The scramble is one of the most popular types of golf games, especially for fun-style tournaments and other casual events and especially for teams of players with mixed skill levels. For those who don’t know, the standard rules of scramble-style play state that each player takes their shot, then the best shot is selected amongst the group, and each player taker their next shot from this new position, until the team has holed out. In other words, only the best shot from your group counts. Then, everybody goes and plays from the spot of this best shot.
A scramble can be fun because bad shots are often meaningless, and the team invariably scores considerably better than any of the individual members would do. As a mostly fun and casual game of golf, it also enjoys several variations and embellishments that can make it even more fun. Often, these rules are adopted only on specific holes. Some club scramble tournaments we’ve been a part of have slightly different rules. Looking to create a creative scramble-style tournament at your own club? Here is a list of ideas and rules that can be adopted on specific holes at your home course.
• Variation: The team has to hit into a designated bunker before completing the hole. This is one of our favorite variations, and we usually set it up at least once on each nine. It’s an interesting feeling and need for focus trying to hit into a fairway bunker from the tee. Other hazards or indicated areas on a hole can also be a forced intermediate goal before holing out.
• Variation: Team must use worst shot. This can get a little tedious and slow the pace of play when implemented for every single shot. So, you can stipulate the team must only use the worst tee shot, or you can stipulate the worst shot rule applies until the team is on the green. Or you can stipulate the worst putt must be taken (and thus everybody must make the team’s final putt before holing out), which changes the thought process to pure lag putts on any putt from a considerable distance.
• Variation: The use of extra wide golf holes also provides interesting possibilities. Like the idea of using worst shot on the putting green but worried about the pace of play? Worried about the pace of play especially on one particularly fraught hole on the course? Like the idea of increasing the odds of a chip-in or hole-out from distance? Cut either an 8-inch or 15-inch hole on the green.
• Variation: Use alternate shot rules for one or more holes. This is another great way to speed up the pace of play, while also adding some moments of pressure to individual players. You can also play scramble off the tee and then alternate shot.
• Variation: Each team gets a length of string, often 5-10 feet. This string can be used to improve the lie of the team throughout the round. So, if a putt comes to rest close to the hole, the distance can be measured with the string which is then cut. The team is then considered to have holed out without adding a stroke. Can also be used to get out from behind a tree, bunker, or water hazard. Ties can also be broken at the end of the day, but the team which has the longest remaining string.
• Variation: For one hole, the four-person team splits into 2 two-person scramble teams. Each mini-team then plays the hole as a scramble (or alternate shot). Then the team takes the best score (or the worst) from the two scores on the hole.
• Variation: Club restrictions. This could be almost anything. Each player must choose only 1, 2, or 3 clubs with which to play the hole. Each player must blindly draw pieces of paper to determine which club(s) they will use for the hole. Each player is only allowed to use irons on a hole (including the putting green). After every hole, or every birdie, or every bogey, one club must be removed from the bag (either one player or every player on the team). There are an essentially endless number of permutations.
• Variation: On holes in which all four players hit the fairway from the tee, the team is then granted a free shot that may be taken by only player on the team. The whole team then plays from that position as with regular scramble rules.