Best Ball vs Scramble in Golf: What’s the Difference?

Golf, with its lush greens and serene landscapes, has a unique charm that draws enthusiasts of all skill levels. That’s why the enthusiasm rises to fever pitch when a tournament is on the horizon. There’s something almost irresistible about the idea of golfing with your ride-or-dies and winning the prize.

Whether you’re a seasoned player or just starting, understanding different amateur tournament formats can greatly impact the strategies you use for game play. Let’s look at two of the most popular formats: Best Ball vs Scramble.

What is Best Ball vs Scramble?

Quick Guide

Best Ball

two golf players on a golf course discussing best ball vs scramble formats and which is best
  • Teams of 2 or 4
  • Each player plays their own ball for each hole.
  • At the end of each hole, the lowest score among teammates is used as that hole’s score.
  • Team with the lowest cumulative score at end of round wins.
  • Emphasis on individual play while still contributing to team outcome.
quick guide


Best Ball vs Scramble in Golf: What’s the Difference?
  • Teams of 2 or more players
  • Each player tees off on every hole.
  • The team decides on the best shot and all players move their balls to that spot.
  • Play continues in this manner until the ball is holed.

Best Ball Format: How to Play

Best Ball, also known as Four-Ball, is a format that pits teams of two against each other. Each player on the team plays their own ball throughout the round, and at the end of each hole, the lowest score among the teammates is counted as the team score.

You can also play with teams of four who advance through each hole as a complete team. The approach for counting score and winning is the same as with two players.

What I love about Best Ball vs Scramble is the individual accountability that best ball maintains while still fostering a team spirit. It’s a format that let’s each player advance through their own game, and the team gets rewarded with the lowest score.

How the Best Ball Format Works at a Tournament:

  • Teams consist of two or more players
  • Each player plays their own ball throughout the round.
  • At the end of each hole, the lowest score among teammates is recorded as the team score.
  • The team with the lowest cumulative score at the end of the round wins.

Advantages of the Best Ball Format:

  • Encourages individual performance within a team setting.
  • Allows players to showcase their strengths.
  • Fosters camaraderie and teamwork.

Real Life Best Ball Example

During a Best Ball tournament, my teammate and I found ourselves facing a challenging par 3. While I managed to land my ball safely on the green, my partner’s shot fell short, landing in the bunker. Despite the setback, my partner executed a remarkable sand shot, setting us up for a potential birdie. This scenario exemplifies the essence of Best Ball – leveraging each other’s strengths to achieve collective success. In the end, my teammate had the birdie. Even though I play a safer game, she managed to produce the lowest score.

Strategy Tips:

  • Communicate effectively with your teammate.
  • Capitalize on each other’s strengths.
  • Focus on consistency rather than taking unnecessary risks.

Scramble Format: How to Play

On the flip side, the Scramble is a format that emphasizes teamwork and collaboration.

In a Scramble, all members of the team tee off, and then they collectively decide which shot is the best. From there, all players move their balls to the chosen spot and play from there. This format is dynamic and encourages creativity.

I recall a memorable Scramble tournament where my team faced a challenging par 5. With each member contributing their best shots, we managed to secure an eagle, much to our delight. We truly leveraged the best of everyone to get to that outcome. Scramble is all about synergy and collective problem-solving, making it an exhilarating experience every time.

How the Scramble Format Works:

  • Teams consist of two or more players.
  • Each player tees off on every hole.
  • The team decides on the best shot and all players move their balls to that spot.
  • Play continues in this manner until the ball is holed.

Advantages of Scramble:

  • Promotes teamwork and collaboration.
  • Allows for creative shot selection.
  • Encourages risk-taking and innovation.

Example Scenario:

During a golf Scramble event, my team encountered a difficult approach shot over water. While one of my teammates opted for a conservative approach, another suggested a bold shot over the hazard. Despite initial hesitation, we collectively decided to take the risk. To our delight, the shot landed safely on the green, setting us up for a birdie opportunity. This experience highlighted the thrill of collective decision-making and the rewards of calculated risks in Scramble.

Strategy Tips:

  • Encourage open communication within the team.
  • Take calculated risks when necessary.
  • Utilize each player’s strengths to maximize performance.

Key Differences Between Best Ball vs Scramble

The distinction between Best Ball and Scramble tournaments lies in their approach to teamwork and decision-making.

Best Ball maintains individuality, allowing players to shine independently while contributing to a shared goal.

On the other hand, Scramble thrives on collaboration, fostering a sense of unity and cooperation among team members.

Each format has its unique charm, catering to different playing styles and preferences.

Team Dynamics

  • Best Ball emphasizes individual performance within a team.
  • Scramble promotes collective decision-making and teamwork.

Decision-Making Process

  • In Best Ball, players make independent decisions regarding their shots.
  • In Scramble, decisions are made collectively to determine the best shot for the team.

Risk-Reward Balance

  • Best Ball encourages conservative play and consistency.
  • Scramble allows for more aggressive shot selection and risk-taking.

Impact on Gameplay

  • Best Ball tends to have a more measured pace of play.
  • Scramble can be more dynamic and unpredictable due to collective decision-making.

Examples of Preferences

  • Best Ball may be preferred by players who value individual performance and consistency.
  • Scramble may appeal to those who enjoy teamwork and creative shot-making.

Comparing Performance Metrics:

Analyzing performance metrics between Best Ball and Scramble reveals intriguing insights. In Best Ball, consistency and accuracy are paramount, as the lowest individual scores contribute to the team’s success. Meanwhile, Scramble showcases the power of collective effort, where innovative shot selections and risk-taking can lead to remarkable results. Both formats offer opportunities for players to showcase their skills in distinct ways, adding depth to the golfing experience.

Statistical Differences:

  • Best Ball rewards consistency and precision.
  • Scramble showcases the impact of teamwork and creativity.

Player Performance:

  • Players may exhibit different strengths and weaknesses in each format.
  • Analyzing performance metrics can provide valuable insights for improvement.

Impact on Strategy:

  • Strategies may vary depending on the format and team dynamics.
  • Understanding performance metrics can inform strategic decisions during gameplay.

Choosing the Right Format:

When it comes to selecting between Best Ball vs Scramble, it’s essential to consider factors such as skill level, team dynamics, and personal preferences. For me, the choice often depends on the occasion and the group I’m playing with. If I’m looking for a competitive yet collaborative experience, I lean towards Scramble. However, when I crave the thrill of individual performance coupled with team spirit, Best Ball is my go-to choice.

Factors to Consider:

  • Skill level of the players.
  • Preferences for individual or team-oriented gameplay.
  • Dynamics within the playing group.
  • Goals and objectives for the round (e.g., competitive vs. recreational).

Adapting Formats:

  • Both formats offer flexibility for adaptation based on the group’s preferences.
  • Experimenting with different formats can enhance the overall golfing experience.

Common FAQs about Best Ball vs Scramble

Answering common questions about rules and gameplay can provide clarity for players new to these formats.


  • What happens if one player performs significantly better than the other in Best Ball?
  • How do we decide on the best shot in Scramble?
  • Are there any restrictions on shot selection in either format?


  • In Best Ball, the team score is determined by the lowest score among teammates on each hole.
  • In Scramble, the team collectively decides on the best shot, considering factors such as distance and lie.
  • Both formats allow for flexibility in shot selection, encouraging players to make strategic decisions based on the situation.

Wrap Up

As we conclude our exploration of Best Ball vs Scramble golf formats, I’m reminded of the diverse tapestry that golf weaves. Whether you prefer the precision of Best Ball or the camaraderie of Scramble, there’s something uniquely enriching about each format.

Some tournaments require walking the course, so you’ll want to have a golf push cart or other means to get your bag from hole to hole.

Personally, I love the memories and lessons learned from both formats, each contributing to my growth as a golfer and a teammate. Tournaments are fun, period. So, the next time you step onto the fairway, consider the format that best resonates with you, and embark on a journey filled with camaraderie, competition, and unforgettable moments on the greens.

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