Scramble Rules

A “Scramble” is a golf format very often used in charity fund raising events as well as casual play. Scrambles come in different shapes and sizes. They include the Florida (Step-Aside), Texas, Two-Man, Ambrose, Bloodsome (Reverse), Las Vegas, Miami, Powerball, and Shamble to name a few.

However, a “Scramble” is not covered under the Rules of Golf. Therefore, the applicable Rules may vary, and believe me, they vary widely!

Generally, a Scramble format involves four golfers all on the same team playing together. Each team member hits a tee shot on each hole. The team then collectively decides which of the four balls is in the best position to play next. After the team decides which ball is best, they mark its position; usually with a tee, a coin, a ball-marker, or whatever may seem to be luckiest for that day. Each player retrieves their ball (if it is still retrievable), and plays a shot from the new designated position. This procedure is repeated for each shot until a ball is holed.

Most of us have played in a Scramble before at one time or another. Undoubtedly, at some point, the applicable Rules come up and I am asked what is correct.

My answer?  “The Rules of Golf do not cover a scramble.”

I dug up a few old published Scramble Rules from an event about a decade ago. They are from an American Cancer Society event. These may possibly help in avoiding a few of the standard golf arguments that follow a typical round of golf.

  • Through the Green, each team member may place a ball within one club-length of the selected shot, not nearer the hole.  If the shot selected is in the fairway, primary rough, secondary rough, or fringe of the green, the ball must be placed in that same relative position on the course.  The lie may be improved by hand placing the ball or by moving it with the clubhead. 

  • On the Putting Green, each team member may place a ball within four inches on either side of the selected shot, no nearer the hole.  The ball must be hand placed.  The ball is in play when the player addresses it, or if he does not address it, when he makes his next stroke.

  • The hole is completed when the first ball of the team is holed.  When any member of the team plays any ball from the position it came to rest, that is considered selection of that shot by the team.

  • Team members may stand behind one another (on an extension of the line of play) while they are hitting a shot or putting.

I have to amend my usual closing to this article. You won’t find “Scramble” in the Rules of Golf.

Remember, use the index or the table of contents to find the correct Rule that applies to the situation and follow the Rules of Golf to help yourself to enjoy the game of golf. 

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