Alot of serious players seem to dislike scramble tournaments. Usually, it means golfing with company co-workers and probably be stuck behind a group of beginners who have only plays once or twice at year. It can be an excruciating 5 hours of dealing with drunk golfers driving their cart go all over the golf course, and ducking everything “Fore!” is yelled, which you’ll hear on every hole.
However, I try to join at least one every season with my regular playing partners. As a bogey golfer who regular sees 80s and 90s on the scorecard, scrambles really shows me the difference of great golf versus my version of crunchy golf.
We actually started on hole number 9 and began the day with two bogeys but steadied out and made a lot of birdies in the second half to put us under 70! While I may never become a scratch golfer, it is fun to pretend and just write down such a low score and at least absorb this feeling. Of course, with 4x the drivers, 4x the approach shots, and 4x the putts, you’re bound to score much better.
Some things I noticed about scoring low:
1. Sometimes all four of us didn’t hit a perfect drive but there is usually one on the fairway. Being in the fairway is far more important than distance off the tee. The longer drivers are sometimes in the trees or some type of unplayable hazards. From the fairway, we had a chance to still reach greenside and rely on some type of short game to save par.
2. With four shots into the green, we definitely discovered it’s more about where you miss. On one hole, we chose to play from a low lipped fluffy bunker with lots of green to work with over a 40 foot putt. 3/4 shots got within a tap in range for a par save! Another time on a par 5, we chose to chip from the greenside and had 2 shots that stopped right at the lip for a tap in birdie!
3. Wow, putting is so important. We always hear the adage “drive for show and putt for dough”- On a bad drive, with so many approach tries, we might lose one stroke and get a bogey. But there really is no way to save par or get a birdie if you cannot putt. Of course, we don’t have the luxury of seeing the same lines 3 times before a 4th try in golf but being able to putt made for alot of easy pars and some nice birdies.
4. Another element with 4 heads around a hole, we are always truly in the moment. We discussed which ball to play, who should be playing, and general line and speed. No one really can think “ahead” to the next hole or think “behind” about what we were shooting before since it’s not part of the calculations for the shot at hand. It was always just about executing the next shot. Before you know it, the pars were stringing together nicely, almost unnoticed behind the scenes.
Here was our strategy for the day- let me know if you might have switched things up or if you have any tips to share for scrambles.
The ladies got to drive from the forward tees and usually, my wife hits it 165y down the middle of the fairway. We used this to our advantage on a few holes- we’d take her drives on short par 4s or maybe long par 5s if no one else is in any better position. If she leaves one in the middle of the fairway, the boys will sometime try a risky shot over trees or bend around a blind corner since we know we already have a safe second shot in.
On long par 5s or tough par 4s where we know my wife cannot reach the green, we had her go first and lay up to a short iron distance. Once we see we have a safe shot into the green already, the rest of us go for the higher risk 3w or 3hy play and try to reach the green.
The biggest thing we find was that every putt gave up super valueable information. So we book-ended the putting with the strongest putters. Strong putter #1 might be good enough to just knock it in. If it doesn’t go in, it’ll usually be near the hole- this gives us both the safety of knowing we will 2 putt at worst as well as confirm and establish the putting line we need to take. Having seen the line makes it easier for putter #2 and #3. After 3 different looks at it, we let our strongest putting go last and hope it makes it in!
Overall, we had a great day with good friends and lots of high fives all around. For a team who generally shoot in the 80s-100s, it really opened up our eyes to what is possible if we had more consistency off the tee and a solid short game that we are nowhere close to, for now at least!
In the meantime, it’s back to reality and working on my irons and putting game- there’s alot of rounds left for the season to go!