Question: What is a scramble and what are the rules regarding play?
Answer: A scramble — often referred to as a captain’s choice — is when two or more players (usually four) play as a team. Each player hits a shot from the tee. The team members choose the best shot among the four and they all hit their next shot from that position. This procedure continues until a ball is holed. Most of us are familiar with this format but many have questions on how the rules should be applied.
In most cases, after the ball to be played has been determined, each player is allowed to place their ball within one club length of that spot (no nearer the hole). However, the playing condition, or lie of the ball, may not be improved. This means that if the spot is in the rough, you cannot use the one club length to move the ball to the fairway. The same applies to moving a ball from the fairway to the green or out of a hazard. When the best ball is chosen and played from the green, the one club length should not apply and the position of the ball for each player should be the mark of the original ball chosen.
In most cases, the order of play for each group is left up to that group to decide. However, in some cases, the person or committee in charge of the scramble may require that the person, whose ball is chosen as the best, must be the first to hit. In some cases, this only applies when the ball chosen is in the rough or hazard. For this reason, it is important to find out if this procedure is required before you tee off. There are other rules that may be required by the person or committee in charge.
As always, have fun playing and practicing.
Lewis is a certified teaching professional and a member of the United States Golf Teachers Federation. E-mail him questions or ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.