How to win a golf scramble: Tips for success from an expert
Golf Culture

How to win a golf scramble: Tips for success from an expert

You're about to play in a golf scramble. You've got your team ready, and your group is set to take on the field in the lowest-scoring golf tournament format. Winning can be difficult -- maybe even impossible if there's plenty of cheating -- but there are some steps you can take before and during a golf scramble to give your team the best chance to win.

How to win a golf scramble

Making the right team

Winning a golf scramble starts with the makeup of your team. You need a team with complementary chemistry. That doesn't mean having all good players or all long hitters or any prescribed group of players. However, it's typically a good idea to have a long-and-accurate driver of the golf ball, a team of good to great putters and a golfer with a good short game that can bail your team out of difficult situations.

Finding a long-hitting player is key. For many scramble teams, their longest hitter may be a player -- a woman or an older player -- who is competing from a forward set of tees. This golfer hits the ball longer than their peers who would play from the same set of tees and gets a distance advantage by teeing off closer to the hole. If that player keeps the ball in the fairway and hits the ball their typical length, they could be a huge asset. The goal is to leave easy, comfortable shots for all the players after the tee shot.

ST ANDREWS, SCOTLAND - OCTOBER 03: Winners of the team competition amateur Maeve Danaher and playing partner Michael Hoey of Northern Ireland pose for a photograph with their trophys on the Swilcan Bridge during Day Four of The Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at The Old Course on October 03, 2021 in St Andrews, Scotland. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Playing a scramble with proper strategy

Playing a golf scramble isn't just about hitting shots. It's also about doing the right little things to put your team in the best position to succeed.

The order in which players hit is important. Have the least-talented players hit every shot first. That way, if they hit a good shot, they offer a baseline for success and a security blanket for better players to compete more aggressively. If the least-talented player finds the fairway with their tee shot, a better player could choose to try to hit their drive longer than normal to get their team closer to the hole for the next shot.

Putting order is particularly important. The best putter should always putt last, unless it's a tap-in putt. The best putter should be able to pick up on the line and speed required to make a putt with multiple people going ahead of them and hitting putts. The best putter can also help the others dial in their line and speed reads so that they may potentially make the putt sooner.

Pick where you hit from carefully. The best place to hit the next shot from in a scramble isn't always obvious. A long drive right in the middle of the fairway makes a ton of sense to choose for the next shot. However, a longer drive that might require players to hit uncomfortable shots (punch shots, cuts and hooks, etc.) may not be as good as a shorter shot with a better angle or from a better lie. It's worth it to have a longer shot if that means having a better angle to the hole, more room to miss the next shot or a better lie. Choose carefully.

Use all the cheats at your disposal. At most scrambles, you can buy the right to cheat at certain times during a round. That might mean mulligans or the opportunity to move the ball a certain distance from its original position. Don't forget to use those and at times when it feels helpful to the team.

Have fun. The reality is that a golf scramble team has to perform well together to have a chance to win. That starts with keeping things light and not applying too much pressure on each player to perform above and beyond their skill level. Even if you do everything right, you still could lose. So just have fun out there.


About the author


Ryan Ballengee

Ryan Ballengee is founder and editor of Golf News Net. He has been writing and broadcasting about golf for over a decade, working for NBC Sports, Golf Channel, Yahoo Sports and SB Nation. Ballengee lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his family. He used to be a good golfer.

Ballengee can be reached by email at ryan[at]

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