How to Figure Handicaps for Scramble Golf
The USGA Handicap System is designed to promote a level of equity among players of all skill levels. An official USGA handicap is required to play at numerous golf courses and participate in USGA-sanctioned tournaments. It also provides a system of fairness in a variety of non-sanctioned tournaments. Among these casual, non-sanctioned tournaments is the scramble, a competition that combines the shots of either a four- or two-member team to create a composite score. While there are no official rules for a scramble, the USGA provides recommendations for these tournaments in section 9-4 of its handicap manual (usga.org).
Calculate each player's individual handicap. The formula for calculating individual handicaps is quite complex and accounts for your average score based on at least 20 full rounds, the USGA's course rating for each course you play, and each course's slope rating, or its degree of difficulty. You can use an online handicap system to maintain your handicap.
Calculate your individual scramble handicaps based on the USGA's handicap allowance recommendations. While the USGA does not provide rules for a scramble, it recommends that each group contains an A, B, C, and D player. The handicaps required to fit these categories may vary depending on the organizers of your tournament, but the USGA recommends that the A player reduce his handicap by 20 percent, B player by 15 percent, C player by 10 percent and D player by 5 percent for a four-person scramble. For a two-person scramble, reduce the A player's handicap by 35 percent and the B player's handicap by 10 percent.
For example, if the A player of a four-person scramble has a handicap of 6, his handicap for the purpose of the tournament would be 4.8.
Calculate your group's scramble handicap. You can do this using an online calculator, such as the one found on leaderboard.com. This calculator will combine the individual handicaps of each player with the course slope to determine a composite handicap for your group. For example, a group with individual handicaps of 4.8, 12, 22 and 36, playing a course with a standard slope of 113, would be granted a composite handicap of 2.7. Rounding up, this group would be allowed to subtract 3 strokes from its total score at the end of the round.
You need to complete 20 full rounds of 18 holes to obtain an official USGA handicap. Don't wait until the last minute before your tournament to obtain a handicap.
Graham Ulmer began writing professionally in 2006 and has been published in the "Military Medicine" journal. He is a certified strength-and-conditioning specialist with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Ulmer holds a Master of Science in exercise science from the University of Idaho and a Bachelor of Science in psychology from Washington State University.