Shamble Golf Format (How To Play and Strategy)

There are a variety of golf scoring formats for teams that are remarkably similar or are named slightly differently while maintaining the same rules.

Shamble Golf Format is a prime example of a golf game that originates from the Scramble Golf Format with a few tweaks to the rules.

Playing the 2 man shamble golf format makes the game interesting, and teams can also consist of a 4-man team.

This affords golfers that are not so long off the tee to experience shorter approach shots.

Many golf days employ the shamble to make the day enjoyable for everyone including players that cannot hit long drives.

What Is A Shamble In Golf?

The Shamble Golf rules divide a group of golfers into either 2-man or 4-man teams.

All the golfers within the team hit a drive off the tee and the best-positioned drive will be used for the second shot.

All players hit their second shots from the position of the selected drive, and then play their subsequent shots from where their golf balls end up until they have completed the hole.

📋 Keep in mind: This format is aimed at making golf enjoyable for everyone while maintaining a competitive feel and a great deal of individual pride.

What Are The Rules Of A Golf Shamble?

Off The Tee

As in most of the scramble/shamble golf formats, all team members hit their drives off the tee and the best-located drive is selected.

This does not have to be the longest drive that ends up in the rough, it could be a shorter drive that is on the fairway or have an easier line into the green.

The other team members can pick up their drives and drop their golf balls within a club length from where the best drive ended.

All players will then play their second shots from this position.

Into The Hole

From the best drive position, each golfer then proceeds to play out the hole in the least number of shots possible.

You cannot choose the best subsequent shots and then play from there.

Unlike the Scramble Golf Format, you cannot play from the best shots subsequently, it must be played as it lies after your shot.

This is where the individual feel comes into the picture compared to a full scramble.

Scoring In A Shamble Tournament

So, how do you score in a shamble golf tournament?

Ultimately that is the decision of the organizers.

Options available include:

  • The lowest score in the team can be used as the team score
  • The two lowest scores combined can be the team score
  • The lowest score and highest score in the team can be combined and used as the team score
  • Where there are more than 2 players in a team, the lowest and highest scores can be ignored, and the two middle scores added to the team score

📋 Keep in mind: This is by no way a complete way allowed for scoring and the organizers can be quite creative in the manner they set up the scoring.

How To Keep Score In A Golf Shamble

For scoring purposes, it is assumed that each golfer has an official handicap with the United States Golf Association (USGA) or relative handicap governing body.

If you do not have an established Handicap Index, you must use the maximum Handicap Index of 36.4 for men, or 40.4 for women.

This handicap must be converted to a Course Handicap, to determine a maximum Equitable Stroke Control number.

This could allow better players with no handicap to score much better than their ability allows and many golf clubs won’t allow non-handicap players to compete.

However, on the social scene in shamble golf organizers soften limit non-handicap golfers to a maximum of an 18 handicap.

In shambles, scoring can be done on either net or gross score.

A shamble handicap calculator can be used to determine each player’s handicap, ensuring fairness in the game.

📢 Need To Know: The gross score is calculated against the par of the hole whereas net scores consider your handicap. This allows golfers to compete on an equitable level.

How To Handicap A Shamble

Generally, a two-person team is handicapped at 80% of each player’s handicap, three-person teams at 85% of the 2 best players, while a 4 man shamble team is handicapped at 80% of the 2 best players.

What Is The Difference Between A Golf Scramble and A Shamble?

The difference between scramble golf and shamble golf is the way the game is played after the best tee shot is selected.

The shamble vs scramble distinction lies in the way the game is played after the best tee shot is selected.

In both formats, all members of the team hit their tee shots and select the best drive from where the subsequent shots will be played.

In the scramble golf format, all shots are played from the position of the best shot within the team while in shamble golf format only the best drive is used.

Thereafter every team member must play their own ball for the remainder of the hole.

Depending on the scoring format used in the shamble, either one or two golfers must complete the hole to calculate the team score.

When the lowest and highest scores are to be used, all team members must complete the hole.

In a scramble, only one member needs to complete the hole.

2-Person and 4-Person Golf Shamble

The scoring system to be used in a shamble is generally determined by whether teams consist of 2 members or 4 members.

When a team consists of 2 members only it limits the scoring options for organizers.

Teams can either play stroke play against the other teams in the field or match play against the other team in their foursome.

Generally, organizers prefer that all teams compete against each other in a stroke-play competition.

Teams consisting of 4 members broaden the scoring options that organizers can implement.

💡 Golfible Tip: It is ideal for larger fields where golfers of a variety of abilities are mixed and matched to maximize the enjoyment of the day.

Golf Shamble Strategy

Scoring options set by organizers will play a significant role in the strategy that is employed by each team.

Other rules such as the number of drives each golfer can contribute will also be used in determining the strategy and drive selection.

The number of scores to count, whether it is the lowest and highest, lowest and second-highest, and more combined with the type of golf course must be considered in the strategy as well.

Although organizers generally allocate the teams, it is ideal to have a strong driver in your team.

As the scores are calculated for each member, accuracy on subsequent shots is critical to the overall success of the team.

Although higher handicap golfers will score better in Stableford points and net scores, they will score higher in a competition where the gross score is used.

Therefore, the composition of the team should include low, mid, and high handicap golfers.

Is A Bramble Golf Format The Same As Shamble Golf?

Bramble in golf terminology is another variation of scramble golf with rules nearly identical to shamble golf.

In both versions the team use the best drive and then each golfer plays their subsequent shots. Yes, bramble and a shamble golf tournament are the same formats but with different names.


What percentage of handicaps is shamble?

Well, it depends on the number of team members. A two-person team is handicapped at 80% of each player’s handicap, a three-person team at 85% of the two best players, while a 4-person team is handicapped at 80% of the two best players.

What is a Texas shamble?

It’s a type of golf tournament in which all four players have to tee off the shots, and the shot with the best drive is selected. Then all the players of the team have to hit their ball from the position of the best ball  into the hole.

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Charl is a full-time writer who has been with Golfible since 2019. He is an avid golfer and tech enthusiast. When not writing, he tries to squeeze in a round of golf or escape to the mountains.

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