What is the Difference Between Best ball and a Scramble?

“Scramble” and “Best ball” are the most common formats in golf. 

In Best Ball, each player on the team plays their ball throughout the round. The team’s lowest score for each hole is counted as the team’s score for that hole. 

In Scramble, all players hit from the same spot. Each team selects its best shot, and every other player hits their second shot from that spot. The process is repeated until the hole is finished, and the team records the score. 

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Best Ball vs. Scramble

The number of players

Both Best ball and Scramble can be played with no limit on the number of players, but usually from two to four.


The strategy in Best Ball is to play individual hole scores, and the team score will be the lowest player score, regardless of how well all other team members do on that hole. In Scramble, on the other hand, all players in a team have an opportunity to hit every shot, then the best hit is chosen, and the next hit is from this place until the ball is in the hole. The score of the team is the number of the best hits. In conclusion, Best Ball emphasizes individual skill and strategy, while Scramble requires more team cooperation and communication. 

Putting methodology

In Best Ball, each player puts their ball. When all team members have finished putting, the lowest stroked putt is counted as the team score for that hole. 

In Scramble, one ball is selected after a tee shot, and every other player hits their second shot from that spot. The process continues until the ball is in the hole. Then only one player puts out for the entire team, and this score is recorded for that hole. 


The scores in Best Ball are based on the lowest individual score of each hole, while Scramble is based on the cumulative scores. 

Tee Shots

In Best Ball, each player makes their tee shot and must play with that ball for the remainder of the hole. Otherwise, all players tee off together in Scramble but then take turns hitting from that point until the ball is holed out. 


Best Ball tends to be faster than Scramble since there’s no need to decide which shot will be used as a team approach. With Scramble, it takes longer because each team has to discuss and decide which shot will be played by all players. 


Best Ball is a great format for a more competitive round of golf, while Scramble allows players to work together and communicate. Best Ball also will enable players to practice their course management skills and make smart decisions on the golf course, while Scramble requires teams to devise a strategy and stick with it. 

Both Best ball and Scramble are fun formats that promote teamwork and competition among golfers, so no matter which one you choose, you can be sure that you will have an enjoyable round of golf. 

How to Play a ‘Best Ball’ Golf Tournament

“Best Ball” is a popular golf tournament format where multiple golfers make up a team and compare their scores on each hole. The lowest score among them, also known as the “best ball,” counts as the team score. Most commonly, teams consist of 4 golfers, but can also be played with 3 or 2 players.

The tournament format is typically stroke play, with the team’s total score being the sum of the best balls for each hole after 18 holes. Handicaps are often applied in “Best Ball” tournaments, with men receiving 80% of their course handicap and women receiving 90%. The format can be enjoyable for groups of golfers, especially when one player is significantly better than the others.

Benefits of Best Ball

Advantages of Best Ball Golf Format:

  • Equal competition: Best ball allows golfers of varying skill levels to compete against each other in a fair and balanced manner.
  • Combined scorekeeping: Players can keep track of both their individual score and the team score, giving them a comprehensive understanding of their performance.
  • Scalable team size: Best ball can be played with teams of various sizes, typically two or four players, making it flexible for a range of group sizes.
  • Focus on individual play: Best Ball golf offers several advantages for players who want to focus on their individual game. It allows them to play and score as they normally would, avoiding pressure to attempt shots outside of their comfort zone.
  • Straightforward gameplay: Compared to a scramble, best ball is a simple format that doesn’t require extensive consultations between team members. Players can play their own ball as they usually would, making it less complex.

Overall, best ball golf format provides a fun and competitive environment for players to showcase their skills and work together towards a common goal. It combines the best of individual and team play, making it an enjoyable and inclusive experience for golfers of all levels.

The Variations of Best Balls

The Variations of Best Balls

There are several variations of Best Ball golf tournaments, including:

  • Two-Person Best Ball: A format played by two golfers, where each player plays their own ball and the best score between the two players on each hole is used as the team score.
  • Three-Person Best Ball: In this format, three golfers play their own ball, and the best score among the three players on each hole is used as the team score. This variation provides a balance between individual and team play and allows players to work together while still focusing on their individual game.
  • Four-Person Best Ball: A format played by four golfers, where each player plays their own ball, and the best score between the four players on each hole is used as the team score.
  • Alternate Shot Best Ball: Two teams of two players compete against each other, taking turns hitting shots, and the best score is counted for the team score.
  • Modified Best Ball: In this variation, two or more players play their own ball, but only the best score on certain holes is used as the team score.
  • Chapman System: A form of two-person best ball where players switch between playing each other’s ball on alternate shots.
  • Better Ball of Two: A two-person best ball where each golfer plays their own ball, but the better score of the two golfers is used as the team score.
  • Nassau: A popular best ball played between two players over three separate nine-hole matches. The winner is determined by the combined score of the first and second nine holes, as well as the entire 18-hole round.

How Do You Win the Best Ball in Golf?

How Do You Win the Best Ball in Golf?

To win a Best Ball golf competition, your team has to get the lowest combined score of the players on the team. Here are some tips to help your team achieve that goal:

  • Know your strengths and weaknesses – Understand which club works best for each player so that they can decide the most effective strategy for their team. 
  • Agree on a plan of attack – As a team, you should agree on the position your players will play to get the best possible result. 
  • Play smarter, not harder – Focus on accuracy instead of distance when it comes to tee shots and lay-ups during Best Ball play. 
  • Make sure all putts are given an equal chance – Many times, two or more players may line up putts from different angles or distances; make sure everyone gets an opportunity to attempt their shot before moving on. 
  • Choose wisely – Take into account the difficulty of each shot and choose the most advantageous one. 
  • Keep communication flowing – Don’t be afraid to ask questions or express opinions to ensure everyone is on the same page. 
  • Utilize teamwork – Work together and share ideas to develop the best plan possible for success. 

By following these tips, you can put your team in the best position to succeed and win a Best Ball competition.

Best ball golf is a great way for golfers of all levels to enjoy the game and compete in an engaging and competitive environment. Whether you are playing with two, three, or four players, this format provides an exciting opportunity for teams to work together and showcase their skills. With its variations of play, best ball tournaments can be tailored to the preferences of players and provide a unique way to enjoy the game. So why not give it a try?

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Ayesha Dhurue

I've been writing since I was 13. Poetry, aphorisms, and short stories that I still find in old notebooks every once in a while. I started building my freelancing portfolio with my first project back in 2013-14. And ever since then I've been committed to writing articles across multiple genres: reviews and guides, copywriting, and technical writing; any type of content I could get my hands on, really.

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