4-Man Scramble With 3 Players

Sooner or later you will see this happen to yourself or at a tournament where one team has only 3 players available in a 4-M scramble. So what would you do with a 4-man scramble with 3 players available only.

Most organisers really don’t have any rules in case one team misses out on a player. In such cases, the best player in the team ends up playing an extra shot and that gives an unparallel advantage to the team. In such cases, better rules should come into play to make the tournament fair.

In this post, we will discuss different possibilities organisers can do in case they have teams with only 3 players available for the tournament.

But before we go deeper into different suggestions it is worth pointing out that if it is a charity event then rules really don’t matter much. However, if the prize money is big then the organiser can take into mind the below considerations to have a better and more fair tournament for everybody.

Let’s have a look at possible solutions but somewhat unfair.

4 man scramble with 3 players

Unfair Combinations

Get Player A For The Extra Shot

So If a team compromises of ABC players for the 4-man scramble then the A player or the captain can play the shot of the missing player. That would however be disadvantageous to the rest of the team as the most capable player would certainly play better than the D player of the remaining teams.

This is one of the most common solutions employed with unregulated scramble tournaments. It sounds fine as it also saves time given that the hole would be cleared soon. But if it was a prized money contest then it would be not fair to the other team.

Get Player D for The Extra Shot

As it sounds the weakest player gets to play the missing shot. It sounds fair only in the sense that the weaker player gets to experience a shot twice and has a higher possibility of improvement in the second shot but overall we should not expect a player with little experience make significant contributions to a team score.

This may also sound fair in a sense of punishment for the team who could not get the complete team. But when viewed in broader perspective it is unfair for the team as they would end up losing with a higher probability.

Fair Combinations

Rotate Extra Shot

As it sounds rotate extra shot of each whole to each player. So if a team compromises of 3 players ABC this is how it would look like irrespective of their expertise:

Hole 1: ABCA

Hole 2: BCAB

Hole 3: CABC

Hole 4: ABCA

and so on

It is worth noting that in case the shot takes longer than four shots then the same pattern would be repeated give the rotated shot player the fifth shot as well. This would balance out the fact that weak player(C) gets to play as much shot as the strong player(A). At the end, it would balance out the equation.

Make the Average

In this case, lets assume the C player is missing. So the combination of the team now looks like ABD.

So now the C players is missing, the gap can be filled by asking B and D player to take extra shots of the C players every whole.

So the team would look like:

Hole 1: ABDB

Hole 2: ABDD

Hole 3: ABDB

Hole 4: ABDD

And so on…

Because the C player is missing and we need to fill the gap we do so by considering the B plays better than C, and C is better than D. So if both B and D get to play the extra shot alternatively they would end up averaging out the C absence at the end of the tournament.

This method works also in case the B player is missing. Than A and C can take the alternate shots.

However, if A and D are missing then this method would not help much.

Mid Takes The Border

In case A is not available then B can be asked to play the extra shot. As B is closest to A in terms of skill level.

The same goes in case D is not available then C should take the extra shot as C would balance out the D absence.

At this end, the absence of players can help balance out the end look of the match.


The problem is solved, the absence of any player should not mess up much. If organisers do not have any hard rules then we would highly suggest that you take in to consideration the fair combinations as they would give all teams to get an equal opportunity to play and win the tournament.

My personal choice would be the Make the Average or Mid-Takes the Border option.






  • Ray Barnes

    Ray Barnes, our Senior Staff Writer and a Golf Analyst with a PhD in Sports Analytics, is a beacon of insight in the golfing world. With a deep understanding of the sport's nuances, statistical analysis, and a talent for demystifying complexities, he provides in-depth analysis and captivating narratives that engage golf enthusiasts worldwide.

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