Having played in more scrambles than I can remember on both local and regional levels, I have learned a lot about what makes a good scramble team and the best strategies to use. There are several varieties of scrambles such as “Best Shot Steps Aside,” scrambles involving handicaps, etc. Each has its own little quirks but the vast majority is four person scrambles where you put your own team together. That is the favorite format for charity events.
The strategy for these events fall into two different categories. The first strategy is in putting the team together and the second one is how you actually play in the tournament.
There are two important positions to fill. The first is getting a long hitter off the tee and the next is putting. The tee shot can make it easier to get the approach close to the hole which consequently gives you a better chance for making birdie, but actually making the putt is the key. To win a scramble, you are going to need to make every putt that you should make and a few that you shouldn’t.
The next player you are looking for is someone with the ability to consistently hit the ball in the fairway. He or she doesn’t have to be long, only accurate. This frees up your power hitter. If it gets to the power hitter and nobody is in the fairway, they can’t exactly free wheel it.
The best teams I have played on also had a strong female. When she is driving from the forward tees it can be a huge advantage. With the females getting a 60 yard head start, it can be tough on your power driver to out drive it.
You also want to make sure that at least three of the four have a reasonable chance of hitting the green from around 150 yards. At least one needs to be a really strong iron player. Just getting it somewhere on the green isn’t going to cut it.
Choosing the right playing order is extremely important. Keep in mind that your best or “A” player may not best at all phases of the game so set up the playing order with that in mind. You actually need two different orders – one for putts and one for the rest of the shots.
The most accurate player off the tee goes first. Their job is to put something in play period. Have them hit whatever club off the tee they need to in order to get the ball in the fairway. The more balls in the fairway, the better. Your longest hitter goes last and there is much less pressure on him if two or three balls are in the fairway.
The second best putter putts second and the best putter putts last. This may seem a little strange but it is the best rotation. Let your worst putter go first. The longer they wait to putt, the more the pressure is on them.
Have everyone putt on all holes, even after the putt is made. This way everyone stays fresh. Otherwise your best putter can frequently go for long stretches without having the opportunity to putt. When you need them the most and they haven’t putted in five or six holes, it is not good.
If you are the captain, always go with the least difficult shot that the majority of the team members are comfortable with. In my experiences, I have given up thirty yards off the tee because I was the only one comfortable with a downhill lie.
The same is true for putting. A fifteen or twenty footer slightly up hill with only a little break may be a lot easier than eight or ten footer downhill with three feet of break. Also with putting, remind your team to always be aggressive. Your best chance of making the putt is if everybody gets it to the hole.
I hope this has given you some food for thought the next time you are putting together a team for a scramble. It is a really fun format, but the strategy is totally different than playing your own ball all the way.