ball is in a good place the rest of the players can be a bit more aggressive with getting their ball as close to the green as possible, aiming for pins tucked close to hazards etc.

On the green a good tactic is to have the second best putter go first. This will provide an insight into speed and line of the putt for the rest of the group. The objective of the first putter is to put the putt as close as possible to the pin (ideally lag it close and try get it all the way to the hole to provide a good read). The best putter should go last and will hopefully have a good read of the putt from his/her playing partners.

golf scramble

This should never happen in a golf scramble!

Additional Notes

Note that although distance to the green is important it is not always beneficial to play the closest ball. The approach line in to the pin and lie of the ball on the fairway are important factors in determining where to hit the next shot from. For example most players would prefer to play from a 120 yard flat lie than try to hit a 100 yard shot off a downhill lie in fluffy grass!

Putting rules more relaxed than the usual USGA rules and you are generally allowed to stand directly behind your playing partners as they putt to watch the line of the ball.

It is also very important to mark your missed putts and not just tap in if your team mates are still waiting to putt. If a playing partner taps in before the rest of the team has finished putting the tap in will regard the hole as holed out and that score will count.


A scramble format is an enjoyable way of going around the course with friends or team mates. It is a game of strategy and communication and with luck some low scores!

Additional interesting reading can be found here: Best Ball, Alternate Shot, Scramble and Match Play for Non-Golfer Parents.

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