What is a Shamble in Golf? Shamble vs Scramble Differences

What is a Shamble in Golf?

A “Shamble” is a golf format where every member on a team of 2-4 golfers hits a tee shot. Following the tee shots, the best shot is selected. Each member then places a ball at the best tee shot and completes the hole by themselves. 

Usually, the best score from one individual member of a team is used for the team’s score on each hole, though sometimes the lowest 2-3 scores are factored into the team’s score.

Golf "Shamble" vs "Scramble"

A golf "Scramble" is a format where a team of 2-4 golfers each hit tee shots and choose the best tee shot to play their second shot from. All team members then hit their second shot from the selected tee shot. Again, the best of the second shots is selected as the location that all team members will hit their third shots.

All team members continue to hit from the team's chosen/best previous shot until the hole is complete.

Golf Scramble Example Illustration

The image above shows an example of a 2-golfer scramble:

  • One golfer hits their tee shot onto the fairway, while the other hits into the left rough. The team chooses the fairway ball as the location to hit their second shots.
  • On the team's second shots, one golfer hits into a greenside bunker, and the other ends up on the fairway short of the green. The team chooses to play the ball on the fairway short of the green.
  • The team takes their third shots with one golfer hitting over the green in a sand bunker and the other hits on the green. As you'd expect, these two golfers choose to play from the ball on the green.
  • For their fourth stroke, a putt, one golfer misses the putt, but the other holes it. The team has now completed the hole in 4 strokes.

Now that you know what a scramble is, here's the difference of a shamble vs a scramble:

The tee shot of a "Shamble" plays like a "Scramble" with all team members playing from the best drive. However, after this point, all team members complete the hole individually as if they were playing by stroke play (the most common scoring format). Though each golfer plays their own ball after the tee shot, like in stroke play, the team's scores for the hole is the lowest score of any individual golfer (like when playing the Best Ball format).

If you're already familiar with both "Scramble" and "Best Ball" golf scoring formats, you can think of a "Shamble" as a Scramble for the first shot, then Best Ball from for the rest of the hole.

Shamble Example

Golf Shamble Example Illustration

In case you're still not clear on how a shamble is played, here is an example of a hole played by two golfers in a shamble format:

  • One golfer hits their tee shot in the left rough, while the other finds the fairway. The team chooses the ball in the fairway as the location for their next shots.
  • Golfer A:

    • Hits their second shot from the fairway into a greenside bunker.
    • From the sand, they get onto the green.
    • Golfer A then takes two puts to finish the hole for a total of 5 strokes.
  • Golfer B:

    • Hits their second shot from the fairway onto the green.
    • They need just one putt to complete the hole for a total of 3 strokes.
  • The shamble team uses golfer B's score of 3 for their team score on the hole.

Final Thoughts

Both scramble and shamble formats are an excellent way for golfers at various skill levels to contribute to a team score. These formats are frequently used for more casual competitive team events and golf outings.

When comparing the scramble vs shamble format, a traditional scramble gives less skilled golfers a better chance to contribute to the team's score than a shamble. This is because one good shot benefits the team in a scramble, while (aside from the tee shot) a team member would have to play well for an entire hole to contribute in a shamble.