Golfers can play many team games when they tee it up on the links. One format, the Texas Scramble, is a trendy team game played often in charity and corporate events.
What is a Texas Scramble? The Texas Scramble is a three or four-person team golf event. It varies from the traditional scramble in that each player must use a certain number of drives. For example, in a four-person scramble, four drives are required from each player. In a three-person scramble, five drives are required from each player.
A scramble format has many modifications, some of which we will look at in more detail later in this article.
In this article, I will break down the following regarding the Texas Scramble-
- What a Texas Scramble is
- Brief history of the Texas Scramble
- Why the Texas Scramble is popular
- How to play a Texas Scramble, including rules and variations of it
- What the difference is between a Texas Scramble and a traditional Scramble
- Deciding on a team strategy in a Texas Scramble
- Where Texas Scrambles are often played
What is a Texas Scramble?
The Texas Scramble is a type of scramble played by three or four players. Unlike the traditional scramble, it has a specific driving requirement. Each player must use a certain number of drives, such as four in a four-person scramble or five in a three-person scramble.
Furthermore, there is often a rule in the Texas Scramble that the player whose drive was chosen cannot hit the next shot. This variation from the standard scramble format is enjoyable and allows all players, regardless of skill level, to contribute to the team’s final score.
Golf scramble definition: A golf scramble is a popular golf format involving teams of four players. Each player hits a tee shot, and the team chooses the best shot to play from for their next shot. This process continues until the team finishes the hole. The team with the lowest score at the end of the round wins.
Read more: What Is a Scramble in Golf?
The History of the Texas Scramble
This format was initially called Captain’s Choice and sometimes still is. The reason for that original name was that the best player on a team was typically appointed as the captain. That player would decide during play whose shots would be used.
It is said that In the 1930s, the Captain’s Choice format became very popular in Texas and, from there, spread throughout the country. Because of its immense popularity originating in Texas, the name Texas Scramble became popular slang for the game. That has stuck ever since.
The Texas Scramble became the game of choice in Las Vegas in the 1950s, and today is played worldwide. It is a very popular choice for corporate outings and charity events.
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Why Is the Texas Scramble Popular?
The Texas Scramble, like its cousin, the traditional scramble, is very popular for a variety of reasons.
First and foremost, it allows all players on the team, no matter their ability level, to get involved and contribute to the team’s success.
Novice players who may only play golf once or twice a year can still drain a putt or hit a shot that could ultimately propel a team to victory. In addition, this format is a fantastic way to bring more people to the course to play in an event.
The Texas Scramble is also very popular because the ability to get a low team score and make birdies and even eagles are a distinct possibility. That spells fun for everyone!
For better players, playing in a Texas Scramble allows them to showcase their talents in a far less pressured environment. In addition, on a team with two or three other players providing support, a better player can take chances on the course they would not usually take when playing their own ball. That makes this format enjoyable for good players and those who don’t play much.
How to Play a Texas Scramble
The Texas Scramble is played as follows:
- All players on the team tee off on each hole.
- The team, or the designated team leader, decides which ball is in the best position for the second shot.
- In a true Texas Scramble, each player is required to use a minimum number of drives. For a four-person team, four drives each are required. For a three-person team, each player needs to hit five drives.
- Once the chosen tee shot is confirmed, all team members will play from that spot. This process then repeats until the ball is in the hole.
- This is a team game, so all competing teams will return one score for each hole and one final score for the round. The team with the lowest score is the winner.
Variations of the Scramble Format
There are countless variations of the scramble format in golf. And as discussed above, a true Texas Scramble is one where each player must use a set amount of drives.
Some common variations of scrambles include the following:
- Ambrose Scramble- In this format, handicaps and the team’s net score are used. I will cover handicap suggestions for a scramble in our next section.
- Reverse Scramble- Also known as a Worst Ball Scramble, this format is one in which the worst shot is chosen instead of the best. This format is typically used when better players make up the field.
- Florida Style Scramble- Also known as a Drop Out Scramble, Step Aside Scramble, or Stand Out Scramble. This is a format where the person whose drive is chosen sits out on the next shot or for the entire hole.
- Powerball Scramble- On designated holes, the team will decide a player to hit a tee shot from the forward tees.
- Red, White, and Blue Scramble- Players alternate playing from the red, white, and blue tees as they play.
- Shamble- In this modification of a scramble, all players tee off, and the best tee shot is chosen. From there, all players will play their own ball out until they hole it. In this format, it is typical to take the best score on the hole among all players and have that count as the team score.
Handicap Suggestions for a Texas Scramble
When playing a Texas Scramble or traditional scramble, an event organizer may want to use the player’s handicaps. If this is the case, there are a few ways to figure out handicaps.
Average Handicap of Team
One method would be to take the average of the team’s handicap. First, however, you must clearly define what constitutes an A, B, C, and D player. That means what handicap range an A play would be and so on.
In this method an example would be:
- A Player- 4 handicap
- B Player- 10 handicap
- C Player- 18 handicap
- D Player- 24 handicap
The average handicap of the team would be 56 / 4 = 14 team handicap.
The 50% Method
Another method of figuring out the handicap of the team for a scramble would be the 50% method. In this, you would take the total of all players’ handicaps.
From there, you would divide the team’s total handicap number by twice the number of players on the team.
In this method, an example would be
- Player 1- 8 handicap
- Player 2- 10 handicap
- Player 3- 12 handicap
- Player 4- 18 handicap
Divide the total of the handicaps, or 48, by 8, which is twice the number of players on the team. The team’s handicap would be 6.
Variable Percentage Method
For a four-person team, add 20 percent of the best player’s handicap, 15 percent of the second-best player’s handicap, 10 percent of the third-best player’s handicap, and 5 percent of the fourth-best player’s handicap.
In this method, an example would be
- Player 1- 8 handicap @ 20% = 1.6
- Player 2- 10 handicap @ 15% = 1.5
- Player 3- 12 handicap @ 10% = 1.2
- Player 4- 18 handicap @ 5% = 0.9
1.6 + 1.5 + 1.2 + 0.9 = 5.2 team handicap
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Deciding On A Strategy In A Texas Scramble
Strategizing in a scramble is very important to the team’s success. But, of course, you can play in a manner where having fun is the most important plan for the day.
If your team is in it to win it, consider the following to help create a winning formula for your team.
Choosing the proper order of play for your team is not just about deciding who the best is and making the lineup from there. Some players on your team may have a higher handicap but hit the ball a country mile. Others may be higher handicap players, but once they see a putt’s line once or twice, they are deadly.
Consider your player’s strengths and weaknesses and determine your lineups accordingly. Of course, you do not need to keep the same lineup on every hole or for every shot. That may be the conventional approach, but that doesn’t mean it’s right.
You can go many ways with your strategy.
For example, let’s say your worst player happens to be your longest player off the tee but tends to hit a big slice. It may make sense for them to tee off last on a drivable dog-leg-right hole and give it a go, especially if your best player can guarantee a safe drive down the center of the fairway first.
Where Are Texas Scrambles Played?
Like their close cousin, the traditional scramble, Texas Scrambles are played chiefly in charity and corporate outings. This is because they are inclusive and fun for all golfers of all abilities.
Sometimes, however, you will find this format played by teams consisting of outstanding players. In this case, the tournament is generally designed to be a birdie fest with occasional eagles thrown in for good measure.
No matter what this format is played for, a fundraiser, a team bonding office event, or a highly competitive outing, one thing is for sure…Texas Scrambles are a blast to play!
The Texas Scramble, which gained popularity in the 1930s, has become a mainstay in team golf competitions. It is a fun, inclusive, and at times, highly competitive way of playing the game.
When taking part in a Texas Scramble, much like in other variations of a scramble, having a good strategy makes all the difference in having a successful day on the course. And even if your team doesn’t play as well as you would have liked, it’s inevitable that you will still have a lot of fun.
PGA Professional Brendon Elliott is the founder of Little Linksters, LLC, and its nonprofit arm, the Little Linksters Association for Junior Golf Development. He is the winner of 25+ prestigious industry honors, including the 2017 PGA National Youth Player Development award. Brendon is a respected coach, businessman, writer, and golf industry expert.