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Play a Shamble in Golf Tournament 

A shamble in a golf tournament is a type of golf format that combines elements of both the scramble format and the best ball format. In a shamble tournament, each player tees off, and the best drive is selected. Following that, each player will play their own ball until the hole is completed. This format allows for the individual skill of each player to shine, while still benefiting from the teamwork and strategy of the best ball format.

The shamble format is a popular choice for golf tournaments as it offers an enjoyable and competitive playing experience for all skill levels. Additionally, the shamble format provides a fair and enjoyable game for all participants, incentivizing players to perform well individually and contribute to the success of the team.

Ultimately, a shamble in a golf tournament offers a unique and exciting golf game that challenges players to bring their best to the course.

What is a Shamble in Golf?

A shamble in golf is a format that combines elements of a scramble and best ball. Essentially, all members of a team tee off on each hole. Players then select the best drive, and all players proceed to play their own balls into the hole from that chosen location. The team records the lowest score amongst its members as the team score for that hole.

There are many variations when it comes to the specific rules, scoring, handicapping, and game setup for a shamble in golf. But in general, it allows teams comprised of players with varying abilities to compete in a fun, low-pressure environment that still presents some strategic challenges. The shared tee shots help level the playing field, yet you still get to play your own ball into each green.

Origins and History

The origins of the shamble golf format are relatively unknown, but people believe it emerged sometime in the mid-20th century. This was around the time when more creative and recreational golf games and variations started growing in popularity among regular players. The history of the terminology itself is also unclear shamble does not really have an obvious connection to the format or rules of play.

Regardless of where exactly it came from, the shamble has clearly become more widespread and regular in golf leagues, club events, and casual rounds among friends over the past couple of decades. It strikes an excellent balance for serious and recreational players alike, emphasizing both teamwork and individual play. Events utilizing a shamble format are often very popular for charity tournaments or fundraisers as well, thanks to the inclusive and fun team dynamic.

How to Play a Shamble in Golf

In a shamble, every player in a team hits their tee shot, and then the team chooses the best tee shot to play from. From there, every player plays their own ball within a club length of the chosen tee shot. This format allows for both individual performance and team strategy to come into play. The players then take turns playing their own balls in an alternate shot format until they hole the ball. The shamble format offers a unique blend of individual skill and team coordination, making it a popular choice for golf outings and tournaments.

By allowing each player to contribute to the team’s success while still showcasing their individual abilities, the shamble provides a dynamic and engaging experience on the golf course. Whether it’s choosing the best tee shot from the team or executing a crucial shot as a team member, the shamble format offers a challenging and rewarding style of play for golfers of all skill levels.

Benefits of Playing a Shamble in Golf

One of the many benefits of playing a shamble in golf is the opportunity to select the best drive from your teammate. In a shamble, each player hits their own tee shot and then the team selects the best drive to continue from. This provides an element of strategy and teamwork as players must work together to achieve the best possible outcome. The shamble format is also a great way for golfers of different skill levels to play together, as it allows players to contribute to the team’s score in a meaningful way. 

Additionally, the shamble starts adds an element of competition and excitement to the game. Like a scramble, the shamble format is also a great way to speed up play and keep the game moving. Overall, the shamble is one such format in golf that provides numerous benefits, including encouraging teamwork, promoting inclusivity, and adding an element of strategy to the game. 

Rules and Scoring

While rules and scoring can vary significantly, here is an overview of some of the most common standards for playing a shamble in golf:

  • Teams are usually comprised of 4 players, but 2 or 3-person teams are common as well
  • All players tee off on each hole, then select the best shot amongst the team as the chosen drive
  • Every player then plays their own ball into the hole from that selected drive location through the putt
  • The lowest score amongst the team is taken and marked as the team score for that hole
  • Players often put handicaps into play by using a specified percentage of their handicap strokes on their own ball, based on the difficulties of the hole.
  • These handicap strokes must be used on the player’s own played shot from the selected drive forward
  • Total team scores are calculated by adding up the recorded team scores on each hole throughout the round

This structure allows players of all abilities to contribute toward their team’s success on every hole. The chosen tee shots help negate really bad drives, while the individual play into each green rewards those with stronger short games. Using handicaps helps level the playing field even further and keeps things competitive.

Strategy and Key Aspects

In a shamble format, winning largely depends on the same strategic keys that govern successful golf performance: driving accuracy, precise iron play, and proficiency on and around the greens. But there are some additional elements of strategy unique to this format as well:

  • Teams must effectively manage players’ emotions and coordinate when they choose a bad drive or make other mistakes.
  • Weaker drivers may “swing for the fences” a bit more aggressively, knowing bad drives can be negated
  • Concerns about sandbaggers are somewhat mitigated since all previous stroke history isn’t the ultimate factor.
  • Teams with varying strengths can still thrive thanks to collective performances over all golf skills
  • Strategic course management decisions—playing to distances & strengths—becomes a collaborative effort

The lighthearted team aspect coupled with individual follow-through on shots makes for a very positive and enjoyable environment for players and spectators alike.

Rising Popularity of Shamble Golf

There are some clear reasons why shamble golf events have seen such a boost in popularity at both professional and recreational levels in recent years:

Appeals to a Wider Audience

By blending both teamwork and individual accountability, shambles enable players across the full spectrum of skills, ages, genders, and backgrounds to participate together. This helps grow the game overall.

More Excitement Than Regular Stroke Play

Having shared drives, collective strategy, and still meaningful individual performance heightens both camaraderie and friendly competition.

Great For Charity Events and Fundraisers

The inclusive team concept attracts participation, sponsorship opportunities, and donations. Shamble tournaments are also fun and engaging for spectators.

Faster Pace of Play Than Regular Golf

With just one tee shot required per team, shambles speed up pace significantly, especially when you have full groups waiting to hit their tee shots.

Unique Balance of Skills, Strategy and Pressure

Having both collaborative and individual aspects requires game management, communication, and Provides Performance Insights Teams get to experience how different strengths complement each other. Individuals also may learn what parts of their games to focus practice on.


What are the rules for a shamble in golf?

All hit drives, select best, then play own ball in using lowest score as team score. Handicaps applied.

What’s different between a golf scramble and a shamble?

Scramble uses one shared ball the entire hole; Shamble only shares the drive.

What is a Texas shamble?

On par 3s you do not use shared drives, players all tee off individually.


As golf continues working to attract more newcomers and provide an entertaining value for fans and participants, the shamble format demonstrates the positive impacts creativity and variation can have on the game. The rising popularity seems poised to continue thanks to the inherent fun, fast pace, and inclusive nature of shambles. This provides exciting opportunities for golfers at all levels to enjoy the game.

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