How to Play a Florida Scramble Golf Tournament

Plus How to Calculate Handicaps for this Format

four golfers on the putting green
(Atlantide Phototravel/Corbis Documentary/Getty Images)

A Florida Scramble is a golf tournament format that is a twist on a basic scramble.Unlike in a regular scramble, in a Florida Scramble one golfer on the team skips each stroke played. The exception is each hole's drive, which all four golfers play. But after that, until the ball is holed, the golfer whose shot is selected skips, or sits out, the next shot.

We'll explain in more detail below, but first note that a Florida Scramble is also known by several other names. Among them are Step Aside Scramble (or just Step Aside), Dropout Scramble (or just Dropout), Stand Aside Scramble, Mexican Standoff and Stand Out. If you see any of those names, the format in use is probably the same as a Florida Scramble.

A Florida Scramble is also very similar to another format that is called the Miami Scramble.

Key Takeaways

  • A "Florida Scramble" is a golf tournament format that is a variation on a regular scramble, although both are (usually) played by four-person teams.
  • After the four team members each hit a drive, the best of those shots is chosen. In a Florida Scramble, the golfer whose shot is selected sits out the following stroke.
  • That means that in a Florida Scramble, aside from the drives, each stroke on a hole is played by only three of the four golfers on a team.

Reminder: How a Basic Scramble Works

As noted, in large part the Florida Scramble works the same as a basic scramble. So here's a reminder on how a basic scramble is played (we'll use a four-person team in our example).

  • Golfers A, B, C and D each hit drives.
  • They compare the results of the four drives. Which one is best? Let's say Golfer B's drive was best. So Golfers A, C, and D pick up their golf balls and move them to the spot of Golfer B's drive.
  • All four then play their second strokes from that spot.
  • They compare the results of the four second shots. Which is best? Maybe Golfer A had the best second shot. So B, C, and D pick up their balls and move them to the spot of Golfer A's second shot.
  • All four play their third strokes from that spot.
  • And so on, continuing in this fashion (including on putts) until the ball is in the hole.

The Twist in a Florida Scramble

A Florida Scramble begins the same way as a regular scramble: All golfers on the team play their tee shots. They compare the results. Which drive is best?

In our example above, Golfer B's drive was best. Here's the twist in a Florida Scramble: Golfers A, C, and D move their golf balls to the spot of Golfer B's drive. And A, C , and D play their second shots... ​but Golfer B does not. Because B's drive was used, B sits out the second stroke.​​

In the scramble example above, Golfer A hit the best second shot. So Golfers C and D move their balls to that spot, and Golfer B puts his ball at that spot, and those three play their third strokes. But Golfer A does not. (The general rule is that golfers moving their golf balls to the spot of the selected stroke can place their balls within one club-length, but always check the tournament rules.)

That's the key to the Florida Scramble: The golfer whose shot is selected sits out the next stroke. Or steps aside or drops out, you might say, which is why this format is sometimes called Step Aside or Dropout.

So in a Florida Scramble, all four team members hit drives, but on each following stroke on the hole, only three of the four team members are hitting shots. One golfer (the one whose previous stroke was selected as the team's best) sits out each new stroke.

On the next hole, all four golfers tee off, and then the format — three play shots, one sits out — begins again.

Calculating Handicaps for a Florida Scramble

There is no official or universally followed rule for generating a team handicap in a Florida Scramble (or any other type of scramble). So be sure to check with tournament organizers and follow their instructions.

The most widely used formula for team handicaps in a Florida Scramble is this:

  • All four golfers calculate their course handicaps.
  • Then, with Golfer A being the team's best golfer and Golfer D its highest-handicapper, take 20-percent of Golfer A's course handicap, 15-percent of B's, 10-percent of C's and 5-percent of D's, and add them together.

Round up or down, and that number is the team handicap.

An alternative method that is sometimes used is to add all the team members' course handicaps together, then divide by twice the number of golfers on the team. So a 4-person team adds together all four course handicaps and divides by eight.

But the specific handicapping allowance used — if one is used at all — is up to the tournament organizers.

Benefits of a Florida Scramble

One advantage of the Florida Scramble format over a standard scramble is time savings: A Florida Scramble, in theory, takes less time to play than a traditional scramble, because on every shot except the drives only three golfers (rather than four) are playing.

Also, making the golfer who hit the previous best shot sit out the next stroke helps to spread out the contributions of the team members. The higher-handicap golfers on the team have more of a chance to contribute shots to the team.

The downside, of course, is that every time you hit the team's best stroke, you have to skip the next one.