One-Person Captain's Choice Format Explained

When the term "captain's choice" is included in a format's name, it usually is a synonym for "scramble." Does that mean that a golf tournament or competition format called a 1-Person Captain's Choice is just another name for a one-man scramble? Yes. Now let's explain what that means.

A typical captain's choice (scramble) is played with four-person teams. Each team member hits a ball for each stroke. All four hit a drive, all four play second strokes, and so on, until one of them holes out. Where the "captain's choice" comes in is in deciding which of each of those four strokes is the one the team will use. After all four team members play drives, the best of those drives is selected. All four then play stroke No. 2 from the location of that best drive. The results of those four second strokes are compared and the best one chosen. They all then move to that location and play third strokes. And so on.

But how can that format work when it is "one-person"? That one golfer is the "team," and in a 1-Person Captain's Choice you are hitting two golf balls on each stroke. You tee off with one ball, then you hit a second drive. You compare the two outcomes. If your drive with Ball 1 is better than with Ball 2, then pick up Ball 2 and take it over to Ball 1. Now play both your second strokes from that spot.

And you continue in that manner, playing two balls for each stroke, until you hole out. So, basically, a scramble, but instead of their being multiple golfers on each team, there is only one golfer playing multiple balls.

One potential problem with a One-Man Captain's Choice is that it can get slow. If you are playing one vs. one — two golf buddies facing off for bragging right or a wager — you'll be hitting the same number of balls as a traditional quartet of golfers. Four golfers playing this format will have eight balls in play on every stroke.

In tournaments, to keep the pace of play moving, tournament directors sometimes set a maximum per-hole score of bogey for 1-Person Captain's Choice. Another way to try to keep the pace up is to ask each golfer to hit only one drive if the first drive they hit is a good one.

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