How to Figure the Handicap for Scramble Golf

golf ball on tee

A scramble is a golf competition where each team member hits a shot. Then all members play from the position of the team member who had the best previous shot. Scrambles can be played with two to four players on a team. Although the format allows players of all abilities to compete, there can be a wide range of scores due to differences in skill levels of the players. Sometimes handicaps are used to even out the competition but it is difficult to choose a handicap method that is both fair and simple to implement. The USGA suggests a method for handicapping this event.

Determine a handicap for each of the players. If a player has a USGA handicap index, use it. If any players do not have official USGA handicaps, estimate the most likely score they would make playing alone on an average par 72 golf course. Subtract 72 from this score to form an estimated handicap.

Determine the “course handicap” for each player for the specific set of tees to be used. Use the official or estimated handicap index from step 1 and look up the course handicap in the table for the course where the competition will be held. If the table is not available, look up the course’s slope rating and use the online course handicap calculator provided by the USGA.

Organize the players according to their course handicaps: A, B, C, and D with A being the player with the lowest handicap.

For a two person scramble take 35 percent of the A player’s course handicap and 15 percent of the B player’s course handicap. Add these together to establish the team handicap.

For a four person scramble use 20 percent of the A player handicap, 15 percent from the B player, 10 percent from the C player, and 5 percent from the D player. Add these together to form the team handicap.

If there is a disparity in skill levels within the teams, impose a restriction on the use of drives from each player. Require that two or three tee shots be used from each player for the 18 holes.


A number of other formulas have been devised in an attempt to establish fair handicaps for scramble competitions. You may wish to try some of them. Refer to the Computer Scramble Handicapping website for descriptions of other methods. The site also offers a free download of their computer program that implements the Score-Count System, a detailed computerized method for scramble handicapping.