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Devil Ball Golf

Teeing Off: The art of the scramble

Shane Bacon
Devil Ball Golf

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A star-studded Ryder Cup scramble team — Getty Images

Welcome to Teeing Off, where Devil Ball editor Shane Bacon and national columnist Jay Busbee take a day's topic and smack it all over the course. Suggest a future topic by hitting us on Twitter at@shanebacon and @jaybusbee. Today we talk about the best format for recreational golfers.

Bacon: This weekend me and three of my good buddies signed up for a four-man scramble, something we do a few times a year. We've had some success in the past, and continued that on Sunday, shooting a solid score to win the friendly tournament. The problem was, everyone was grumbling when our score posted, tossing the C-word out (that is cheaters, for you non-golfing folk) a little too loosely. After your serious days of golf are behind you I'm starting to think that scrambles are the most fun you can have on the golf course, but is there something that can be tweaked to avoid everyone always pointing the finger at the winning team?

Busbee: Yeah, I shot a 54 myself at Pinehurst this weekend. It was on Tiger Woods '14, but that's so realistic I'm going to count it as legit. Anyway, this is exactly where we get the disconnect between what we see on TV and what we see on the muni on Saturday afternoons. It's OK for people to get on their high horse and say that GOLF IS A GAME OF HONOR and all that ... except when they're getting their own butts kicked, and then it's all HE CHEATED! Anyway, first point of business: short of having a marshal with every team, you've got to rely on honor, right?

Bacon: Yep, and that's the funny part, because we all proclaim that we live by the rules of golf, but like you said, the moment someone comes in with a good score you are pointing at them and wanting to hang them in town square. Golf is a funny sport because unlike anything else, we are the officials checking to make sure we don't screw something up. Honor is the only thing we have, and while it's easy to just assume every good team is cheating, you have to sometimes accept the fact that there are good golfers out there that might be able to beat you.

That said, is the scramble format the most fun for recreational golfers?

Busbee: Absolutely. Anything that brings everybody into the mix is a good game, and who knows ... that 20-handicapper might surprise you with a close chip or a long holed putt. The key to any kind of recreational golf is keeping everybody interested and not ready to bury themselves in a bunker.

Best thing you've ever seen at a recreational tournament? Buddy of mine once won $25K by hitting a hole in one. The jerk.

Bacon: I just think golf is so stressful for guys that can't break 100, and involving them in a scramble format means that, like you said, once a round they might pull off a shot that even Phil Mickelson would be proud of.

I think the best thing I've seen at a recreational tournament is when my buddy who is 5-foot-6 won long drive, and at the award ceremony after the round he went to get his prize as everyone in the bar looked puzzled and confused. Small packages? They can still get the ball out there!

Busbee: On the other end of the spectrum: a guy I know used to take the flagstick from the hole, run to the complete opposite edge of the green, and jab it into the ground to throw off the groups behind him. Yeah. I don't think he got invited back to many tournaments.

When are we doing the Devil Ball scramble, huh? You, me, and some other Yahoos against the readers?

Bacon: Do you think we can get funding for this? Would it be called the "You guys are idiots!" Open?! I think so.

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