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# How do we handicap 2-vs-2 scramble matches?

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We've got a golf weekend coming up; 12 guys comprising two teams of six and we're playing three rounds.  Each round is going to two guys from one team playing scramble format against two guys from the other team playing scramble format.  Rather than total score for the round, we're just going to make it match play.

What we don't know is how to determine the number of strokes that should be given/received each round.  (Well actually how many holes a team would give or receive a stroke on.)  It wouldn't be an issue if we were all similar in handicap but this group has handicaps ranging from 2 to 25.  First thought was just determine strokes given/received based on the average handicap of the two players playing together than round, but the first match we looked at doesn't seem right.

For example, let assume we've got Team 1 with a 5 hcp and a 21 hcp going against Team 2 with an 11 hcp and a 21 hcp.  If you take the average, Team 1 (13 hcp avg) would give three strokes to Team 2 (16 hcp avg).  If a 5 were playing against an 11, he'd give six strokes -- which is how it should be.  But if we take the average in the above scenario and assume the two high handicappers cancel each other out, you've got an 11 hcp going against a 5 hcp but only getting three strokes.

Anyone have experience with or thoughts on how to fairly handicap this kind of format?  Thanks in advance.

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The handicaps have to be individual, not team.  Just have each player record their own gross and net score on the scorecard, then use the net as the player's score for the whole.

So you determine each player's course handicap and mark up the scorecard before the round.  Put a mark next to each hole that the player gets strokes based on his own handicap.  Put a slash through each score box.  Above the slash the player writes his gross score, and he subtracts the strokes he gets on that hole to determine his net and puts that number below the slash.

So each player does that, and the team score is either the total of the two player's score below the slash or the best of the two, however you're doing it.

I'm doing the same thing in a couple of weeks but stroke play instead of match play, since we will not have multiple rounds.

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Originally Posted by nickel_aTm

We've got a golf weekend coming up; 12 guys comprising two teams of six and we're playing three rounds.  Each round is going to two guys from one team playing scramble format against two guys from the other team playing scramble format.  Rather than total score for the round, we're just going to make it match play.

What we don't know is how to determine the number of strokes that should be given/received each round.  (Well actually how many holes a team would give or receive a stroke on.)  It wouldn't be an issue if we were all similar in handicap but this group has handicaps ranging from 2 to 25.  First thought was just determine strokes given/received based on the average handicap of the two players playing together than round, but the first match we looked at doesn't seem right.

For example, let assume we've got Team 1 with a 5 hcp and a 21 hcp going against Team 2 with an 11 hcp and a 21 hcp.  If you take the average, Team 1 (13 hcp avg) would give three strokes to Team 2 (16 hcp avg).  If a 5 were playing against an 11, he'd give six strokes -- which is how it should be.  But if we take the average in the above scenario and assume the two high handicappers cancel each other out, you've got an 11 hcp going against a 5 hcp but only getting three strokes.

Anyone have experience with or thoughts on how to fairly handicap this kind of format?  Thanks in advance.

I'm assuming that by playing against you mean match play. If so, 4BBB (four ball better ball, which is two pairs competing) is a very common format of match play and fair handicapping is well established in club competition (at least here in the UK). It's also a great format, and gives everyone the opportunity to play their own ball to the hole, but also allows someone to pick up and let their team mate finish if they're out of the hole.

Each player receives a number of shots equal to their hanicap, minus the lowest handicap in the group, with the difference multiplied by 0.75. So if I'm off 14, and the lowest in the match (group) is a 7 I receive (14 - 7) * 0.75 = 5.25 (always rounds up) so 6 shots.

If you'd prefer to play scramble, the only widely accepted handicapping formula I know related to 4 person teams and stroke play.

Originally Posted by dsc123

The handicaps have to be individual, not team.  Just have each player record their own gross and net score on the scorecard, then use the net as the player's score for the whole.

If it's a scramble, you can't do individual handicaps or scores.

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Oh, you're right.  I was thinking of better ball.

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Originally Posted by dsc123

Oh, you're right.  I was thinking of better ball.

You still need to adjust the handicaps for better ball, otherwise a team of two high handicaps are unfairly advantaged against a team of two lower handicaps.

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USGA rules for match play in formats like this are that each individual receives 90% of their handicap and that is the differential between two players on the same team is more than 8 strokes than an additional 10% is taken off.

I'm doing this by memory, the best person to ask would be the pro at your club or at the local golf course.  They do this type of things all the time for charity events and the likes.

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4 man scramble with 2 man teams, handicapped, seems to be called Ambrose:

http://www.golfselect.com.au/armchair/formats.aspx?golfFormat_id=1

Basically the method seems to be add the two handicaps together, but instead of dividing by 2 to get the team handicap, you divide by 4 (always 2x the number of players, so if it were 3 man teams, divide by 6, etc.).  Of course, this just makes your concern worse, as that would mean the (5,21) team would have an Ambrose HC of 6.5, and the (11,21) team would have an Ambrose handicap of 8, so the (11,21) team would only get a stroke on two holes!

Presumably the idea is that with a partner where you're always hitting from the best spot, you're less likely to need as many strokes?

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I don`t think the 3 strokes given in your example seems too far off.  I`m not certain, but my intuition is that less strokes should be given in a scramble format than in better ball.  I also suspect that the handicap of the better player is more important than the higher player.  Some of it likely depends on if each team is required to use a minimum number of shots from each player.

How are you selecting the teams?  The handicap issue might be minimized if low handicappers are paired with high handicappers as opposed to having two lows and two highs.

It would be nice if you post back and let us know how it went...

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It is difficult to handicap scrambles unless you divide the playes up into groups according to their handicap ranges and then give each team an A and B player or an A,B,C,D player etc.  A team with a 5 and 11 handicap player (total 16 handicap) will have an advantage against a team with two 8 handicap players.

This is from the USGA.

Section 9

Scramble and Skins Handicap Allowance

Q. Does the USGA® have handicap allowance recommendations for a scramble or skins event?

A. Visit Section 9-4 of the USGA Handicap System manual for handicap allowances recommended by the USGA Handicap Department. Since a scramble is not played under the principles of The Rules of Golf , it will not be found in the manual. However, this recommendation seems to work well for most groups, regardless of minimum number of drives required or other special conditions:

 4-Person Scramble*: 2-Person Scramble*: 20% A 35% A 15% B 15% B 10% C 5% D * Based on a percentage of Course Handicap™

The USGA does not have a formal recommendation for a skins event. A skins event closest resembles an individual stroke play competition so the committee may decide to use a full Course Handicap and let the player take strokes as they fall. With the dynamics of all handicaps that could compete, it is impossible to recommend a blanket allowance. Try experimenting with the allowance that works best among your group.

Please visit Section 9-4 of the USGA Handicap System manual for further reference.

If this isn't something you can do, I would go with the program referenced on the previous post.

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