The Golf Scramble: The Rules & Strategy to Dominate

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Although golf is difficult, scrambles make it a lot more enjoyable. 

A scramble tournament is a great way to improve your game and/or to have fun with your friends. As you likely know, golfers are inherently competitive – always wanting to win every time we tee it up. Sometimes you have to work together to beat other players in a tournament.

There are many options. golf games to choose from, scrambles are arguably the most fun. The scores are low, the pressure isn’t as intense, and it’s a great day with your friends. 

Read this entire post before you sign up to a scramble tournament. This will help you and your team succeed.

Golf Scramble 101 

Scrambles are fun and entertaining. Here’s how it works on a par 4… each team member (which typically is a foursome, but can on exception be played with 5 golfers) hits their tee shot on the hole.

The players then choose the best tee shot, and each player places their golf ball within one club length. Some events only allow one scorecard length. Each member of the team will hit their approach shot, and the same process continues until the hole has been completed.

All players will chip if your team misses putting green. If you find the green, all players will chip.

You get four chances to attempt each shot.

Hit a good shot and you’re a hero for the team (especially if you’re the longest hitter). The score is determined if someone hits the putt before everyone else does. 

This format is great if you are hosting charity events or events with beginner golfers. Each group begins on a hole in a shotgun begin and there are often other competitions such as closest to the pin or longest drive.

They might also be eligible for hole in one competitions, longest putt awards, or other prizes depending on the event. Some events require that the team have different handicaps, such as a low handicap, two mid-handicap and one high handicap golfer. 

Golf Scramble Rules 

If you’re like most golfers I’m sure you’ve asked what are the rules of a scramble in golf? Or, what are the rules for a 4-man scramble in golf? 

A scramble is very similar to traditional stroke play. Each player tees off at the hole (behind tee markers), and the best drive is chosen. 

After your team has decided on the best drive, you mark it and each player will place a club length from the hole. This process repeats itself until you’re on the green. 


Once you’re on the putting green, the ball is marked to the side of the ball and each player putts until the hole is complete. One golfer is required to make the putt. Practice putts are allowed after the hole has been completed. However, this can slow down play so be careful. There are no “gimme” putts either.

Players can play in any order but it’s a good idea to let the worst putter putt their golf ball first. This gives the team the best chance of reading the putt based upon the roll of their first putt.

If necessary, then go to the second best putter. Keep the same order if you have momentum after several holes of birdies!

No More Drives

A minimum number of drives per player can make scramble golf more difficult. The number of drives required varies depending on the event. Three drives is a common requirement, while four is the norm for some tournaments.

Having a minimum drive number ensures a group can’t rely on one player in the group for the majority of your shots. Plus, it adds pressure later in the round when your group needs to use one player’s tee shots, regardless of if they hit a good shot.

They dont require that each player take a minimum number approach shots or putts.  


Mulligans is one Golf terms that everyone loves since they give you a “redo” on the previous shot. While they aren’t allowed in most tournaments, mulligans are a regular occurrence in scrambles. But you can’t just drop a ball if none of you hit a good drive or miss an easy tap in putt.

Mulligans must be purchased prior to the round. These are often sold in packs and paid for in cash. 

Scrambles for Cheating 

Cheating is one of the downsides of golf. There are four people in your group so there is no one watching your score. It’s an unfortunate reality that people regularly cheat in these events and write down a lower score than they earned. 

Also, some scrambles have a bogey max rule which means you can’t score more than a bogey on the hole. Once the group has reached their limit, they can move on to the next hole. 

Scrambles in Other Versions 

Like most golf games (Wolf, best-ball, etc.) There are many variations. These are the most popular:

  • Texas Scramble: Each player must contribute four drives. 
  • Las Vegas Scramble: The group carries an 8-sided die and rolls it on a tee box to determine which drive it is.
  • Florida Scramble: This format demands that the player whose drive has been used to sit out and not hit their next shot, must use it. 
  • Bramble: This is part scramble and part best-ball (also known by a shamble). 
  • Ambrose: This scramble creates a handicap for the team that factors into the best score in the net division.  

Golf Scramble Success – How to Win Scrambles 

Now that you have a better understanding of the format and rules, let’s get into strategy. While the rules don’t change much, the strategy is what matters in shooting lower scores. 

Tee Box Strategy 

First, let’s start with the Tee box strategy

This golf format is all about distance. You want to get as many wedges and as short irons onto the greens as you can. You can also get par 5s in 2 shots and better chances of making eagle putts. 

For playing order, it’s a good idea to let the most accurate player hit first to get a ball in the fairway before other shots. This will allow the rest of the group to swing harder or take more aggressive shots.

A scramble is Not the time to play it safe off the tee with 3W or hybrids.

Scores are low in scrambles so it’s essential to hit bombs for extra distance and make driver your best friend. This team format requires a long hitter and a good golfer.

If you’re between a drive that is 5-10 yards longer but in the rough vs. a drive in the fairway, I would opt for the fairway shot. For most players, hitting shots from the fairway is much easier and the spin is a lot more consistent. But if a ball is 30-40 yards in the rough and it’s not too thick, opt for the longer drive instead. 

Approach Shot Strategy 

After picking the best shot off the tee, it’s time to dial in your Approach shot strategy

Approach shots should be within 150 yards of the pin. Unless there are a lot of problems near the pin, the closer you can get to the pin, the better. 

If you’re outside 150 yards, you still want to play more aggressively than normal but getting on the green is important. There’s nothing worse than missing a green in a four-person scramble!

Like driving, it’s a good idea to have the first or second golfer play it safer. This gives other players more freedom to hit their shots with more aggression. A similarity to driving, players who are better at judging wind and other conditions tend to be the last to hit the ball. 

Around the Greens 

Finally, don’t forget about your course strategy around the greens too.

For the most part, you shouldn’t have a ton of missed greens in regulation (if it’s a 4-man event). You must hit greens and make a lot of birdie putts to be able to play well in scrambles.

If you miss the green, chip shots can be used to try and get around it. If you’re in a bunker or thick rough just make sure you give yourself an easy par putt.

When putting together a strategy, remember to be aggressive!

You want the ball to go in the hole. Putts that are not shot have 0% chance of being successful. You want to give your group a clear view of the break and speed of each putt.

It’s common for the rest of the golfers to stand behind the first putter to get a better look at the putt. The order of play doesn’t matter but it’s common for the most clutch, best putter to go last to see how everyone’s putts react. 

If mulligans are permitted and your team bought them, putting will be the best time to use them. Don’t waste them on drives or approach shots unless it’s your final hole. The best return on investment is when they are used on the greens. 

FAQs about Golf Tournaments 

Are you looking for more information about scramble events and how to play? Continue reading to find out more about scramble events so you can win.

What is the difference between a best ball and a scramble in Golf?

Personally, I believe that the names should change to identify these events. Normal stroke play golf is the best ball format. Each golfer plays their ball for each hole. The lowest score (“best ball”) is the one that counts.

But I always wonder why scrambles aren’t called best ball tournaments? It would make the most sense since you choose the best ball for each shot. Before signing up for the tournament, confirm all details.  

What is the difference between a scramble and a shamble?

Scrambles allow each player to play from the exact same spot on the hole. A shamble allows each player to tee off and the best ball is selected (like in a scramble). Each player plays their ball for the remainder of the hole as normal, making it more difficult to score low.

Click here for more information about playing shambles. 

What is a 2-man scramble on golf?

A 2-man scramble in golf is almost the same as a 4-man one. The only difference is the number and type of players. Since only two players are in each group, it’s harder to go as low (unless both players are great golfers) as you don’t have as many options on each shot. 

All the rules stay the same in this type of event and you’re paired with another 

Is it possible to have a hole in one of the scramble holes?

It counts! A hole in one is an incredible feat in golf and around the globe. You might have to buy everyone a drink if they dont have insurance. 

Some tournaments have lucrative hole-in one prizes (cars or cash, for example). If they have a reward, they will always have someone on the green to verify that hole in one. 

How do handicaps work in a scramble environment?

Most scrambles don’t allow Handicaps as the tournament already yields low scores. Event organizers have to add handicaps to the mix. 

Final Thoughts

Many golfers love this type of event as it’s more fun than a regular round, especially if you’re a long hitter. Even if you have beginners, everyone can still enjoy the day in a scramble. It’s much more fun than something like alternate shot.

If you have four great golfers in your group, get ready for some magic. There’s nothing better than going low with your friends and chasing down the leaders. 

Remember, in scrambles, the winning teams go lower!

To win, you need to chase birdie and eagles – this isn’t the time to play it safe, lay up, or hit the middle of the green. Play aggressively when approaching the hole and with your drives. You should always get every putt to the hole on the putting green.

Play hard, putt well, and enjoy the day with golf buddies. 

One Response

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