One day recently at the start of the event, someone near me in their cart asked … “Hey Mike, what does a SHAMBLE mean?” I said, “It means that you will be out there an hour and a half LONGER than you expected!” While he laughed, the course employee with the microphone didn’t see the humor.
BEST BALL FORMAT – Almost ALWAYS confused by every player on the planet for a Scramble. It’s not. BEST BALL is where each player in your group plays their own ball all day long and you write down ONLY one score for the hole, the BEST BALL’s score. In other words, four players on the first hole , each playing their own ball, score 4,8,3, and 6. The BEST BALL score that you write on the scorecard for the first hole is 3. It will usually turn into a death march. You will be out there ALL. DAY. LONG. and also wish that you invited people who are actually good golfers instead of the guy who had to borrow clubs from his neighbor.
SHAMBLE FORMAT – The SHAMBLE is almost the same as the BEST BALL format but closer to the SCRAMBLE. A SHAMBLE is where everyone tees off every hole and you pick the best drive on each hole. The other three players have to go out, get their tee shots and place them at the point of the best drive. From there, every player plays their own ball until it is in the hole ( or until you can’t take it anymore and quit the hole because you are too tired to finish). Avoid choosing a SHAMBLE for golf outings. Golf outings really do NOT have a whole lot of people attending who can play golf well. If you’ve ever played in an outing with a SHAMBLE format, you are not likely to play in another golf outing… EVER.
ALTERNATE SHOT FORMAT – is typically only for two players so not really for a golf outing but I’m on a roll with the different playing formats so….. you tee off and then your partner then has to hit the next shot or “alternate.” Then you once again hit the third shot, him/her the fourth shot and the person who mercifully made the putt doesn’t tee off the next hole as it is not “their turn”. You will grow to hate your playing partner within the span of two holes and be fully sick of playing shots on the course from places that only the rabbits have seen. This is the perfect friend ruining format. I hope y’all didn’t ride to the course together that morning. If so… turn up the radio on the way home.
STABLEFORD FORMAT – A game where you score points for what you shot. Confused? You should be. Example: You get 8 points for an eagle, 6 points for a birdie, 1 point for a par, you lose 2 points for a bogey, you lose 4 points for a double bogey, etc. Unless you and your committee LOVE explaining this format 500 times and your volunteers are REALLY in love with adding up scores that you can’t read on each team’s scorecard. AVOID the STABLEFORD Format. Please.
BLIND BOGEY FORMAT – This is an individual player scoring format for an outing rather than team scoring. Your committee chooses SECRET holes on each 9 of the course prior to the event. Three holes on the front nine include a Par 3, Par 4 and a Par 5. Lather, rinse and repeat for three holes on the back nine (a Par 3, Par 4 and a Par 5). Everyone goes out to play a simple and fun round of golf. When the round is over, your scorekeepers look at those 6 holes and add up how many over par every player is on those 6 holes, double that number and take it off their final score…. (sigh), EXAMPLE…. Joe is 9 over par on your secret 6 holes and shoots an overall score of 91. You double that 9 over par to 18, deduct THAT from his real score of 91 and he ends up “shooting” “73”. Actually far easier to do the scoring than you think and it really truly is a fun way to have an event with people who don’t have an official handicap. It kinda’ levels the playing field quite well, just make sure that nobody leaks the 6 secret holes BEFORE the event starts. The grousing that you will hear will come from a good player, who had a bit of an off day, and gets beat by Sally from Accounts Payable. If Sally shoots 147 while being 42 actual strokes over par on those SECRET holes, that number is doubled and taken off Sally’s 147 for a “real score” of 63.
SCRAMBLE FORMAT– The SCRAMBLE is “THE ABSOLUTE BEST CHOICE” for a golf outing format. The SCRAMBLE is far and away the most used format for golf outings around the world for good reason. The scoring is simple and all your committee really needs to do is check the single score for each team (and then explain to half the teams that they added wrong, hahaha) In a SCRAMBLE format, every player tees off, the team decides who’s tee shot is best or in the best position and the other three players find their more errant shots and drop at the “best ball” ( why the “Best Ball format” is a misnomer). Everyone then hits from that best drive spot. Then repeat this decision for the third shot and so on. This allows people who are less accomplished players a break from the pressure of performing well at a game they never play. It also keeps everyone having fun. A legitimate twist in the SCRAMBLE rules is each team needs to use EVERY player’s drive two or three times. This keeps the best golfer in your event hog tied for 6 to 9 holes as the team chooses decent if not marginal drives by the lesser accomplished players. It is the best format by far. When each team’s scorecard is presented to you, there should only be one score on the card. Just check the numbers to see if they add up.
NOTE: “FULL FIELD” EVENTS: An event with a “full field” is typically 144 players or two teams on every hole to start the day off. It ‘ain’t gonna be a 4 hour day, but you are making a lot of money, so have another glass of wine while you wait for the outing to finish. For those lucky groups or organizations with a HUGE list of players that want to play in your event, first off, my applause! BUT, instead of turning away the last 100 to 144 players that wanted to sign up, or deciding to have a DOUBLE SHOTGUN START* simply play 8-somes. Yes, that’s right, a SCRAMBLE with two teams playing together on every hole, but separate. With 8 players playing each hole at the same time, it really won’t be that much longer of a day as BOTH teams choose their best drive from THEIR team and everyone on that team plays their shots from that point while the other team out there with you does the same. Again, 8 balls are laying out there after every shot, don’t freak out. Play is steady but not swift and the The VERY BEST THING about playing up to 288 players in ONE round, is knowing that you have a huge support system and you made a LOT of money at your golf outing! Oh, you will also have to rent carts because the golf course absolutely does not have enough.
- *DOUBLE SHOTGUN START means that you have a morning round for a big group of players and then an afternoon start for the rest of your players. The big problem with this choice is that it will almost be impossible to get everyone from the morning round to come back 5 hours later for dinner, awards, prizes and auctions.
ANOTHER IMPORTANT NOTE, A SHOTGUN IS NOT A SCORING FORMAT: It is simply the way that you are going to play that day. If you have a SMALL field, do your very best to have the course allow you to have a Shotgun Start. If they do not allow it for your small event, that means that your dinner, awards and program after golf is going to be both a mess as teams will filter in every 15 minutes or so, and nobody who tees off first will stick around for a couple of hours until the very last team arrives. A SHOTGUN START means your entire group of players starts at the same time and finishes at the same time (finger’s crossed).