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Team handicap calculation for scrambles

posted Jan 24, 2017, 7:58 PM by Oakwood Couples
The standard paring for a scramble event is "ABCD". In pairing terminology, "A" is the lowest handicapper on the team, "B" is the second lowest, "C" is the second highest and "D" is the highest. The idea is to have a low, high,  and two medium handicappers on each team.

In our case, this pairs the low handicap couple with the high handicap couple, the second low with the second highest, etc. The result is that all teams have the same (or as close as possible) total handicap. Any team handicap you assign is immaterial because it is (virtually) the same for all teams.

The problem with an ABCD pairing is that it tends to result in the same couples playing with each other. This violates our number one rule which is to mix up the couples so you meet different people.

Without an ABCD pairing, you need a proper team handicap so the competition is fair. For that, we defer to the USGA which recommends using a team handicap of 20% of A's handicap plus 15% of B's handicap plus 10% of C's plus 5% of D's. The premise is the team is likely to use more of A's shots than, for example, D's.

Using the USGA's recommended team handicap keeps the competition fair regardless of which pairing method we use.