A scramble and best ball are two of the most popular golf formats around.
However, even with the popularity of these events, people often get the names of the events mixed up.
If you have a tournament coming up that is either a scramble or a best ball tournament, this guide will help you understand what to expect.
Both scrambles and best balls can be fun and exciting to play.
However, most players end up preferring one over the other at some point in their golfing career.
Let’s take a look at the difference between a scramble and a best ball golf tournament.
Scramble Vs. Best Ball
A scramble is a golf tournament in which the best golf ball is chosen on each shot until the ball is holed, while the best ball requires players to play their own shot until the ball is holed.
To fully understand the differences between a scramble and a best ball you must understand the way that these tournament formats work.
A scramble tournament is where everyone hits a tee shot and then the best tee shot is chosen.
At this point, all golfers will then hit from this position.
Then the best second shot is chosen.
From there, golfers will repeat the process until the ball goes into the hole.
When you play in a scramble format, you could be playing your own golf ball throughout the entire hole.
On other holes, you may end up never playing from a spot that you hit your shot to.
This is something that people tend to love or hate about a scramble.
If you are new to the game and you want to enjoy playing from some different locations, a scramble is really fun.
If you are an accomplished player and want to see how well you play on a golf course, the scramble will likely not be as enjoyable.
Overall, scrambles help keep the pace of play moving, and they make the overall sport a bit more of a fair game as opposed to a regular round of golf.
2. Best Ball
A best ball tournament is simply choosing the best score from the hole after all golfers have played.
You can play in either a best ball gross tournament or best ball net tournament.
The gross tournaments are going to be played without handicaps, and the net tournaments will include handicaps.
The best ball golf event is really just playing your own round of golf, but then when the time comes, you only count the best score for the hole.
The reason people confuse best ball and scramble is that they think of a scramble as choosing the “best ball.”
This is really not the case.
Golfers will choose the best score at the end of the hole, and that is why a best ball has the name “best ball”.
The best ball tournament is going to be preferred by better players, and those who like to play their own golf shot from the tee to the green.
Differences Between Scramble And Best Ball
Now that you understand the basic formatting difference between the scramble and the best ball, some other important factors are worth understanding as well.
The difference between a scramble and a best ball golf tournament extend beyond the overall format and design.
The golf handicap is the way that the scores are calculated based on the way that players play the game.
Every golfer who is playing in a tournament likely has a handicap.
However, when you play in a scramble, there is typically a formula used to calculate the team’s overall handicap.
Depending on the decisions of the tournament committee, the formula for calculating the handicap could be anything from a percentage of each player’s handicap to just adding them up and dividing by four.
Most of the time, the handicap is a combination of a large percentage of the low handicapper’s handicap and then a high percentage of the high handicapper.
This is done because a good number of the shots played will have been hit by the lower handicap golfer.
The high handicap golfer will not contribute quite as much just because of the types of shots that they hit.
Therefore, it would not be fair if their handicap became the primary handicap for the group.
In a best ball tournament, you will simply use your current golf course handicap.
The golf course handicap is the best overall choice because it will be specific to the course that you are playing.
Most of the time, there are rules that are specific to the tournament as well.
Some formats will require you to count two drives in a scramble.
For a best ball event, it may make more sense to ensure that two scores are counted for each player on every team.
The rules of the game are typically decided by each individual tournament committee, and they may depend on the type of golf course or the quality of the golfers in the event.
The rules of your tournament will sometimes determine the amount of time the golf tournament ends up taking, so keep that in mind.
If you want to pick a format that plays rather quickly, pay attention to the rules and requirements that you put into play for the golfers.
Scoring is another way in which these tournament formats can differ.
For the most part, a scramble tournament will just be one team score, gross and net, per hole.
However, the best ball tournament can require two balls or even two gross and two net.
The scoring will change based on the golf course and the way that the tournament is conducted.
Overall, if you are very serious about golf and understand scoring and handicaps, you will want to keep the scorecard in a best ball tournament.
There is typically quite a bit to keep track of when you ensure that all players’ scores are properly accounted for, both gross and net.
When other rules are in place, like using each player’s score at least twice, the format only becomes more complicated.
In the end, the scoring is a tricky part of best ball formats, but for scrambles, it is really easy as everyone is kind of working together as a team while they make their way around the course.
Once you get the hang of both formats, you won’t feel as though the scoring is all that hard to figure out.
Which Is Better: Scramble Or Best Ball?
When trying to determine whether the scramble or a best ball tournament is better, you have to think about the people that are playing the game.
Many golfers will insist a scramble is better and vice versa.
Typically, there are positives and negatives to both formats, so let’s take a look at why you might prefer to play in a scramble or the best ball.
1. Benefits Of A Scramble
The most important benefit of a scramble is that it speeds up play a great deal.
When you set up a scramble format, you can put golfers who are higher handicappers together with lower handicappers, and it will not really matter.
Players of all types can end up playing together, and that is an excellent benefit of a scramble.
Even those who are not all that good will have a putt or a chip at some point in the game that ends up helping out the team.
At the end of the day, all players will feel as though they contributed in some way.
There are lots of benefits of a scramble when it comes to the pace of play as well.
If you are looking for a much faster way to move people around the course, the scramble is a perfect tournament format.
Scrambles are fast.
Those who know how to play them well can finish a round with four people in around three hours.
Of course, if you are doing this in an outing with golfers of all different abilities, you can expect the round to last quite a bit longer.
Another benefit of a scramble is that it can be a lot of fun.
Scrambles take some of the pressure off of those who are playing the game.
When you are playing a scramble, you will not have the same pressure that you have when you are playing your own golf ball.
This is going to make your day on the golf course feel like it is quite a bit more fun.
The benefits of a golf scramble make it a much more enjoyable day, and many players actually end up preferring a scramble to any other type of format.
Scrambles are an excellent choice for many ladies’ leagues and beginner golf events as well.
Some players who don’t have the confidence to play their own ball throughout the course can play a scramble.
2. Benefits Of A Best Ball
The biggest and most obvious benefit of the best ball tournament is the fact that you are going to get to play your own golf ball throughout the entire course.
A lot of golf courses will host tournaments and outings that are very difficult to get on.
Serious golfers know that there are certain golf courses that, unless they are a member or know a member, they will never be able to get on.
Therefore, it makes sense to consider playing in these events if they have the best ball format.
This is the only way that some golf courses are accessible to players who are interested in getting on a certain course.
In addition, to getting able to play your own golf ball, most best ball tournaments will also play a bit faster than a traditional round.
Remember that with the best ball tournament, you will only have to use one or two scores on the hole.
These few scores are going to end up making it much faster when the player who is having a bad hole is able to just pick up and move along.
The benefits of the best ball tournament also allow almost all golfers to help at some point during the course of a round.
Chances are you will have a hole that helps out the team in either a gross or net way at some point during the round.
In the end, it will be up to the individual player which type of golf tournament they want to play in or sign up for.
However, as a tournament administrator, you should be paying attention to the people who are giving you feedback on this topic.
How To Choose A Format For A Golf Tournament
A golf tournament format is a tough decision to make.
There are times when you are going to have to decide on a tournament based on very little information.
Some events are played the same way from one year to the next.
Others will vary the format to help make it appeal to more players or difficult types of players.
If you are looking for a golf tournament format, consider these few things before you decide what you want to do.
1. Size Of Field
How big is your field of golfers?
The more people you have who want to play, the easier it is to go with a simple format like a scramble or a shamble.
These tournaments are going to speed up the pace of play and make it a much easier day on the course.
In addition, a golf tournament with a large field size is going to be a scoring nightmare if you choose a difficult format.
Overall, the size of the field being larger does not mean the pace of play needs to be very long, it simply means that golf tournament administrators will need to monitor the format that they choose.
2. Handicaps Of Golfers
When you are setting up a golf tournament, it is very important to consider the handicaps of golfers as well.
If you have a high handicap field, the easier the tournament format you pick, the better the day will go.
If you know your field is going to have lots of great players, then you can choose a best ball type tournament where golfers will be playing with their own golf ball.
The handicaps of golfers are not always easy to figure out, but there are specific situations in which you can tell the types of players you will be dealing with.
For instance, maybe you are running a charity event to raise money for a local cause.
People will be playing in the tournament to support the cause, but they will not necessarily be good at golf.
However, if you run a golf tournament for doctors, dentists, or lawyers, chances are you are going to have lots of players who are really good at golf and enjoy playing the game.
These groups of players typically have lower handicaps and can handle almost any format that you throw at them.
If you are not careful to choose the right format to appeal to the golfers you have in your field, the overall event may not fill, and it may not be as much fun.
This is probably the most important consideration when choosing your golf tournament format.
3. Golf Course Design
The golf course design is another factor to consider.
Some golf courses are much harder than others to play.
Most of the time, it is a good choice to pick a golf course that is a fairer design that any type of player could enjoy.
However, if you are only able to choose a very difficult golf course, then it may make sense to pick some kind of modified format that is a bit easier for golfers.
If the golf course is very easy to play, instead, then it may make sense to choose a more difficult format like the best ball.
Overall, the golf course design should play into the decision not just where to have a tournament but which format to play.
What Is The Difference Between A Scramble And A Shamble?
A golf shamble is a popular format to play instead of a scramble.
With a shamble, the golfers will start the hole the same way they do in a golf scramble.
All players will hit their drive, and then, they will pick the best of the four drives.
Once the best drive is picked, each golfer will play their own ball all the way into the hole from there.
If you are a great player, you get a good mix of playing your own ball because the tee shot is just going to be optimized on each tee.
Overall, the scramble and the shamble are similar, but the shamble gives players a chance to see just a bit more of the golf course.
The benefit of the shamble is that you won’t have to spend much time with golfers who are stuck in the woods off the tee or struggling to find a golf ball for five or seven minutes.
Instead, golfers will look quickly for their ball and then put it back in play so that they can then play their own ball into the hole the rest of the way.
Most shambles will only require a score or two per hole.
Therefore, it makes sense in these events that the overall pace of play is going to be quite fast.
The shamble is a good alternative to throw in if you have always played your golf tournament or event as a scramble.
The differences are essential to seriously consider and analyze to ensure that everyone has a great day out on the golf course.
Hopefully, you now feel a bit better about the difference between a best ball and a scramble.
When you compare a scramble vs. best ball, you will notice the main difference is the amount of time golfers spend hitting their own golf shots.
With a scramble, you can expect to be playing from locations that are not typical for your game.
With the best ball, the tournament is more of a play-your-own golf ball kind of event that allows for a full experience on the golf course.
Try to learn the difference between the terminology of best ball and scramble.
So many people get these confused because of the way that the tournaments are played.
With a golfer hitting their shots from the best spot each time, the scramble is often confused as the best ball format.
Remember that a scramble has you scrambling all the time playing from different locations.
At the end of the round, you can see that the best ball will feel like a regular day on the golf course, where a scramble will feel like a more unique and interesting format.