Magic Pencil always wins a scramble.

For some of you that might not know, a scramble is a tournament where everyone in the group hits the tee shot and you pick the best one. Then everyone hits a second shot, you pick the best one and everyone hits from there and so on till you finish the hole.

This is often the format at charity tournaments where you often have 5 or even 6 players in the group, so a birdie pretty much becomes par.

It is not uncommon for fivesomes and sixsomes to shoot 18-22 under par. However, for a foursome, 13-16 under is a very good score.

Anyone who has played in a number of these events will tell you about all of the cheating that goes on. In other words, the team with the best eraser always wins. “The last scorecard in wins,” is another cliche you hear.

The reason why there is so much cheating???? Well, these tournaments often have lavish prizes donated and sometimes there are so many, the winning teams get really good stuff.

Being a long drive champion and a good overall player makes me a very attractive teammate, so I get invited to play in a lot of these things, so I have seen it all and the following story is my favorite.

A friend of a friend buys a group at this one charity event every year. It is a smaller event, but they have great prizes and my friend’s friend had been playing for several years and wanted to get his hands on first place for the nice prize, but mostly for the bragging rights. So he asked my friend and asked him to bring me, as he had heard stories about prodigious drives and low scores. My friend is no slouch, as he also had some success as a long driver and is about a 2 or 3 handicap. The guy who invited us and the other member of our foursome were also single digits.

We were told about a team that wins every year and most people were sick of it, so our team was built to win. I was warming up on the range and saw 4 guys huddled together looking mighty feeble. A couple them had trouble bending over to address the ball so much, they needed to use their club to balance themselves to keep them from falling over. None of them hit the ball much over 200 yards, but they were laughing and having a great time. I said to myself, that is what golf should be about.

Anyway, our group had a great day. I played one of the best rounds of my life, hitting pretty much every fairway and sticking iron shots within 10 feet all day long and the other three members played to or above their ability. We shot 20 under par. 14 birdies, 3 eagles and one par. We were very confident we won by several shots.

I won the long drive hole and when it was announced, the group I saw having a good time on the range started grumbling that one of their group had killed one, my drive must have been BS, because no one can hit it that much farther than the drive one of them hit. I thought for sure they were joshing and laughed.

They then started to announce the winning teams. Second place was a very expensive new driver, which I obviously didn’t need, but first place was a weekend stay and free golf at a really nice resort in Scottsdale, so I was happy about winning that.

“In third place, at 11 under par…”

“In second place at 20 under par…,” and they announced our names. We looked at each other in utter shock as we walked up to receive our drivers and looked around the room for a table of PGA Tour players.

“In first place, at 21 under par…,” it was my four buddies from the range, who now it was obvious were serious when they poo pood my long drive. My friend and I looked at each other, started cracking up and said at the exact same time…”magic pencil.”

We were informed that group had won this tournament every year. My friend walked over to them and challenged them to a match for large amounts of money and the Scottsdale weekends. They declined with the use of several four letter expletives.

There is an old saying. “You can’t fight City Hall.” Well there is another saying that is even more true…”You can’t fight magic pencil.”




  1. SnowDale

    Reminds me of the way that some tournaments used to be that I played in. A couple of them recently changed it around so that first prize was a $75 pro shop credit, second place was $50, third was $35. They put all the money into door prizes. Shotguns, golf clubs, plasma TV’s, trips, tools, Playstation 3’s, stuff like that.

    If you want to creatively engineer your score, go for it. Doesn’t matter that much anymore when the prizes aren’t that big a deal.

    Or you can always do what they do at the member/guest at my home club…. they have a scorer go around and keep score. They usually recruit members of the local high school golf teams, to pay back for the use of the course.

    • Monte Scheinblum

      I like that idea. This story was a few years ago and I think your scenario is now the norm.

  2. CaryK

    I used to play in a big money scramble every year. To keep the “magic pencil” out of it, they paired up teams (i.e. 8-some) so you scored for the other team. Although it might have been a little slower, it worked pretty well and kept cheating to a minimum. It also helped provide a little competition during play to makes things interesting.

  3. ric

    I actually stopped playing with some people who are now not my friends anymore because they cheated in scrambles. I had never kept score in these events and had always been part of a “ringer” team but after we won 3 in a row I started to keep my own scorecard and sure enough the guy who was inviting us to all these events was shaving about 3 shots a round, just eneough to win.
    I told him I would not participate anymore. and that was that.


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