Golf Scramble Vs Best Ball: What’s the Difference?

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Although golf is an individual’s game and it’s mostly played solo, teaming up with your buddies for a golf tournament is always fun. And when it comes to playing team games, there are two popular golf game formats that come to mind which are the golf best ball vs scramble format.

Every year many charity golf tournaments are arranged locally. And that’s when the golf scramble vs best ball discussion arises. Despite being two different formats, they are often misunderstood to be the same by many golfers.

To make sure that you don’t make that mistake, here we will explore the different golfing terminologies of the best ball vs scramble formats dissimilarities based on their rules and benefits.

What Is A Golf Scramble Vs Best Ball?

The best ball format in golf counts the best score for a hole among teammates, however, in the scramble format, every team member hits from where the best shot lands each time on any given hole. 

What Is The Scramble Format?

The scramble format is widely played in charity tournaments and amongst amateur golfers.

In a scramble tournament, a team consists of 2 or 4 players, and each team member hits their first tee shot separately. For the next shot, the whole team or the captain of the team decides which is the best shot among the four balls.

Then the players play their second shot from one club length distance from the selected best ball. Usually, the play continues until the selected ball is holed.

The team score is decided by adding the best ball score for each hole. Hence, it’s a format where teamwork is the key to winning the game.

What Are The Rules Of A Scramble In Golf?

To make things simple, we will discuss the rules for a two-player team game where one player is new to golf and the other golfer plays off scratch. Let’s call the scramble team members player A and player B.

  • As the game starts, all team players hit the tee shot with their own ball.
  • Imagine player A could hit a good shot that reached the fairway of the golf course, whereas the other player sent the ball to the rough. Naturally, the best ball is the one that reached the fairway.
  • So the player B will retract his ball and hit the next shot from a location that’s within one club length from the best shot which in this case is Player A.
  • As each player hits the golf ball again, player A hits near the green of the golf course while the other player misses the mark and his ball ends up in a bunker.
  • Now, the ball near the green will be counted for the best score, and both the golfers will hit from that location.
  • The game proceeds in this manner until all 9 or 18 holes are played.
  • In the end, the best score for each hole is counted to decide the team’s ultimate score.

What Is The Best Ball Format In Golf?

Also known as the four-ball format, this is played by a team of 2 or 4 players. The format is usually preferred by more experienced golfers. In the best ball format, each member of the team plays their own game.

Players tee off the golf ball for the first shot. And all of them need to play with their own ball for the entire hole. After every team member has played all the holes, the best ball with the lowest score for a particular hole is counted as the team’s score.

If the ball formats are played between two players, the best shot is called ‘better ball’, and the scores are called ‘better score.’

The team aspect is present in this format, every player plays their own game and contributes equally to the team’s scorecard.

What Are The Rules of Playing Best Ball?

Once again, let’s assume there are two players in the team: player X and player Y.

  • In the best ball formats, the match starts with every player hitting one ball of their own.
  • After the tee shots, the players start from the same location where their own golf ball hits instead of going for the best ball.
  • When the two balls reach the hole, the team needs to find out who achieved the lower score.
  • So, if player X scores 3 and player Y scores 5, only score 3 will be regarded as the team score for that particular hole.
  • Both the player will keep playing in their way and keep their scores recorded on the scorecard.
  • After completing the 18 holes, event organizers will add the lowest scores for each hole, and the total sum is usually taken as the final score for the team.

What Are The Key Differences When Comparing Golf Scramble Vs Best Ball?

As you already know the basics of the two formats, it’s time to go into some deeper differences as scramble vs best ball in golf have subtle differences. Here are a few aspects that separate the two formats:


Despite being a very convenient and fun format, the scramble is slightly more complex than the best ball format. That’s because the players need to pause the game after each shot to decide the next shot. This makes it difficult and more complicated than a system where you simply play your normal golf game.

In most events, it’s a time-consuming job and can have an effect on the pace of play of a round of golf. Whereas playing the best ball format is much easier as the golfers play their normal game.


Mostly, amateur players and beginners are benefitted from the scramble format. If a player can hit one good shot, it can change the team’s game scores dramatically. Hence, a player doesn’t have to be consistently good or accurate.

This way, it’s a fun format and suitable for both high and low handicappers.

On the other hand, the best ball is better suited for more experienced golfers or pro golfers as it takes into account their score for each hole. Most players prefer to practice their best ball game, as it gives a better feel for the game and easier to get into a rhythm that is in line with a typical round of golf.


Both of these are popular golf formats and have different ways of playing them.

Depending on the various rules, there are several variations of scramble format.

Texas scramble and Florida scramble are the most common among them. In the texas scramble, every member of a team needs to contribute 4 or more drives to the game.

As for the Florida scramble, each time a certain member will skip a shot. This adds an extra layer of variety and strategy to the game.

Although there aren’t any variations of the best ball format, tournament organizers can set up new rules for a competitive game.


Is A Scramble The Same As Best Ball?

No, they’re not. Although the best ball format is similar to the scramble format, the difference lies in how the teams compete against each other.
The main difference between the two formats is that in the scramble, the best ball is on a shot-by-shot basis as opposed to taking the total score for a particular hole.

What Is Better Ball Vs Best Ball?

Better ball is a term used when 2 golfers are playing the best ball format.

Wrapping Up: Should You Use The Best Ball Vs Scramble Format?

To conclude both of these types of scoring terms in golf can be fun and which one you choose can depend on several factors.

While the scramble format is slightly more complex, it’s a great way for amateur players to enjoy golf as it helps weaker players to get a feel for the golf course.

The best ball format is also well suited to all golfers, however, it is better suited for experienced golfers, as it takes into account their score for each hole.

Most players prefer to play the best ball, as it gives a better feel for the game and easier to get into a rhythm that is in line with a typical round of golf whereas a scramble format is a fun way to play a one-off tournament or charity events which rely on quality individual golf shots.

If you are interesting in playing golf tournaments in either format, this can be done easily here.