How to Play a 2-Man Scramble Golf Tournament

Plus How to Determine Handicaps in a 2-Person Scramble

Two golfers on the tee waiting to hit drives
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A 2-Man Scramble is a competition format that is exactly what it sounds like: a scramble in which the teams consist of two players each, rather than the more common 4-person scramble. After each golfer on a side plays a stroke, the teammates compare the results and select the best one. Both players then play the next stroke from that spot. This is repeated, including on the putting green, until the ball is holed. One team score is recorded.

The 2-man scramble is often called a 2-person scramble; the terms are interchangeable.

The 2-man scramble format can be used for a stroke-play tournament format, and as such—assuming the number of golfers in the field is the same—should require less time to complete compared to a 4-person scramble. The 2-man scramble also makes a good betting format for a group of four golf buddies who split into two-person sides. In that format, the golfers can choose either stroke play or match play (stroke play is much more commonly preferred, however).

Playing the 2-Man Scramble

Golfer A and Golfer B form our team in a 2-Man Scramble tournament. On the first tee, both golfers hit drives. They compare the results. Which ball is in the best position? Let's say Golfer B's drive is best. So Golfer A picks up his ball and moves it to the location of Golfer B's. (The most commonly used criteria for placing the moved ball is to place it within one club-length of the selected ball's position.)

Both golfers then play their second strokes from that location. They compare the results of the second strokes and, again, select the ball in the best position. The other golfer moves his or her ball to that location.

This method of play continues until the golf ball is holed to record the team score.

(If you're not entirely clear about how to play a two-man scramble after reading the above, watch the video "What Is a Scramble?" It demonstrates the scramble format using a 2-person team as an example.)

Calculating Handicaps in a 2-Person Scramble

How are team handicaps determined for a 2-Person Scramble? The governing bodies (USGA and R&A) do not provide rules for handicapping scrambles. However, the most commonly used method for handicapping a 2-man scramble is also the one recommended by the USGA.

  • First, both golfers on a team determine their course handicaps.
  • Then take 35-percent of Golfer A's course handicap;
  • and add it to 15-percent of Golfer B's course handicap.

Where Golfer A is the lower-handicapped player on the team and Golfer B the higher-handicapped.

Let's do an example. Say Golfer A's handicap is 8 and Golfer B's is 21. Thirty-five percent of 8 is 2.8; 15 percent of 21 is 3.15. So add 2.8 and 3.15 to get 5.95, and this team's scramble handicap is 6 (round up or down to the nearest whole number).

Another method that is sometimes used is to add the two course handicaps together, then divide by four. So, sticking with the numbers used above, Golfer A's 8 is added to Golfer B's 21 to get 29. Divide 29 by 4 and you get 7.25, which rounds to a team handicap of 7.

As you can see, the two methods often produce a slightly different result so it's important to verify with tournament organizers which method is in use. The first method (35/15) is the more common one for tournament play; the second method is often used by groups of four who are splitting into two-person sides for a friendly competition.