What is a Best Ball vs Scramble vs Captain & Crew?
Best Ball (also known as four ball in the Ryder Cup) involves 2-person or 4-person teams where each player on the team plays his or her own golf ball throughout the round. After each hole the player with the lowest score on the hole (or “best ball”) out of the 2- or 4-person team serves as the team's score. The higher scoring player(s) score is ignored for that particular hole.
For instance, if Player A records a 5 and Player B records a 6, the team should record a 5 as their best ball score for the hole. Both players should record their individual score for each hole, and have a separate line on the scorecard for their best ball score. (Handicapped can also be incorporated.)
Best ball format allows players to play their own game (since players keep track of their own scores), while also allowing the partners to take advantage of the partner that is plays that hole the best. Scores tend to be a bit higher in best ball than in a scramble, simply because each player has to play their own shots. If you hit a bad drive, you have to play it (and hope your partner has a better drive).
A Scramble format, also known as, the Captain and Crew format or Scotch golf; also, uses the phrase “best ball,” but not to refer to the score. In a scramble, each player hits each time and then the crew (two, three or four players) discuss and decide which shot positions the team best for the next shot; and then everyone plays their next shot from the preferred location.