Mar 04, 2024
POSTED BY: Nicholas Venditti

What Is a Scramble in Golf?

Are you considering joining a golf tournament and want to scrub up on some knowledge about different formats? In this article, we’ll cover the scramble format, which happens to be the most common golf tournament format.

If you’ve been in the game for a while, or if you’ve kept up with tournaments on television, you might already have an idea of how it works. However, if you’re a complete beginner, learning what a scramble is and how it works will help you understand what’s happening on the green.

Read on to learn everything you need to know.

What Is the Meaning of Scramble in Golf?

If you’re participating in a golf tournament and it’s going to be in the scramble format, here’s what you need to know:

First up, a scramble will be played between two and four players on one team. Each player will hit their own ball for each shot throughout the tournament. That means that every time it’s your team’s turn, you’ll each step up and take your turn.

Once each player has taken their shot, the team will collectively decide which was the best shot out of each player on the team. The whole team will then continue the game from that selected best shot. This format continues until the tournament has been completed.

One of the most significant benefits of this golf tournament style is that it should eradicate the need for penalty shots and bunker shots. And perhaps more importantly, it’s also a great way of bringing a team together.

Rules for Playing a Golf Scramble

When it comes to the rules of scramble golf, one thing to note is that the scramble is not covered in the Rules of Golf. While there is a set of rules, organizers often add their own rules to the already established ones. Most of the time, that’s to make the tournament a more enjoyable experience for players and spectators.

That said, a set of generally accepted rules tends to be present in most scramble games.

  • Each member of the team will play a shot for every hole
  • Once each player has taken their shot on one hole, the team will decide which is the best one and continue from there (it will be marked)
  • Often, the ultimate decision will come from the captain
  • Also, often, the best shot will be the one that hits the furthest
  • In the unlikely event that a shot is taken from a bunker or other area off the green, the player(s) must take that shot from an agreed distance from that place. This is commonly either a scorecard or a club-length
  • For those that landed on the green, the players must take the shot from within a putter’s head from that place

What Are the Different Types of Golf Scrambles?


In this variation of the scramble format, the word variation is used liberally. That’s because the Texas Scramble is the most similar variation to the regular format.

While in the original scramble, there is more lee-way on how many members can be in one team, in the Texas variation, there must be four players per team. Furthermore, there is a requirement for a minimum number of tee shots for each player for each round.

That rule can vary depending on the organizers, but it’ll often be the case that the rules state that each member of the team must play their ball for the entirety of each par three hole.

These are the only differences, and they make the Texas Scramble close to the original scramble.


The Florida Scramble has many aliases. You might have heard of Dropout, Step Aside, Stand Aside, or even Stand Out, but all of these terms refer to the same type of scramble. For now, we’ll call it the Florida Scramble.

In this variation of the golf format, the player whose shot is selected as the winner for the previous round must sit out the next one. That means in each round, the team is a person down. This is opposed to the regular format when every team member plays every round.

This is one of those rules that the event organizers might implement to make the tournament more exciting for spectators and players, as it switches things up a bit. It also effectively punishes the player who took the best shot, which makes for an exciting dynamic and ensures the team plays as one as opposed to just for themselves.

Las Vegas

The Las Vegas Scramble format really shakes things up and is one of the versions with the most variation from the original setup. As the scramble is a format most often used for charity tournaments, it’s understandable why organizers might want to make things more fun and interactive.

So, surprisingly, this variation includes the use of a die. There must be four teams in order to play, and a six-sided die is used. The die is used for each round to determine which of the team’s drives will be used for that hole.

As you can imagine, this makes the whole game more exciting and adds an extra element of skill. It's interactive and enjoyable, making for a light-hearted atmosphere perfect for a charity event. It’s also not hard to see why it’s named after the home of die games and gambling!


The nicely-named Bramble Scramble can be seen as a combination of two types of golf game. It’s also quite a departure from the original, as the team element of this version of the game is far less emphasized.

So, here, the scramble is mixed with the alternative game Best Ball. Best ball is still played with a team, but each team member plays their own ball for the entirety of the hole instead of changing up with each shot. The team’s score for each hole is determined by the lowest score by one of the team’s players.

In Bramble, you start with scramble and then continue as if it were best ball. It becomes more of an every-person-for-themselves situation, which can add some variation to the game.


The final type of golf scramble format on this list is the ambrose. This differs from the other types because it’s the only one to consider each member’s ability and rank intentionally. So, even if you have a scratch on your team, it doesn't always mean you'll win!

As said previously, the scramble is often used for charity events, so using a format in which the players' abilities are made more equal makes a lot of sense. After all, a charity event is supposed to be fun, and members are playing to raise money for charity.

So, in the ambrose, the entire team receives a handicap. This is done by adding the players' handicaps and dividing them (by a number depending on how many players there are in the team). This number is then subtracted from the team’s gross score, giving the net score.

As with other types of scramble, this type of format also encourages playing together as a team.

Strategies to Win: What Is a Successful Scramble in Golf?

There are several methods to use to give yourself the best chance for success when playing a scramble in golf. Because - after all - you can’t always rely on a hole-in-one!

First, consider the order of players when taking the shots. Ideally, you want the best player to take the shot last. That’s because your team will have one final chance to get a good shot if the others haven’t done so well.

Second, you might be tempted to always choose the shot that has landed the ball the furthest away, but that’s not always wise. Instead, go for the one with the best view of the hole and - even better - one with the best lie.

Finally, consider each player’s strengths. It’s not always about hitting the ball the furthest. Sometimes, you need accuracy, and sometimes, you need power. Play smart, not hard.

How To Organize a Scramble Tournament

The first thing to consider when planning a scramble tournament yourself is that many courses only allow groups of around five players. If you’d like to have an informal scramble with some friends, you’ll likely have to contact the club you’d like to play at ahead of time to get the go-ahead.

That being said, it is possible to play the scramble format with two teams of two, so if your club doesn’t allow it, you can get around it that way. Just remember, if you go ahead with more than two teams, you’ll need to organize multiple tee times where each team will essentially play separately, and then you’ll come together at the end to compare scorecards.

Finally, set out the rules ahead of time. Not only will this help all the players prepare, but it also means you have time to consider if you’d like to add in any custom rules.

Final Thoughts

Whether you're watching as a spectator or playing a scramble-format golf tournament, it can be great fun. The rules are fairly liberal; the aim of the game is teamwork, and it can be done on both smaller and larger scales. It's guaranteed to be a day of fun, no matter which variation you choose to play.

Crucially, if you do decide to play in a scramble tournament, you'll need the correct golf gear and apparel to ensure you look the part as well as play it. Check out Stitch Golf for all your golfing requirements!