Scramble events (commonly misquoted as “Best Ball”) are overwhelmingly the most popular format for charity and corporate events. 4 players tee off and as a team, together you decide which shot is the best and the entire team hits the next shot from that spot. Play continues this way until the ball is holed and starts back up again on the next tee. More fairways, more Greens In Regulation and more chances at Birdie! Scramble formats perfect for tournaments where the day is often measured by beer consumption and the main goal is enjoyment.
However, if you’re looking to switch things up and freshen up your annual tournament, consider some of these other scoring and play formats. Now, you don't want to make things too complicated but minor scoring changes help your tournament stand out and can make for an interesting twist on event day.
House Rules Scramble
Still reluctant to switch from the scramble format? Try adding a house rule to your event to change things up and add a strategy element. You can force players to alternate tee shots or place a minimum number of tee shots each player must hit (referred to as a Texas Scramble) during the round.
Are you the gambling type? Why not try one of our favorites; the Las Vegas Scramble — all four players in each foursome are assigned a number from 1-4. After each player tees off (on each hole) the team roll a dice to select which drive is used. Roll a 5 or a 6 and the team can select the tee shot they prefer.
Little variations like this add excitement and keep play exciting for golfers who play in your event every year.
Best Ball (sometimes referred to as Better Ball)
This scoring format is often confused with a scramble. Best Ball is different as all four players play their own ball for the round and the team uses the best individual player score on each hole as the team score. This scoring format is best reserved for smaller events that are likely to have similar skill levels playing together or when playing with course handicaps.
The Stableford scoring system does not change the way the event is played, merely the way it is scored, so you can still use a scramble format for play during the round. Rather than counting strokes and comparing them to par, your score on a hole earns points (or deducts points for being over par).
The exciting part is it rewards aggressiveness and caps the damage bad holes can do. Par earns you 0 points, a birdie earns 2 points, an eagle earns 5 points and a double eagle earns 8 points. Bogies deduct a point and double bogey or worse deducts 3 points. It sounds complicated, but simply printing the rules on a scorecard will mean golfers will pick up the format quickly.
Mulligan Tickets and Gimme Strings
While not a different scoring format, mulligan tickets and gimme strings can make an event feel new and exciting while adding fundraising revenue. Best sold as add-ons during registration or at check-in on event day, mulligan tickets allow players to donate additional funds to the tournament in exchange for the chance to hit shots over. Gimme Strings work in much the same way. Simply cut a string to a desired length (2-3 feet) and if a team has a putt within the string length they can pick it up without the worry of missing. These are best used when the prize for winning is simply “bragging rights” and kept out of competitive events.
As a final thought, remember to keep things simple. Don't throw the kitchen sink at your golfers all at once. If you're inclined to try something new be sure to state the rules clearly and prominently and reach out after the event to find out if your golfers enjoyed it. The feedback can help shape direction for next year's event.