What is a Shamble in Golf? 6 Key Rules

If you’ve never played golf before, you might not know what the phrase “shamble” means. As a result, you might feel confused and wonder what is a golf shamble at your next golf outing…

So, what is a shamble in golf?

A shamble is a type of golf competition that combines aspects of scramble and stroke play. But unlike the Texas Scramble or Best Ball forms, this kind of game is not particularly popular. Still, the shamble is one of the best golf formats for beginner-friendly competitions.

Additionally, the shamble format allows you to play golf with a team while maintaining focus on your game. This makes it easier for new golfers to learn from professionals.

A Scramble or Shamble?

The term ‘scramble’ is more common in competitive golf tournaments. A scramble happens when all players tee off on each hole.  The player with the best drive or best shot ends up being played by others. They will hit shots from the exact position of their preferred shot until hole is finished.

Having said that, a shamble in golf does not indicate that players hit poor shots. The shamble format encourages teamwork and enhances personal abilities. As a result, players provide unique support to the group.

The same might not occur in scramble games, where players might feel they didn’t perform well and might miss out on chances to putt alone. If you take a bad shot in this format, you might not always be able to count on your teammates for support. As a result, you sometimes have to work alone and experience pressure to reach the green.

In the shamble format, players can play out whenever they reach each hole, which helps them feel like they’ve putted, driven, and pitched enough. Despite this, there is no perfect golf format. Some players prefer the shamble, while others love the scramble format.

What Is A Shamble in Golf?

In a shamble all golfers hit their tee shot. The group chooses the best tee shot and everyone plays from that spot.

However, for the rest of the hole, everyone plays their own ball.


How to Play the Shamble Golf Format

what is a shamble in golf

The shamble format pits golfers into two or four groups, and they play 18 hole or 9 holes. It can be a normal start or a shotgun start.

What Are Golf Shamble Rules?

  • Each golfer must tee off at every available hole while the group picks the most preferred shot and everyone plays their next shot from there.
  • When every golfer has hit their second shot, each player then plays there own ball for the rest of the hole.
  • The group continues playing in this format until every golfer holes out. That means the group will have golfers with varying scores, but each golfer will have a separate score sheet.

Any player can easily follow the simple rules of shambles in golf, but the format has the following technicalities that must be followed in any tournament:

  1. When golfers play their second shot, group members must position their golf balls in specific locations, measuring no more than one club length of their selected shots.
  2. Golfers must not position their balls in a location near a hole.
  3. They must position the ball on the same line as their preferred shot. Simply put, if the group’s preferred shot stops on a secondary rough, the player with the shot must hit from the secondary rough.
  4. A golfer should hand place their ball and not drop it like a penalty drop.
  5. A ball becomes in play if a golfer addresses their shot. When this happens, the golfer cannot change the ball’s position if they don’t concede a shot.
  6. If a golfer plays their second shot from the ball’s resting position, that ball becomes the most preferred.

Final Thoughts

In shamble tournaments, there are a variety of scoring strategies depending on the game’s rules. However, the scoring method relies on a stroke play variation. Most clubs require golfers to record their scores when they move past a hole.

They might keep track of the average team score for each round and compare it to the scores of the opposition to determine which team had the worst shooting percentage.

Additionally, some clubs may allow their golfers to remove their highest and lowest golf scores in four-ball games. When this happens, they can record the teams’ scores by calculating the two middle scores on every hole played.

As soon as the golfers have teed off, a team decides on the best shot in a shamble format. Each golfer can then continue playing the ball until they have holed out.