HOW TO PICK THE RIGHT FORMAT FOR YOUR GOLF OUTING

An outing qualifies as a holiday on a golfer’s calendar, and with good reason. It offers a group dynamic to a mostly individual sport, often serves as respite from the office, and the amenities. There are usually plenty of amenities.

But, while there’s no such thing as a bad outing, there are degrees of excellence, and the type of playing format can be a major factor in that standing.

And make no mistake, the format does matter. What is the demographic of the group? What is the outing’s purpose? Is there an aspiration of competition, or will score be ancillary? Where is the outing taking place? With multiple options on the plate, an organizer might feel overwhelmed or unsure what format is the right call.

Fear not; below is a how-to guide to help cater to your outing’s needs, resources and field.

Best ball gross and/or net

How it works: Also known as best ball. Competitors play their own ball throughout the round, with the lowest score on each hole counting. “Net” means including handicaps into scoring.

The preferred format in more serious competitions (particularly in gross play) or that have fields of less than 60 players. Be careful: this tends to promote more of a “tournament” vibe than a carefree outing. Two-man best ball is best served at country clubs or courses with a host of events on the schedule than a once-a-year outing.

However, a competitive setting is not a necessary ingredient for four-man best ball, especially when net is involved. In that same breath, the golfers in question do posses a sense of earnestness with their game, which is why they want to play their own ball rather than receive the granted amnesty of a scramble.

If you go the net route, try to slot the teams with one low handicapper, two mids and a high. Ensures a balanced contest and helps curb serious sandbaggin’.

Men playing golf on course
Dave and Les Jacobs

Scramble

How it works: Each player hits a tee shot, selecting the “best” out of the bunch to play their second shot from, usually within a club-length of that spot. Group repeats this process until the hole is finished.

Best suited for fields mostly comprised of chops, novices, or groups that prominently feature non-golfers. Eliminates some of the hacking while keeping everyone engaged. Also appropriate for charity or fundraising functions, providing the facade of a contest yet keeping an insouciant atmosphere to the proceedings.

Note: Some scrambles force a group to use at least one drive from every player, prohibiting a team from feeding off the same player’s tee ball every time. While there’s good intention behind it, it’s also at odds with the informal ethos of a scramble. Plus, it could throw beginners for a loop. Our recommendation is to bench this provision.

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