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If you’re new to golf, it can be incredibly difficult to get your head around all the weird and wacky terminologies that are a part of the game.
Once you’ve worked out what bogies and birdies are, it’s time to learn about all the different formats of golf competitions that take place.
Some golf formats are just made-up games that a group of buddies would play together at their local golf course, but others are actually used in professional golf competitions around the world to make the game more exciting for spectators.
Two formats like this are best ball and scramble. They’re both team game formats of competitive golf that make for great action on the course and are very popular among fans.
In this article, we’ll be taking a look at both of these formats, finding the similarities and differences, and helping you decide which one might be best for you to try out yourself!
What Is Best Ball?
Best ball is a format that is used in plenty of high-level professional tournaments and is often played by the most experienced and skilled golfers in the world.
The game requires two teams of two golfers who compete against each other.
Every one of the four golfers involved plays their own ball on each hole and the best score of a player on each team is recorded for that team’s score.
We know this can sound a little confusing, but it’s really quite simple if we look at an example:
Team 1 is made up of player A and player B. Team 2 is made up of player C and player D.
One each hole, A, B, C, and D will all play their own ball, one shot after another. If player A scores 5 on a hole and player B scores 4, only player B’s score is recorded for team 1.
On the other hand, if player C scores 4 on the same hole, player D only needs to beat that score to do anything for team 2. Therefore, if player D gets to their 4th stroke and still hasn’t made the hole, they will concede their last few shots and mark team 2’s score as 4.
Confused yet? Hopefully, this will make a little more sense after reading it a couple of times.
However, the best way to get your head around some complicated rules is to watch a game yourself and see how much fun it can be!
What Is Scramble?
Much like best ball, scramble is commonly played with two players on each team. However, the number of teams that can compete in a single game is not limited to just two.
Essentially, the way it works is that each golfer plays their own ball and is trying to get to the hole in as few strokes as possible – nothing too complicated so far.
After the initial tee shot on each hole, both members of a team can decide to take their next shot from wherever either of their tee shots landed.
This process then repeats until one member of the team has made it to the hole.
Let’s look at the same example as before:
Players A and B (both on the same team) take their tee shot separately. Player A’s shot lands 100ft from the hole with no obstructions in their way. Player B’s shot lands 120ft from the hole with a tree in the way.
Therefore, the team can decide that both players will take their next shot from the better position, 100ft from the hole with no obstructions.
If player A makes the hole on their 5th stroke, the score for that team is 5.
Similarities And Differences Between Best Ball And Scramble
Both Best Ball and Scramble are very similar in terms of what happens on the course. Both require two people per team to play a round of golf together and there is plenty of strategic thinking that has to be done between the two of them.
Both formats tend to benefit golfers with a lower skill level who are more prone to making mistakes. This is because they will always have a teammate who can rectify these mistakes with their own shots.
Of course, if all the teams consist of two bad golfers, it will still be a pretty chaotic game but definitely a fun one!
In terms of differences between the two formats, there really aren’t many except for the obvious change of rules.
Both formats require a similar amount of teamwork, risk-taking, strategy to be successful and there isn’t really one format that favors more skilled players than the other.
What Makes Best Ball And Scramble Exciting?
Like we said at the start, both best ball and scramble formats are pretty exciting and very popular among fans of golf. But what is it about these games that makes them so popular?
The main benefit of both of these formats is that they encourage ambitious and risky plays from every player.
In best ball, this is true of the second player on a team to take each shot. For example, if player A makes the hole in 5 strokes, player B is encouraged (pretty much forced) to try to make it in fewer strokes.
There’s no point in playing it safe and trying to draw level with your teammate because only one player’s score is recorded, so you’ll see a lot of risky chip shots from well outside the green as players try to get lucky and make a birdie or an eagle.
The same is true of scramble because, again, only one player’s score is recorded for each team.
Let’s say player A gets their approach shot very close to the hole and will easily tap it in on their next stroke.
Knowing that they have a guaranteed hole on the next stroke, player B should try to get their shot into the hole, regardless of how difficult a shot it might be.
Of course, these more ambitious shots don’t go in nearly as much as the safer ones, but sometimes someone gets lucky, and it makes for great viewing entertainment!
Related article: Stableford Golf Scoring System
Playing a regular game of golf can get a little repetitive if you’re playing on the same course every week, so why not try out a new format with some friends to spice things up a little?
We can guarantee if you try out either of the formats we’ve looked at in this article, you’re in for a good time!