What is a Shamble Golf Format? Rules & How It Differs from Scramble

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Golf tournaments, charity events, and weekend player groups often use creative formats to add diversity and fun to standard stroke play. Two popular options are scramble and shamble formats. While they sound similar, there are distinct differences between a scramble and shamble in terms of rules and how the round unfolds.

In this article, we’ll explain what a shamble format is, how to play it, and how it varies from traditional scramble golf. Understanding these formats gives you more options to switch up your next golf outing.

What is Shamble Golf Format

A shamble format is a popular variation used at golf events like corporate tournaments and charity functions. It’s seen as a middle ground between a standard scramble and individual stroke play.

The basic premise combines some team play off the tee with individual strokes into the green and on putts. Participants get the benefit of the best drive from their foursome but then rely on their own shots and skills the remainder of the hole.

Shamble rules help even out some of the good and bad luck over a round while still keeping individual responsibilities. Let’s look closer at how to play a shamble on the course.

How a Shamble Works

The shamble format follows this flow during the course of each hole:

  • All golfers tee off on a hole and the best drive is selected.
  • Once the best tee shot is chosen, each golfer plays their own ball through the remainder of the hole just as in stroke play.
  • This allows golfers of varying skill levels to benefit from the best tee shot without needing to perfectly match every shot.
  • The shamble team members combine to record the one best drive, then golfers individually account for their own performance on each hole.
  • At the end of the round, scores are tallied based on each golfer’s hole scores as typical stroke play.

Comparing Shamble vs Scramble Formats

To fully understand what defines a shamble, it helps to contrast it against traditional scramble formats:


  • In a scramble, teammates combine to select the single best shot after every stroke.
  • After picking the best drive, the team decides whose second shot to play from there, and so on until holing out.
  • Scramble requires total teamwork from drive to putt. Shots are not assigned to individuals.


  • The shamble format only uses the team approach off the tee when picking the best drive.
  • After that drive, golfers play their own ball just like individual stroke play into the hole.
  • Only the tee shot relies on the team effort. Players handle their own distinct second shots, chips, and putts.

Basics of Shamble Rules and Scoring

The shamble format employs a straightforward set of rules and scoring:

  • After all golfers tee off, the team decides which drive was best. Mark this spot to identify it for second shots.
  • From that point forward, golfers play their own ball just like regular stroke play.
  • On greens, golfers putt out each hole with their own ball rather than a chosen team attempt.
  • Every golfer records their individual gross score on each hole based on the number of strokes (plus any penalties) taken on that hole.
  • The best drive location is recorded as one team score for stats or handicapping.
  • At the end of the round, golfers tally their own total gross score just like a normal individual scorecard.


The shamble format delivers an enjoyable mix of team golf and individual play. Golfers of all abilities appreciate benefiting from the best drive while still retaining responsibility for their own scoring ability.

Shambles provide a friendly middle ground between a scramble where shots are completely communal and standard stroke play where it’s all on your shoulders.

The next time your regular group wants to mix it up or you see a shamble tournament on the calendar, embrace the chance to try out the format. Following the simple shamble rules, you’ll find the format keeps a fun element of teamwork alive while letting individual skills shine through over the full round.

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