Golf tournaments can have a wide range of formats. Depending on the skill levels playing in the event, the golf course being played, and the type of tournament, a shamble can be a great option. A shamble format and scramble format are often confused, but we are here to clear up the confusion once and for all. 

If you have a shamble golf tournament coming up, keep reading to get all the details you need. 

What is a shamble in golf ?

A shamble is a golf tournament format in which all players will hit a drive, the best drive is selected, and then all players hit their own ball into the hole. Choosing the best tee shot allows shamble tournaments to move a bit faster and help those not entirely as experienced in golf. 

Typically, a shamble team will need to record one or two of the scores from the foursome to have it count as the team score for the event. For those struggling with their tee shot, the shamble is a great way to shoot a lower individual score. 

Golf outings often choose the shamble golf format because players can enjoy the entire hole, and the pace of play seems to speed up quite a bit. All you need is one strong driver of the ball on your team, and after that, it shouldn’t be too hard to hit the lowest score possible. 

What is a 2-person shamble?

A 2 person shamble will still require both golfers to hit a drive, the best drive will then be selected, and golfers will play their own ball into the hole from here. Golf teams for a shamble can be two or four people; it depends on the nature of the event and the goals of the tournament administrator. 

image of two person shamble - AEC Info

Golf tournament organizers sometimes choose a scramble golf format instead of a shamble, but when there are two-person teams, a shamble tends to work better than a scramble. There is much less confusion, and the pace of play is just a bit faster. 

A shamble is often considered a version of a scramble tournament. Some players will refer to this as a shamble scramble, but in reality, it is just the shamble. The shamble has all golfers play their own golf ball into the hole from the location of the tee ball. 

Lower handicap golfers or better players often like the shamble tournament a bit more as they can still play a majority of their regular game. If they hit a poor shot off a tee, hopefully, the partner will make up for it, and the team handicap can help take care of the rest. 

How does handicap work in the golf format shamble?

For players to get their full handicap in shamble scoring is not fair. Think about playing to the same handicap while playing the golf hole from a perfect position in the center of the fairway. Therefore, adjustments need to be made to the handicaps to help make sure that the scoring is fair. 

image of golf shamble - AEC Info

For a four-person shamble, the handicap is typically 80% of your total course handicap. For the two- and three-person shamble, you may see 85% of the total handicap. 

The higher handicap for the two- and three-person shamble simply has to do with a player not having as many choices for a great drive.  Be sure to check out our post on How do golf handicaps work here.  You may also enjoy our breakdown of the Stableford scoring system.

Is the shamble format a good option for charity golf tournaments? 

One of the biggest responsibilities of hosting an annual event or charity golf outing is ensuring that the proper competitive golf format is chosen. Some people cannot stand common golf games, and unless they are playing their own golf ball, they won’t sign up for the event. 

The shamble is a perfect mix of golfers getting to play their own ball as well as enjoying the help of a team. Talk to the director of golf or assistant golf professional about the difference between scramble golf and shamble golf, and they will likely tell you that the shamble is preferred among better players. 

Check out our recent post on Four ball golf

Variations of golf – Benefits of a golf shamble 

There are a few benefits to consider when deciding if a golf shamble is the best overall option for your next event. 

  • Great alternative for golfers with higher handicaps
  • Will be faster than regular golf 
  • Can help avid golfers still play the majority of their round 
  • It can be played with or without handicaps 
  • Only one or two scores are needed from each group 

Interested in other Golf formats?  Check out our recent post on the Chapman golf format


Golf terminology is not meant to be confusing, but it does an excellent job of making players wonder what format they should be following.

The Shamble format in golf is a fun way to play the game, and the rules are not hard to figure out. When you put together a great golf shamble team for your next event, make sure that you choose at least one player capable of hitting a strong tee shot. You will rely on this drive many times throughout the round.

Thanks for visiting, and we welcome you to come back for more in-depth golf reviews and insights.