Texas Scramble Format

The Texas Scramble is one of the most popular tournament formats in golf.

Used in charity events and pro-am golf tournaments, especially those involving professional athletes from other sports, the Texas Scramble offers numerous formats for fun-loving golfers.

All offer a combination of strategy, camaraderie, skill, and heartbreak. All are fun if played in the right spirit.

Originally called Captain’s Choice, since the leading player in each group made the choice on shot selection, the format became widely known as the Texas Scramble. It flourished in Texas during the Depression and attained great popularity in Las Vegas in the 1950s. It eventually become a staple of charity events and pro-am tournaments and was played a lot on the LPGA tour.

About 20 years ago a grade-school teacher in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula convinced Oldsmobile to sponsor a “World Series” Scramble tournament. The tournament grew in popularity over the years. Today, the National Oldsmobile Scramble pits teams of four against each other in a playoff.

The teams must win both local and regional elimination tournaments to qualify for the national event.

Basic Format

The Texas Scramble’s basic format is simple and straightforward:

Each player hits a tee shot on. The best ball, as determined by the captain, is selected for the second shot. Each member of the team hits his or her shot from that spot. The process continues until the hole is played out.

In a Pure texas Scramble no golf handicaps are used in the scoring and there are no restrictions on shot selections. Your best player’s shot can be used 18 times off the tee. The Oldsmobile Scramble uses this format except that the total number of handicap strokes in any one foursome must be at least 43.

Variations on a Theme

Over the years several variations of this format have evolved. In one, the player whose ball is selected is prohibited from hitting the next shot.

Needless to say, golfers with low golf handicaps don’t generally like this format.

In another, the variation calls for the tee shot of each player to be used at least three times. This format is an excellent way to bring everyone into the game. It also involves more strategy.

For example, some captains get the three tee shots of the weaker players used up quickly, saving the big guns for later in the round.

Other captains like to leave the weaker player’s shots until the end.

Each strategy has its advantages. A cardinal rule in a 3-shot format is never allowing a weaker player to be forced to hit the final tee shot.

If you want to make this format more of a challenge, add The Anderson Rule, which stipulates that no player’s tee shot can be used more than five times. This rule was instituted years ago after Dick Anderson, a former defensive back for the Miami Dolphins, hit such prodigious drives during a pro-am tournament that they gave his team a marked advantage.

Scramble with Handicaps

If you like to use handicaps in scoring here’s a format that will interest you. T

he team’s final round for the score is determined by taking 35 percent of the best player’s handicap and subtracting that score from the gross score.

For example, if the team shoots 64 and the handicap of the best player is 8, subtract 2.8 from 64, knocking it down to 61.2.

In this one, you use fractions to determine the winner. In a two-man scramble, add the total handicaps and divide by 8.

In setting up the tournament, the key is whether you use handicaps in the scoring. If you don’t, it’s essential to choose each team carefully, with each team having an A, B, C, and D player.

The general guideline for each rank is 0 to 10 is an A, 11 through 15 is a B, 16 for 24 is a C, and 25 and above is a D.

Try to balance off a strong C with a weak D.

Regardless of what format is used or how you set up the tournament, a scramble is fun.

Playing a Texas Scramble is a great way to spend a nice day on the course and a good way of generating money for a charity, starting the golf season off, or finishing league play.

Try it.