Scrambling after
an air shot

Air shots are never welcome but there are not many worse times to perform that wretched act than in the middle of the fairway on a lovely sunny morning — and in front of a scratch golfer.
Thankfully, it cheered him up no end and everyone had a good laugh; apart from me of course. I just stood there riddled with embarrassment.
It was just as well we were playing Texas Scramble on Saturday and no real damage was done. That’s the beauty of a scramble. The odd cock-up doesn’t matter, especially when you are playing with the club champion.
Not many of that ilk would consent to play with three old hackers like us but, charming lad that he is, Jordan Price Davies not only agreed to join us, he put us in the ball-sweep, marked the card and managed us around the course with a maturity far beyond his 23 years.
Of all the weird and wonderful versions of the game, the Texas Scramble is probably the most popular because even the worst players can find themselves putting for birdies on a regular basis.
But what used to be a hacker’s delight can now be more of a nightmare for the less gifted since they started refining the format.
The scramble is a game played by teams of four each of whom play a tee-shot and then select the best. They each play their second shots from that spot, select the best again to play their third shots and so on.
In days gone by, all the hacker had to do was to ensure he was in a team with at least one good driver of the ball. He could then spend a comfortable round retrieving his drive from the most appalling places and taking his second shot from the middle of the fairway.
Even if he messed that up, too, the ball more would more than likely be on the green in regulation and he could become a hero by sinking a birdie putt.
But golf hasn’t got where it is today through giving hackers an easy time. The version now being played at most clubs is that teams must take at least four tee-shots from each player.
It is not too much to ask even a hacker to hit four decent tee-shots out of 18 but the pressure on the weaker players gradually increases during the round and to find yourself still one or two shots short of your quota with only a couple of holes to play can attack the nerves.
Jordan was driving the ball straight and about 60 yards beyond our best one but, wisely, selected the best of ours over the early holes and he hit such excellent shots we didn‘t drop a shot and picked up five birdies.
Another aspect of the scramble that doesn’t help the hackers is the handicap allowance. You take ten per cent of the combined. My handicap is 28, Mike Hennessey’s is 24 and Max Kipling. That’s a total of 71. It was quite a shock to realise that Jordan didn’t have any shots to add to the total but we forgave him.
People who have studied scramble results on both sides of the Atlantic say that this is a far from generous allowance and that the system favours the lower handicappers (fancy that!).
Our total was 57.9 which we pleased with but it put us four shots behind the winners,, whose team included a scratch player and two players whose handicaps were two.
Another format we’ve considered is that each player must have three of his tee-shots taken but the one whose shot is chosen doesn’t play a second shot. This stops one player dominating the team.
In an extended version of this called the Florida Scramble, or the Mexican Stand-off as it is also known, the player whose shot is chosen misses out on the next shot throughout the hole. This tends to spread the responsibility around.
One version that would appeal to the gambler is the Las Vegas Scramble. You have to take dice with you and number each player one to four. After each player has driven, you roll the dice and the number that comes up is the drive you take. If the dice shows a five or six, you can select a drive in the normal way. That sounds fun.
I am certainly not in favour of the Reverse Scramble in which the worst shot has to be taken each time. This not only makes for a very slow round it guarantees that hackers will not be invited to play. Come to think of it, my air shot would have counted as our worst shot. I don’t think they’d have found that funny.

One thought on “Scrambling after
an air shot

  1. Geoff could have made a fortune as a stand up comedian. His ability to see the funny side of any situation is quite amazing, spontaneous repartee is almost instant, before one has has actually clarified in their minds what has just been said his response is being given. He is invariabley
    a speaker at presentation dinners, where every one is delighted with his interpretation of why the recipient of the prize should achieve such prominence.You can publish my website. Len May

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