I recently played in a four-man scramble (in a fundraiser tournament). Our team went in with a simple strategy: 1) reliable driver first off the tee 2) reliable short game first off the fairway and 3) worst putter first. Our handicaps ranged from 12-ish to 28, and we finished at 6 under par and carded no bogeys.
The winners came in at 12 under par. My question: Is there much more we could have done in terms of strategy? (Our execution could have been better, especially when it came to our approach shots into the greens.) It was a fun format, and we'd like to be more competitive next year.
By the way, this is my first posting ever. I've learned so much over the past couple of years from reading the various posts on this site, and I want to thank all of you for helping me get my game to its current level. (I'm one of the 12-ish handicaps.)
A few things that you can think over and try out next time, some of the strategies depend on the team's personalities (i.e. how they handle pressure). I've played in well over 40 scrambles over the years, winning several and having a great time in all. As a general rule and when in doubt over a hitting order, have the best player for that shot type hit last.
Driver - 2 theories that have worked for my teams in the past. The first you already use, straight hitter goes first then let everyone else fall in from there. Another way to do it is to let your longest hitter go first (if he's significantly longer than rest of group) assuming he's swinging well and is more comfortable. He's more likely to put a good swing on it and swing in tempo if he knows he has backup.
Irons - Generally I will have the worst iron players hit first, and being one of the better players I would "coach" them around a little. Not swing tips, but talk them into an easier shot for them. Their goal is to put the ball on the green............there is no flag for them. Usually if they're thinking about a larger target, they will give you a better result...........and at least a decent chip at it at worst. Once ball is on green, go flag hunting.
Short game - Around the green, I let comfort rule the order. Whoever feels most confident with the shot can hit. If it's a very difficult touchy shot, generally I'd save a good player for last to help them get a better feel for the shot, otherwise order doesn't really matter.
Putting - Best putter (best pressure putter) goes last. Let the 2nd best go first to show the line. I sandwich the worst putter in between, because they're not going to give you a consistent line/distance read.
Miracles - You'll need at least one birdie you shouldn't have made in order to win. Never let the high hc's be in a position to fail the team. Make someone lay up to a smart spot in case the miracle doesn't happen. Let the best players go for the miracle, odds are more in there favor.
A major key to scrambles are the par 5's and short par 4's, birdies are required and eagles are a great boost. Everyone who can reach the green in two should try, unless it's a forced carry over a hazard. In which case have the worst FW player lay up short of hazard, then have others give it a go. A pitch/chip is always better than a full wedge in a scramble.
One last thing, if your team is playing to win/place/show................watch the booze. Dont let the team get plastered if your trying to make the money. If your just out for a good time, or were out to win but having a lousy day............still watch the booze, as long as there standing it's all good
Pretty much spot on from my scramble experience. It all comes down to putting and chipping and the team that wins usually has at least one chip in and one cross country putt. Balancing serious with fun is key in that it helps to keep the higher handicaps feel they can contribute because without them making some key shots(usually approach or putting) you usually won't win.
Putting in Scrambles
It seems like scrambles are won or lost on the green. You have to have someone get hot with the putter. It seems like when the ball starts going in the hole it picks up the whole team where everyone feels like every putt is going to go in the hole. I have seen it work the other way when the team misses a short putt and everyone gets down and the team loses it's confidence and you feel like no putt will go in.
Beer to swing ratio
You have to make sure all members of your group are at the high end of their golf swing/beer ratio. It's a scientific fact that most people play better in scrambles when they have consumed between 4 and 11 beers. Some people perform better at 4, others closer to 11. Get your beer numbers right for each player, and start drinking in the parking lot. The first few holes can win or lose a scramble, and you just can't risk starting off stone-cold sober. That and cheat like hell, because everyone else will be.
Cheating in Scrambles
Thanks for your reply. One of my partners, though he did not drink during the scramble, sometimes does during our recreational rounds. He'd probably agree with your ratio theory, and he's probably working on his ideal ratio right now.
But you raise an issue that my same partner has been raising since the scramble: cheating. This goes against my grain (is that originally a golf term?) because I generally play by the rules (when I remember them) and most of the players in the tournament were teachers.
Is everyone else really cheating? Is it an accepted practice in scrambles tournaments? I didn't really notice because I was focused on the game, but my partner swears that the group behind us couldn't have possibly shot the score they recorded on the scorecard.
Originally Posted by Horseballs
Originally Posted by dancaban
I don't know for sure, but I've also had my suspicions. A guy on my team tried to cheat on a hole a couple years back. He hit an OK approach shot about 20 feet away, but we decided to use another ball that was a little closer. He walks up to his original ball and makes the putt, while the group missed the other putt. He was adamant we take birdie on the hole. We made him shotgun a beer for trying to cheat, but he sulked the rest of the round.
My whole reply was actually tongue in cheek, because I personally have never taken scrambles too seriously. The stakes aren't worth the embarassment/integrity issues of cheating. For many scramble players, it's the only golf they'll play all year, so I try not to get too worked up or competitive as it can ruin their experience.
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