While golf can have the reputation for being a serious sport, that’s not always the case. In fact, the game can be a lot of fun and is a great option for a casual outing with family, friends and colleagues.
My favorite way to make golf less intimidating is to play a scramble-style format. Scrambles typically provide a low-pressure opportunity that allows golfers of any skill and experience level to experience tournament-style golf.
This golf format also provides a way for a group of players to work together and helps to build a sense of camaraderie. At my home course at Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa, we host hundreds of golf scrambles every year due to its popularity among groups visiting our beautiful Central Texas location.
A scramble works best with teams of two to four players. Once on the course, each golfer will tee off from the first tee box. Then, a designated team leader will determine the best shot. Once the best shot is determined, each golfer will move their ball to the best hit and tee off again from that location. The group continues this process until the ball is holed, providing a very collaborative golf experience.
In addition to being a fun and engaging way to play a round of golf, a scramble is a great option for beginners since it can help them continue to learn the rules of the game. This format also allows less experienced golfers to depend on other players in the group, so there is no pressure for them to hit a great shot every time. Additionally, since it is a group effort, golfers can have more flexibility in trying out new methods, clubs or putting and chipping techniques without it being a detriment to the overall score.
While I personally think a scramble is ideal for every type of player, I mostly see this format used in charity or corporate events. Many golfers who participate in these types of tournaments are not professional players, so a scramble helps to make sure that everyone enjoys their day on the course. A scramble format, while paired with a bogey or par max, also helps with the pace of play, ensuring a tournament stays within its anticipated schedule.
Scrambles are also ideal for introducing new players and junior golfers to the game. I highly recommend that new players consider lessons, clinics or instruction before their time on the course. For example, PGA Junior League is an organization that helps young players learn about the game. Participants receive their very own golf jersey and are then partnered together to play a two-person scramble against other teams. I have been the captain for PGA Junior League teams for the past six years, and it has been amazing to see the kids have so much fun competing and improving their skills in this fun two-person scramble.
The casual nature of a golf scramble provides a lot of flexibility so golfers should remember to have fun with it. If there is a good ball already in play, I recommend taking chances. A scramble is a perfect time for golfers to try those shots that they might think are tough or impossible.
When playing a scramble, it is important to keep an eye on the pace of play. Never spend too much time looking for a lost ball when a ball is in play. Keeping the round brief helps to keep the entire team engaged.
About the Author
Ashley Skidmore is the director of golf at Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa’s Hill Country Golf Club. With nearly a decade of experience in golf management, Skidmore has worked at several golf clubs throughout the region including Wolfdancer Golf Club at Hyatt Regency Lost Pines, Teravista Golf Club in Round Rock, the Broadmoor in Colorado and Promontory Ranch Golf Club in Utah. She has received several accolades throughout her career including the 2020 STPGA “Golf Professional of the Year” and the STPGA “Player Development” award in 2017.