Different Scrambles

Vin Ciarlone is the PGA director of golf operations at Northampton Valley Country Club in Richboro, Pa.

In the more than 30 years I’ve spent as a PGA Professional, I’ve played in my fair share of 18-hole scrambles. There have been times where it’s the seventh hole before I even hit a putt; instances like that made me want to do something different than the traditional scramble. I wanted to host a scramble where every player on a four-person team was able to contribute and play just as many shots as the best player in the group. I derived a format, which I like to call the “VC Scramble,” where instead of playing the single best ball off the tee, two team members play from the best ball while the remaining two play from the second-best location; this format continues until the team holes out. This permits more people to hit more shots and have a greater contribution to their team’s overall score. Speaking of scoring, that’s one of the areas significantly altered by using this format. Since there are essentially two two-person teams playing each hole, the twosomes combine their totals to get the overall score for a particular hole. In essence, a par 4 turns into a par 8, which makes 140 a score of even-par on our par-70 layout. However, score isn’t really the important factor. The whole premise is to ensure that everyone gets in their fair share of golf.

We’re a 250-member semi-private facility that averages a little shy of 40,000 rounds a year. I’ve found that our members and our guests have really been very supportive and inviting towards the new format. We usually host two or three VC Scrambles a year with fields of 120-130 golfers. While golf is a game built on tradition, it never hurts to shake things up a little bit to try to pique the interest of your golfers. In these times, anything you do differently from your neighbor is a selling point to attract more rounds and revenue to your facility.