Most golfers have heard of a scramble but what about a shamble?
When most of us hear the word shamble in the same sentence as golf it’s normally used to describe bad scores. “My golf game is in shambles” – said every golfer ever at one point or another.
One of the great things about golf is that you can play the sport in a variety of golf game formats. While stroke play is the most popular, match play, scrambles, skins, and other games are a great way to mix up the day.
Another popular version of golf that is becoming popular is called a shamble. In this article we’ll help clarify how it differs from scramble golf and other types of events.
Shamble Golf 101
So, what is a shamble tournament?
A shamble in golf adds a twist to a normal scramble format. First, let’s clarify how a scramble golf tournament works to elaborate.
In a scramble golf event, which is typically a 4-person event, all four players tee off on the hole. Once the players tee off, they find the best golf ball and all hit their second shots from that spot. This happens until the hole is complete for a team score.
Scramble golf tournaments make it easier to score lower since you take the best option on every shot. Four golfers choosing the best shot on drives, best shot on approaches, and easiest putts gives you a much better chance to make a lot of birdies and eagles. Not to mention some tournaments allow you to purchase mulligans for your group too.
Shamble vs. Scramble in Golf
So what is the difference between a shamble and a scramble in golf?
A shamble starts off the same – all four players tee off on every hole. Then, like a scramble you pick the best drive and drop from that spot. Most tournaments will allow golfers to place the ball within one club length and not change the lie.
For example, if the drive you select is in the rough, you can’t take a club length and play from the fairway. The ball typically needs to stay in the same type of lie and you can’t get any closer to the hole either.
Once you find a spot to play your second shot, this is where things change vs. a scramble. After everyone hits their second shot, then they play his or her own ball in for the rest of the hole. This makes it harder to score as low as a scramble since everyone has to finish the hole.
Scoring wise, you might only take the lowest score of the group. Or, you might need to take scores from multiple players.
For example if it’s a 4-man shamble and two people make 4s and two people make 5s, you would count the two lowest scores. The more scores that are needed as the team plays, the harder it is to go super low. But the team score will be much lower compared to a four ball event since each golfer plays from the best tee shot.
Other Shamble Variations for Golf Outings
Additionally, some shamble tournaments might count all four scores combined but come from the tournament director’s imagination. It differs from event to event and counting all scores might be something that happens in a greenskeeper revenge tournament.
Another way to make these events more challenging on the golf course is to require a certain amount of drives for each golfer. For example, if you require 2-3 drives for each player in the group, it will add more pressure, especially later in the round. If it’s a 4-person event, the most amount of drives required would be four per person.
If you pair a minimum number of drives plus requiring multiple scores, this will make the event much more challenging.
FAQs About Shamble Format
Do you have more questions about this type of golf tournament and shamble scoring? Check out our frequently asked questions and answers below.
What is a 2-man shamble?
A 2-man shamble has the same rules but only two players in the group, thus making it harder to score well. Since there are only two players in the group, you have fewer chances of hitting a good tee shot. If both of you have a bad drive, it’s not always easy to score well when you’re both out of position after your first shot.
Plus, when there are only two players, there are fewer total scores for the hole, which makes it more challenging. But it’s a lot easier to score well in this type of 2-man format vs. alternate shot or best ball. Whether it’s a 2-man or 4-man, low ball team score always wins!
Can you handicap a shamble?
Yes, you can also use handicaps in shambles. Since this type of tournament is part stroke play, part scramble, you can make handicaps work with a few adjustments.
For a four-person shamble, you typically use 80% of your total handicap. Since you can use other players’ drives off the tee, it wouldn’t make sense to use 100% of your normal handicap.
If you’re playing a 2 or 3-person shamble, it’s more common to use 85% of your handicap. Usually the tournament coordinator will take care of all these details before the event. After you check in to get your scorecard and rules it’s easier to understand.
What is a Texas shamble tournament?
A Texas-shamble is a 2-man version of a normal shamble event and also referred to as a modified shamble. Each player tees off and then they select the best drive and play the hole in from there. This is a great spin on a two-person format as there are more options off the tee. This is a shamble version of the classic Texas Scramble.
How do you figure out a shamble handicap?
It depends on how many players are in the shamble (2 vs. 3 vs. 4). For 4-person events, it’s common to use 80% of each player’s handicap. With two or three person events, it’s more common to use 85% of each player’s handicap.
The shamble scoring might also have a gross division which doesn’t include handicaps and are the “true” best scores on the hole.
What are other types of tournament formats?
Final Thoughts on a Golf Shamble
A shamble format are a great mix of scrambles plus stroke play. It gives everyone the advantage of good tee shots (or at least more options) and should make it easier for all players in the group.
If it’s a 4-person shamble, scores will still be pretty low compared to stroke play but not as low as a scramble. But a 2-person “Texas shamble” is much harder to get scramble-like low scores.