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picture of golfers playing a shamble at the currituck golf club in outerbanks, NC

Golf Shamble Format | Best Strategies and Tips for Playing A Shamble Golf Format

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Tired of going OB on the tee shot but the rest of your golf game is spot on? Something’s in shambles, but don’t worry – it won’t be your golf score! Have you already tried the scramble, wolf golf game, or the snake putting game  on the course and in search of something different? Well, the shamble golf format is the latest golf game craze and it’s a fun competition for players of all skill levels. 

If you want to try something different and are tired of just chasing the little white golf ball around the golf course, keep reading below for the fun golf game called the golf shamble format!

What is the Golf Shamble Format?

The shamble golf format is a hybrid of two well-known formats: scramble and stroke play. This game really benefits and caters the players who struggle to get off the tee, but have a solid iron game or short game.

By incorporating both stroke play and scramble elements, it delivers exciting team dynamics and strategic gameplay, making it a popular choice for various golf events and tournaments.

In a shamble, each player tees off from the starting point. Once all players have hit their tee shots, the team selects the best shot among them. From this selected spot, each player continues playing their own ball, completing the hole individually using normal stroke play rules.

Why play the golf shamble format?

Shamble format offers certain advantages and strategic elements, such as:

  • Allowing players of different skill levels to contribute to the team score.
  • Fostering a competitive and enjoyable team environment.
  • Keeping up with pace of play
  • Encouraging collaboration and communication among team members.
  • Shoot better golf scores

This is one of our favorite games to play at family outings or 12-20 people tournaments. It allows for those beginner golfers to come out and play without holding up the pace of play for everyone. 

golf shamble format scorecard example from bradshaw farms
A shamble scorecard example from a family tournament at Bradshaw Farms in Woodstock, GA

Lets face it, hitting the ball out of bounds from the tee is a round killer. The shamble golf format is designed to cut those round killers and keep you having FUN!

A golf shamble offers players ample opportunities to develop their strategies and decision-making skills. Determining which drive to select requires weighing various factors, such as distance, hazards, and preferred shot shapes. In addition, players must collaborate to devise their approach shots and putting strategies throughout the round.

How to play the Golf Shamble Format

The rules of the shamble golf format are straightforward in accordance with the rules of the game:

  • All team members initially hit a tee shot
  • The team chooses the best tee shot among them, and each golfer places their ball at the location of the selected shot within a club length
  • From there, each player completes the hole independently, using their own ball
  • The individual scores from each golfer will be written down. 
  • Team scoring is calculated using the best 1, 2, 3 or all 4 scores. (See variations of rules below)

Remember, the key elements of a shamble format involve selecting the best drive and counting individual scores rather than relying on a single group score. This combination of elements encourages strategic gameplay, teamwork, and individual responsibility, making shamble an enjoyable option for golfers of all skill levels.

What are the rules of a Shamble Golf Format?


In a golf shamble format, penalties can vary based on the specific rules set by the event or organizer. Typical penalties include out-of-bounds, water hazards, and lost balls. However, since every player in the team will play their own ball after the initial drive, the effect of penalties is less severe. The player would just have to count the stroke(s) they lost and continue from where their chosen drive was played.


Scoring in a shamble format is derived from stroke play. After choosing the best drive from the team, each team member will play their own ball for the remainder of the hole. Players must calculate their individual scores for each hole and combine them to form the team score. The team with the lowest total score wins the game.

Best Strategies for Shamble Golf Format

When it comes to playing golf shamble, we believe that a combination of effective strategies can highly impact our success. Along with a winning mindset, preparation is key. Those playing to win can utilize these strategies:

Safety Net Tee shots

Who’s the longest striker in the group? Designate this person as the last one to hit. The other three players can focus on making more controlled, relaxed swings just to put a drive in the fairway in the safe zone. Once at least one ball is securely down the middle, let the long bomber swing for the fences.

With 75% of the group playing defensively, there’s good odds for a solid second shot even if it isn’t as close to the hole; meanwhile, if the final player gets the go ahead and smokes his drive the players will get the added bonus of a shortened approach shot.

Team Caddy

Remember: you’re a team! Be sure to discuss shots together, especially after the teeshots. Even though players will have different approaches come their third shots, it’s a good opportunity to brainstorm approach angles, landing zones and reads.

Putting four pairs of eyes over a putt can help identify tricky breaks and increase that putting magic. It’s also a great momentum builder if you can trust each other’s instincts and feed off positive energy.

Always Putt it Out

Is there one player in the group who’s red-hot and just drained a birdie putt? The other players who are already sitting four or five will likely pick up their balls to move onto the next hole. However, this move loses precious practice time.

Any opportunity to test out a chip or read a putt only sharpens one’s game. Having a low score on the card allows for this no-pressure playing and gives a better feel for the holes to come.

Variations of Golf Shamble Format

2-man shamble golf format

The shamble format can be played with just two golfers. A team of two can opt either to enter a match play against the other twosome in the group or they can compete against the whole field. The latter option is a more challenging decision as smaller teams will have just half of the teeshot resources as foursomes do. As well, as we saw with the above chart, they have less opportunities to pick-and-choose scores for the low gross and low net scoring. For a confident, low-handicap pair, however, this may suffice. You can also try to play with a half set of golf clubs to make it more interesting. 

Tournament shamble scoring

The range can vary, but normally handicaps are reduced by 25% for tournament scoring. This means that a 12-handicap would become a 9, an 8-handicap would become a 6, and so on. Tournaments that use both gross and net scoring dictate that players can only use their score towards either gross or net – not both – per hole. Let’s use these handicaps as an example for the below chart.

If the first hole is a par 4 and index 14, Player 1 will not get a stroke. Player 1’s score will be as is. He shoots par. Player 2, who does get a stroke, shoots a 5, or bogey. With the given stroke, Player 2’s score is counted as a 5 (gross) and 4 (net).

On the second hole, another par 4 and index 7, Player 1 now gets a stroke. Player I scores another 4, which is counted as a 3 (net). Player 2 also gets a stroke and shoots a 5 (gross), or 4 (net). When counting the low net for the hole, Player 1’s birdie will be taken. However, because Player 1’s score is already used, the team must take Player 2’s bogey score for the low gross. This ensures that the strongest player in the group can’t simply use his own score for the entire round.

Learn more about calculating your golf handicap here!

an example of how you will score a shamble golf scorecard
Example of how to calculate the score with the handicap

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a shamble and a scramble?

In a golf shamble format, all players in a team tee off and the team selects the best drive. From that point, each player plays their own ball into the hole without any further team selection. The team score is usually calculated by adding a predetermined number of individual scores.

On the other hand, a scramble format requires the team to select the best shot from each position and continue playing from that spot. This includes drives, approaches, and putts. The process is repeated until the hole is completed, and the team score is the total number of strokes taken.

What is a Texas Shamble?

A Texas Shamble is a variation of the traditional shamble format. In this version, after selecting the best tee shot, all players on the team move their balls to that location and play their own ball into the hole. However, unlike the regular shamble, each player must subtract their individual handicap from their score before adding it to the team total. This handicap-adjusted scoring system helps level the playing field between golfers of different skill levels.

How does a 2-person shamble work?

In a 2-person shamble, both players on the team tee off, and the team selects the best drive. From there, each golfer plays their own ball into the hole. The team score is determined by combining the best individual score for each hole, without any handicap adjustments. This format encourages collaboration between the teammates while also allowing each golfer to showcase their individual skills.

Organizing a Golf Shamble Tournament

Organizing a golf shamble tournament can be a fun and engaging experience for both participants and organizers alike. The key to a successful event lies in the careful planning and execution of the various components of the tournament. As experienced golf enthusiasts, we are here to walk you through the essential steps in organizing a golf shamble tournament.

Set date/time

To begin with, it’s crucial to set the date, time, and location for the event. Make sure to select a golf course that can accommodate the number of expected participants, and reserve tee times well in advance. Additionally, factor in the availability of facilities such as restrooms, snack bars, and parking areas.

Determine shamble format

Next, determine the format and specific rules for your shamble tournament from above. You may decide to implement variations such as requiring a certain number of drives from each player or using handicaps to create a more balanced experience for all skill levels.

Collect fees and send details

Once you have established the structure of the event, compile a list of teams and players, as well as their contact information. Be sure to communicate all relevant details regarding the format, rules, and schedule to participants well in advance. It’s also a good idea to collect entry fees and finalize any necessary waivers or consent forms ahead of time.

Plan rewards and contest winnings

Subsequently, develop a plan for scoring, awards, and any additional contests such as closest to the pin or longest drive. Designate a volunteer or staff member to keep track of scores and standings throughout the event. Consider offering prizes for winning teams and individual achievements to encourage friendly competition among participants.


Lastly, don’t forget about the logistics related to event operations, such as setting up signage, coordinating volunteer efforts, and managing post-round activities like a buffet or awards ceremony. Ensure that all participants leave the event with a clear understanding of their team’s performance and any accolades earned throughout the day.

By following these guidelines, you can efficiently organize a golf shamble tournament that provides a fun and competitive atmosphere for players of all skill levels. Remember, careful planning, effective communication, and attention to detail are the essential ingredients for a successful event.

Long Bombs Golf Final Say:

Get ready to shamble!

Try these strategies out and let us know how it goes! Do you have any ideas for your own shamble outing? How much of a handicap reduction are you aiming to take? Important decisions for game day indeed, but most important of all – remember to have fun and put your best shot forward!

Would you rather play your full individual score? Check out how to play the high low golf game here. 


About the Author


How we got onto 16 with a 5 minute wait at the WM Phoenix Open!

How I got on hole 16 (The Stadium hole) at the Waste Management Phoenix Open with little to no wait!! I also have tips and tricks on what to do once you are inside the gate and inside the stadium hole. Check this out if you ever plan to make a trip out! If you ever have the chance, it is definitely worth the trip.

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