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A Simple Guide to Playing The Shamble Format in Golf

A Simple Guide to Playing The Shamble Format in Golf

Amateur golfers are constantly in the middle of confusion about best ball, scramble, shame, and scramble.

I have been working in the golf business for over a dozen year and learned that most amateur golfers don’t know the differences between these events. Some even think the word “shamble” is a mispronunciation.

You can rest assured that the chaos is real.

In fact, it’s kind of a fun format and can be a great team event. Here’s what to expect when you play in a shamble tournament.


What is a Shamble Tournament, you ask?

A shamble tournament is where every golfer hits a drive. The best drive is chosen and all players then play their ball into the hole. The shamble differs from a scramble, or best ball event.

You will need to use your own golf drives when you play in a shamble. However, it can be helpful if you run into a bad green to have another drive you can use.

The shamble tournament is a great option for those who struggle to hit the tee box, but can still play the hole independently.

Many shambles come with different variations. Sometimes, one team score is sufficient. Other times, there are net and gross scores. Sometimes, there are two net scores at each hole. Your tournament committee will decide which scenario is best for your event.


Differences between a Golf Shamble and a Scramble

There are a few main differences between a scramble and a shamble, and it’s important to understand them. Not only do you want to ensure you are following the rules, but it’s also essential to think about strategy when playing in these events.

Shame Requires More of Your OWN Shots

In a scramble you will continue to select the best shot of the golfers in your group for the entirety of the hole. This means that some holes may not have the best shots.

You may not be playing from your drive in a shamble format but you will be playing your ball into a hole.

This is a great way for those who play in a shamble to enjoy the course and get a more complete round. The downside, of course, is that it’s much harder for higher handicap golfers.

More than One Score at the End of a Shamble

Most shambles will require you to take at least one best gross and one at the end of each hole. Sometimes, it may be the best gross and net balls of the group.

Only one score is recorded in a scramble tournament. Players keep moving towards the best shot every hole. If you play a golf scramble format, you’ll have a better idea of your score if you had your own golf club.

Number of drives

In order to have a scramble, each member of the foursome must contribute at least two drives. The drive is a crucial part of the shamble so this rule is usually in place.

To ensure you have the best chance to win this tournament format, make sure you pay close attention as you move along.

Formats for two persons

The 2-person shamble may be rarer, but it can be done. You can also play a 2-person scramble tournament. However, it is best to play with four people.

The play speed for the scramble shamble is similar. The scramble will be shorter, however, I can assure you. It really depends on the golfer’s handicaps in the group to be able to estimate the pace of play.


Can You Handicap a Shamble

Handicapping for shambles is determined by what your tournament committee considers the best match. The handicap of each player will be reduced by 20 to 25% for the majority of shambles.

You will receive 15 shots if you have a handicap of 20. This is fair considering you have the chance of playing from the best drive among four.

Sometimes, a handicap for golf can be calculated based on player handicap. The lower handicap player gets less, while the higher handicap player gets more. This makes it more difficult.

Some tournament committee that is unsure of anyone’s handicap will just play a gross shamble. This is when a tournament result of a gross score is not collected.