Explaining the Bramble Golf Tournament Format

The 4-person bramble format combines elements of scramble and best ball

4 golfers using pull carts
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You can think of the "bramble" golf tournament format as a combination of a scramble and a best ball. The bramble starts with the members of a team playing a scramble off the tee, but from that point on it's every golfer for him- or herself into the hole. One or more low balls of the side count as the team score.

The bramble format also goes by the name "shamble." Yes, a bramble and a shamble are the exact same thing. Bramble tournaments are most commonly played using 4-person teams.

Brambles Begin as Scrambles Off the Tee

What do we mean by "scramble off the tee"? As in a scramble tournament, in the bramble format every golfer on the team tees off. The team members compare the results of those four drives: Who hit the best drive? The team selects the best drive, and the other three team members pick up their golf balls and move them to the location of that best drive.

Then all four golfers play their second strokes from that location, just as you would in a scramble.

But After That, the Bramble is 'Normal Golf'

Following the "scramble off the tee" start — after the team members have each hit their second shots — it's just regular golf again. That means that each golfer plays his or her own ball, from where it lies, on each stroke until the ball is holed.

So: Hit the drives, select the best drive and all four golfers play from that spot on stroke two; for Stroke three until every ball is holed, it's just regular golf.

Scoring In a Bramble Tournament

The result on each hole is four scores (for a four-person team), one for each golfer on the team. What counts as the team score?

Bramble scoring methods can vary. The team bramble score can be the one low ball of the group, the two low balls combined, or some other variation depending on the tournament director's instructions.

One variation in bramble scoring that is sometimes used is the 1-2-3 Best Ball method of scoring: The one low ball among team members on the first hole, then the two low scores (combined) on the second hole, then the three low balls (combined) on the third hole, and on the fourth hole the rotation starts over.

What are the benefits of a bramble format? A bramble tournament should be a little bit faster than a best ball tournament because all four golfers will be playing from a decent position for their second shots (unless all four hit terrible drives).

However, the bramble allows each golfer on a team to play "real golf" (unlike in a scramble). That's because from the second stroke on, each golfer is playing, well, real golf: playing his or her own ball into the hole, and playing each stroke as it lies.