What is a Shamble in Golf: A Comprehensive Guide

Looking to mix things up on the golf course? Then a shamble may be just what you need. But what exactly is a shamble in golf? 

This comprehensive guide will delve into the nature of the shamble in golf and how it’s played as a golf tournament. 

We’ll also explore the pros and cons of the shamble and how it’s different from a scramble golf format.

So, if you’re ready to add some variety to your golf game, read on to learn more about the shamble!

How to Play the Shamble Format: A Beginner’s Guide

A shamble combines some elements of both stroke play and scramble, adding an element of strategy and teamwork to the game. 

But how exactly do you play a shamble, and what do pro golfers have to say about this format?

Playing the Shamble Format

The shamble format in golf is a unique variation of traditional stroke play that combines elements of both stroke play and scramble. Team golf tournaments often follow this format to add some aspect of strategy and speed up play. 

If you’re new to shamble, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to play:

  • Each player on the team has the opportunity to perform tee shots as they would in a stroke play format. 
  • The team selects the best tee shot of the group, and all players play their next shots from that spot. 
  • This process continues until the hole is completed. 
  • The team records the best score of each player on the team.

Thoughts from Pro Golfers

Some golf purists argue that the shamble takes away from the integrity of the game, as it allows players to choose their best shots rather than playing their own golf ball from start to finish. 

Others argue that the shamble adds an element of strategy and team play that can be lacking in traditional stroke play formats.

Despite the debates surrounding its place in the golf world, the shamble remains a popular choice for team golf tournaments, and its length will likely continue to be a mainstay in the golfing community for years to come.

Tips To Remember When Playing A Shamble Golf Tournament

While it can be a fun and exciting way to mix things up on the course, it’s crucial to have a strategy in place to maximize your team’s potential. 

From communication with your teammates to smart risk vs reward decisions, these tips will help you and your team excel at any shamble tournament.

Communication is Key

In the shamble format, it’s essential to communicate with your teammates and ensure everyone is on the same page. This means discussing which shots to select, as well as any potential hazards or strategies that may come into play on a given hole.

Make Smart Risk vs. Reward Decisions

One of the key aspects of playing shamble is making smart risk vs. reward decisions. Because the shamble allows for a bit more leeway when it comes to taking risks, carefully consider the potential rewards versus the potential drawbacks of any given shot.

For example, if you’re faced with a long, difficult shot that could potentially net your team a birdie, it may be worth taking the risk in the hopes of a big payoff. 

On the other hand, if you’re in a position where a bogey is likely the worst outcome, it may be wise to play it safe and choose a more conservative shot.

By carefully weighing each shot’s potential risks and rewards, you and your team can make intelligent decisions that will help you succeed in the shamble format.

Pay Attention to the Rules

As with any golf tournament, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the specific rules and regulations of the shamble format. This may include guidelines on things like ball placement, out-of-bounds strokes, and other rule variations particular to the shamble.

Differences Between a Shamble and Scramble

As mentioned previously, the shamble format in golf combines stroke play and scramble elements. But how do these two formats differ, and how does the shamble fit into the mix?

Team Play 

In a scramble, each player on a team plays their respective ball into the hole. From there, each golfer plays their second shot from that spot, and so on, until the hole is complete.

In a shamble, on the other hand, each player on the team tees off as they would in a stroke play format. However, rather than playing their own ball for the remainder of the hole, the team selects the group’s best shot, and all players play their next shots from that spot. 

This means that while the scramble format involves more teamwork and strategy, the shamble also allows for individual player performance to come into play.

Team Score

Both types of play have different golf scoring formats.

In a scramble, only one score is recorded for the team on each hole, regardless of how many strokes it takes each player to complete the hole. 

In a shamble, each player’s score is recorded, and the team’s score is calculated by adding up the best scores of each team member.

Rule Variations

Every golf tournament format has specific guidelines for ball placements, out-of-bounds strokes, and more that are unique to the scramble or shamble format. 

It’s essential to familiarize yourself with these rules before starting play to ensure a fair and enjoyable game for all players.

Golf Shamble: The Pros and Cons

As with any golf format, the shamble has its own pros and cons that should be considered when deciding whether it’s the right choice for your group or tournament.


  • Faster Play: Because each player on a team doesn’t have to complete every hole on their ball, the pace of play can be faster than in a traditional stroke play format.
  • Adds Team Element: The shamble format encourages players to communicate and make decisions together, which can be a fun and rewarding experience for both casual and competitive golfers.
  • Individual Performance Still Matters: While the shamble allows for team play, it also allows individual player performance to come into play. Because each player’s score is recorded, players are still motivated to play their best and contribute to the team’s overall score.


  • Controversial: As mentioned earlier, the shamble format is without its controversies. Some golf purists argue that shamble play takes away from the integrity of the game and that it’s more about strategy than individual skill.
  • Confusion: The shamble format can confuse some players, especially those new to the game. So, ensure everyone understands the rules and guidelines of the format before starting play.

Final Thoughts

With its mix of individual and team play or golf outings, the shamble can add an element of strategy and fun to any golf tournament. 

While it’s not without its controversies, the shamble remains a popular choice for many golfers looking to mix things up on the course.

If you’re interested in learning more about different golf formats and how they can impact your game, be sure to check out our article on “What is a Mid Handicap Golfer?” 

This article explores the concept of handicaps in golf and how they can affect your play on the course.