Deciphering golf formats, the distinction between a Scramble and Ambrose is a subtle one. Plus we explore variations like Texas Scramble, Florida Scramble, and the intriguing Bramble.
For a long time, I assumed the Ambrose and Scramble golf formats were the same thing. And while some people do tend to use the terms interchangeably, particularly in Australia where it is commonly played, they have one subtle difference.
They both have a bunch of variations used on corporate golf days, golf trips and among mates on golf courses around the world. Here is the distinction between a Scramble and Ambrose as well as a bunch of variations to try next time you’re on the golf course.
The Scramble format involves all members of a team teeing off. The team then collectively selects the best shot, and each subsequent shot is played from this chosen position. This process continues until the ball is in the hole.
The Ambrose format is commonly thought to have originated in Australia, named after an American couple who lived near Victor Harbor in South Australia. In Ambrose, all team members tee off, and the team collectively decides on the best shot – just like in a Scramble.
However, the key distinction lies in the implementation of team handicaps. Each team’s net score, factoring in the handicap, determines its performance. To determine a team’s handicap, simply add up the handicaps of each golfer in the team, and divide it by the number of players in a team, multiplied by two. So divide a four-person team’s total handicap by 8, a 3-person team by 6 and a 2-player team by 4.
e.g. If there are four golfers in the team with handicaps of 4,12, 17 and 22. Then the team handicap would be 45 divided by 8, 5.625. Or five and five-eighths!
A bunch of variations on the scramble golf format also exist! See more below.
The Texas Scramble injects a regional twist into the equation that is also sometimes added to the Ambrose format. Much like the classic Scramble, players collectively choose the most favourable shot, but here’s the Texan flair – one player’s shot must be used a minimum number of times during the round. Some forms of Texas Scramble require a player to play their own ball on par-3s.
The Bramble format introduces another twist to the game. After every player tees off, the team selects the best shot. However, the player who executed that shot sits out for the next stroke. It’s a delicate dance where each member takes turns in the limelight, creating a rhythm that sets the Bramble apart.
The Florida Scramble combines the cooperative traditional Scramble formats with the individual challenge of completing the hole independently after the initial shot selection. Like a scramble, each player tees off and then after the best one is chosen, each player plays their own ball into the hole. The best score gets added to the scorecard.