7 Key Tips to Create a Winning Golf Scramble Strategy
Written by Brittany Olizarowicz

Britt O has been playing golf since the age of 7. Almost 30 years later, she still loves the game, has played competitively on every level, and spent a good portion of her life as a Class A PGA Professional. Britt currently resides in Savannah, GA, with her husband and two young children. Current Handicap: 1

Updated on December 13, 2023

Golf scrambles are fun. They give you a way to play golf with friends and enjoy your time on the course without the same stress as you would find when playing your own ball the entire way.

As great as the golf scramble can be from the perspective of fun and games, there is also a bit of strategy involved.

If you want to win your next scramble tournament, here are the tips I have used to bring home quite a few golf scramble trophies through the years!

 

Background: The Rules of a Golf Scramble Tournament

The basic scramble is most commonly played; however, there are times when you may have a shamble, Texas Scramble, or even a Florida Scramble as your format of choice during a tournament. Here is what you need to know about the rules of a golf scramble tournament.

Traditional Scramble

In a traditional scramble, every player tees off. After the tee shots, the best is selected, and all players hit their shots from this location. This process is continued until you get the ball in the hole. The great thing about a traditional scramble is that you won’t need to play your ball if you hit a bad shot.

Texas Scramble or Shamble

The Texas Scramble or Shamble is where all golfers tee off, and the best shot is selected. From this point, all players will then play their own ball all the way into the hole. With this format, you play a bit more of your golf ball than you do with the Traditional Scramble format.

Florida Scramble

With a Florida Scramble, all golfers tee off, the best shot is selected, and then only three players hit their second shots. After these three shots are hit, the better one is chosen, and the player who hits that shot has to sit out. The process is then continued until the ball is in the hole.

 

7 Tips for a Winning Golf Scramble Strategy

Winning a golf scramble is a lot of fun. It’s a great way to play with a group of people that all have different handicaps but still get to be competitive together. When you play in a scramble, it’s all about being a great team player.

Don’t get overly worried about your own game; see what you can do to help out your team. Even the highest handicap players often have a chance in the scramble format to save the day and make their score count for the team.

1. Determine an Order

The first thing I recommend doing is establishing an order of play. You must decide who is going to go first on every hole. I like to keep the order the same throughout the entire round of golf.

Most of the time, the best way to do the order is to have the highest handicapped golfers tee off first. When high handicappers tee off and have a good shot, it eases some pressure from the lower handicap golfers.

These lower handicap golfers can now swing freely and get as much power as they can. Once a drive is in the fairway, you will have no trouble working to get some extra distance. If that doesn’t go well and the drive ends up in a bunker or the rough, you still have a straight shot to choose from.

2. Best Putter Putts Last

In addition to making sure that the best hitter goes last off the tee, make sure that the best putter goes last. When you are the best putter, your chance of making the putt is the highest.

If everyone else misses, the last player to go will have watched those three putts and can determine which way they want to play the break. When the best putter goes, there should also be one putt that is a tap-in so that they can go to the hole at full speed and really try to make it.

When playing in a scramble, you can go low, but golfers need to make some fairly long putts, and the good news is that even higher handicappers can do that from time to time.

3. Don’t Always Choose The Shortest Shot

The ball that is closest to the hole is not always the best shot. Take a look at where the pin is on the green and decide which one makes the most sense to play. If the pin is on the left side of the green, you will want to choose an approach shot from the right.

In addition, if one shot is in the rough, play the one from the fairway. Be smart about the shot you are choosing; making up for five or ten yards is not a big deal. Distance is not always the most critical thing in a scramble.

4. Don’t Always Choose The Closest Putt

When your group makes it to the putting green, you have to choose a putt that is most makeable. If you have a 10 foot putt down the hill or a 12 foot putt up the hill, the 12 foot putt is often the better choice.

Be really smart about which putts you decide to use, and make sure that it is a shot that several players in the group feel confident about making. Look at the slope, angles, and grain to determine your most significant percentage of making the putt.

The putting green is where you can earn the most strokes back after a bad hole. Take your time and be selective about your angles.

5. Alternate The Club Hit Off The Tee

One of the biggest mistakes that I have seen players make through the years is trying to have all golfers on the scramble team hit a driver off the par 4’s and par 5s. As long as you have some players in the group that can generate good clubhead speed, you can hit a 3 wood or even a utility iron at times to get a great shot in play.

This is especially important to consider when golfers are playing from different tees. If one of the golfers in the group plays from a shorter tee, let them get a shot in the fairway for you.

On par 3 holes, you will also want to have players alternate the clubs that they are hitting. Pay close attention to the yardage that your playing partners can hit their shots. If somebody can hit the ball 150 with their 7 iron, make sure you base your club selection off of that.

6. Check for The Minimum Number of Drives

Although some four-person scrambles have no extra rules or regulations, there are times when you will find a minimum number of drives is required. This minimum number of drives from each player can become a real issue if you ignore it early on in the game.

It’s usually easy to get two drives from the lowest handicap player, but from the highest handicap player, it can be a bit of a problem.

Make sure that you are working on this process right from the start of your round. Lets’ say the first hole results in a shot by the highest handicap golfer that is in the middle of the fairway but about three yards back from the lowest handicap golfer.

This is the time to check one off the list for the high handicapper.

If you wait until the end of the round, you will get stuck with these requirements and be forced to use a shot from a specific player. I have seen groups come down to the 18th hole, and the only shot they can even take from the tee box is the one outstanding player who has not fulfilled their drive quote.

This is a mistake.

Get those drives crossed off early, and then play the rest of the round, focusing on locking in those birdies and eagles.

7. The Pace of Play Can Be Different

The pace of play during a scramble can be a little different. You may feel like there is a lot of running around and motion, picking up golf balls and getting them to the best spot. Then once you get to that spot, it feels like a lot of waiting.

Prepare yourself for the scramble to be a slightly different pace of play.

Most of the time, things should move faster than they do when everyone plays their own ball, but plenty of beginner golfers play in scrambles and slow things down. Just be mindful that this will be different than a standard round, and you will have a lot more fun and a much better chance of winning your scramble event.

 

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Brittany Olizarowicz

Britt O has been playing golf since the age of 7. Almost 30 years later, she still loves the game, has played competitively on every level, and spent a good portion of her life as a Class A PGA Professional. Britt currently resides in Savannah, GA, with her husband and two young children. Current Handicap: 1