To scramble or to enter a scramble — do you know the difference?

Image of egg scrambleMOST NEWBIES get their first golf experience in a charity tournament that uses the “scramble” format. This has nothing to do with the eggs you are having for breakfast or the puzzle in your Sunday newspaper. It simply means that all players hit tee shots, then they decide which one is in the best position, pick up the rest of the balls and all hit from the site of the best one.

This is NOT the same as “best ball” format, thought it is often described that way by people who have never played in a true best ball format, but that’s a story for another day. Just know that when someone tells you a charity tournament format is “best ball” you can assume they mean scramble.

In a well-run tournament, each scramble team is made up of one player from the top echelon of entries, one from the bottom and two from the middle. Some players will not have official handicaps and so they will be asked for their typical score in order to place them. It’s a good format for newbies because your bad shots don’t matter and you might help out with a good one here and there.

Scrambles can be a lot of fun when teams make birdies. Then later they see by the scoreboard they did not make nearly enough birdies. But it was fun while it lasted. (Note that the winning team most likely will be booed, hissed and accused of sandbagging.)


There is one other type of scramble in golf, the verb. If someone accuses you of “scrambling” to make pars, just say thank you — they mean that you are hitting some wayward shots but your short game is saving you.  Thus, you may be scrambling to get out of the trees and bunkers and rough.

Scrambling, generally not as much fun as scrambles. But, now you know.

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