There are many different variations of golf that can improve the game when playing in larger groups. The two most common variations are best ball and scramble, both variations have their pros and are commonly mistaken for the same game.
This article will explore what exactly best ball and scramble are, and the rules you need to follow in order to play them. We will then compare the two and see exactly which one is best for you.
What Is Best Ball?
Best ball is a variation of your usual golf match that uses teams instead of individuals. Groups split up into teams, this is usually teams of two, three, or four, the individual members of each team then hit their own ball throughout the hole as you would in a normal round of golf.
At the end of the hole, the teams then come together and choose the best score amongst the members of that team. Only the best score from each team is counted at the end of the hole. This score then applies to the whole team
This format carries on through each hole and the team with the lowest score at the end of the tournament wins.
Best ball turns the individual sport of golf into more of a team exercise, taking the pressure off any given individual and provides more of a social aspect when going through the match. It also allows golfers that are having a particularly bad hole or a bad tournament to not feel left out of the running, and they can just pick up and move to the next hole instead of getting caught in a cyclone of their own frustration (we’ve all been there).
There is always a chance of winning even if you personally aren’t at your best. This variation of golf can also speed up the tournament, as soon as one of your team members finishes the hole then you have a maximum number of strokes until your score is nullified, reducing the maximum number of strokes your team can hit.
What Is A Scramble in Golf?
A scramble in golf is another variation of the game that turns golf into more of a team sport than an individual sport. This variation is either played with teams of two players or more. Each team can have a leader or captain to make tough decisions if the team cannot decide unanimously, but that isn’t necessary.
Each team tees off from the same point, and then must then decide which of the shots landed in the better position for the next shot. This is normally decided by how close the shot is to the green but other factors can come into play, like lie, hazard interference, pin position, or even player strengths and weaknesses. Once the best position for the next shot is decided, the entire team must then hit from that spot for their second shot.
This process is then repeated until the hole is over, and the score is the sum of the ‘good’ shots – the team has one score at the end of the hole, and individual scores are not possible unless one person’s shot is used each time (but sometimes there are rules preventing this).
Benefits of Best Ball Vs Benefits of Scramble
Both variations of golf have their benefits and appeals and some of these benefits are very similar. For instance, both best ball and scramble decrease the time it takes to finish a golf tournament.
When playing best ball, you only need to play until the first member of your team finishes the hole, when the first member of your team finishes, the maximum number of strokes it takes to finish that hole decreases, and any ball over that number of strokes is nullified. Whereas if you were playing a normal round of golf, you would have to wait until every member of the party had finished the hole no matter what their stroke number was.
Similarly, scramble decreases the time it takes to finish a hole because scramble effectively halves your party size. Although up to four players are taking a shot, the number of shots taken for the party to finish the hole will fall dramatically as only the best of those shots are used for the next shot.
Scramble ensures that the fewest number of strokes relative to the team is taken in each hole. Scramble is arguably the quickest of the two variations as with best ball, everyone is playing until the first member of the team finishes.
If playing with less experienced golfers this could take a while, however, in scramble, each player plays from the optimal position. This is likely to mean that each hole will have fewer strokes.
Another appeal that both variations have is the social aspect that comes along with playing as a team rather than individually. This is why it is common to use variations like best ball and scramble at different events such as charity tournaments and golf club games.
Both variations have you divide your party into teams and work together to get the lowest score on the hole. Scramble is definitely more of a social game than best ball however, as with scramble you are constantly making decisions as a team throughout the hole.
There are strategies that come along with scramble in which order the teammates play and who’s positioning would be best for the next shot. In best ball, the majority of the game is played the same as a normal hole of golf, all team members play their hole and try to get the least strokes, it is only at the end of the hole that the team aspect comes into play.
It is hard to say that one of these variations is better than the other. They are both very similar in that they make golf a more social game than an individual one, but both have different benefits that could cater to different golfers.
If you prefer the social aspect of golf and prefer working strategies with your team then scramble is probably the better option for you. If you want something a little more social but still want to play your ball as individually as you can in a team game then definitely go for best ball.