Best ball shamble

Playing in a shamble / best ball matchplay format later this month

Paired up with my father in law who is a bit shorter off of the tee than me, but a good player who beats me frequently. We both bounce around in the 5-7 index range

I think the only adjustment strategy wise will be a “default aggressive” tee strategy. He is more controlled off the tee so I think on holes with penalty areas that I typically would not challenge, he should put one on play then I hit driver (for instance 50 yards between penalty, i am usually dropping back per decade, but here i think you adjust)

Basically the shamble format removes the penalty of the penalty area (assuming partner is in play)

Seems to be the same for pinching fairway bunkers. There are two holes where he would be short of those, so he hits driver. If he is safe, i hit driver if not i go back to default decade flowchart

Any other thoughts? I don’t think approach strategy really changes… you need some good variance to get it close or some good putting variance to make a birdie so it all stays the same there

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Yeah, definitely get him in play and then try to knock one out as far as you can… depending on who’s the better iron player, probably put one on the green so someone can two putt for par and then maybe get more aggressive with the second ball…

Just stay smart, but be aggressive when possible… put your team in position to guarantee a par with a shot for birdie…

I wouldn’t go overly aggressive chasing birdies, but if you know your father in law is on the green and going to two putt, it might make sense to take more aggressive lines into the green.

This assumes he won’t get overwhelmed being the par workhorse…

More than likely the only advantage you can pick up is off the tee. Having 2 to choose from gives 1 of you the ability to be more aggressive. After that I don’t think I would change my strategy any. You may find lightening in the bottle but I would think that over 18 holes you are just putting more pressure on your partner than needs be. (which will probably affect team score)



I was thinking that maybe it could change par 5 strategy but i still think it is more important to be “comfortable” rather than ultra aggressive

Just need to hit em close and make some putts



Just want to hear from the godfather…

Shamble, best ball matchplay

Should we be wailing on driver all day off the tee? For what it is worth flight winner is determined by how many holes you win, not your matchplay record (ie 8 ties and a win is less valuable than winning 4 holes and losing 3)

I am thinking we just play aggressive off the tee and hope we have good variance

Approach shots will be standard decade


Only thing I’d caution is mental state on tee shot - if you’re the second hitter and expecting to be able to bomb a driver on a hole that you normally wouldn’t but your partner hits a bad one, are you able to reset and take 3 wood or iron and put a good swing on it? To me, better to plan for the safe shot and mentally be ready for it and if you get benefit of a free swing go for it.


I am wondering though if you go all gas no brakes?

Both guys say “hey lets just play balls to the wall”

Not necessarily crazy, but hit driver, challenge 35 yard pinching hazards

3 holes are definite 3w / hybrid holes (have first guy hit conservative, 2nd guy plans to hit conservative… if first guy is safe pivot to driver)

but the other 11 you just say “hey we are going to hit driver and we need to ham and egg to win our flight

Psychologically you just say “we are playing aggressive off the tee because we have two cracks at it… whatever happens happens”

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I may do a full hole by hole write up with strategy and report back :joy: :joy:


Figure out where the conservative play is likely to pick up strokes against the field (those holes where most will just reflexively hit driver) and, as you said, if #1 player is safe #2 gets a free swing.

I’d be super into reading a breakdown! My league does shambles every few weeks and I’m curious of your findings. In our first one I had a sub as a partner who was a very nice man…and we used all my tee shots except one. Would love to actually be able to strategize a little more

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I’ve been thinking about this a little bit more… We can also break this down prisoner dilemma style and tease out some conclusions…

I think the big question becomes: what do you mean by AGGRESSIVE and how much does that change the likelihood of your success?

I think it varies on the hole and brings into question what strengths you are playing to…

Some examples:

The 14th hole of my home course has a creek about 150 yards from the green and it’s about a 240 yard carry… if your father in law puts it safely infront of the creek and you have a reasonable shot from his tee shot, obviously it makes sense for you to hit aggressively and carry the creek, even if that distance is a reach for you… there isn’t much gain left to be had by moving the ball closer to the creek, but a ton to be had if you can carry it and have 120 yards in… I think this is a situation where it’s obvious to be aggressive.

The 13th hole is all downhill with some interesting ridges… if you can get past the 200 yard marker, you will get some decent roll and have 150 yards in… If your FIL hits it to the top of the hill, and you are deciding between aggressively trying to get it to 100 yards, or making sure you just carry the hill and have 150 in… I think it makes more sense to take the high percentage play and try to have 150 yards into the green… (though if your father in law can carry the hill, it would make sense for you to get aggressive and see how far down the hill you can get).

My overall thought is: Both of you playing your father in laws ball is going to be a net negative for the team… He’s a 5 handicap from that drive, and you are likely worse from that distance… From your typical drive, you will play to your 5-7 handicap and your father in law should play to a lower handicap, as he will have less club in than he’s used to.

Basically, I think the strategy that works best for you in a normal round will work best for you guys as a team, other than in places where your normal tee shot will put you close to where your FIL is… unless you can cut off a huge chunk of yardage by taking an aggressive line.

I think your biggest advantage is going to be having your father in law with 2-3 clubs less into every green… hopefully he will have plenty of looks at birdies and you guys will make a ton of 2 putt pars.

I ran some numbers and it just comes down to how penal the risk is

If it is just a narrow / pinched fairway with light rough and light trees both players should bomb driver

If there is a penalty area or a deep fairway bunker or trees that are truly jail, you should play a conservative shot hoping to get a free rip with the second shot

It is an expected value calculation

The other thing I know from decade is that:

  • opponents will not play optimally from the trees

  • opponents will likely be too aggressive playing approach shots generally

So, we press the advantage off the tee BUT then shift gears hard and play super disciplined. Take medicine and go for ngir if in trees, choose proper decade targets and hope some putts roll in

It is match play, so if we don’t drive one in the fairway, the goal is to have two par putts from reasonable distances and live to fight another day

Tiger 5 still probably predict success in this event… you just get a bit more aggressive off the tee

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Ok I started messing around with the numbers and it is really stupidly simple… most of this is based on DECADE driving decision map:

  • If driver is the play or very close on the decision map (pinching hazard close to the cutoff) you should probably both bomb driver

    • the nature of the hazard matters (light rough and light trees should not deter you… bomb it and someone SHOULD be playable most of the time
    • penalty hazards and true “jail situations” may change your calculation and cause you to play a safe shot first and then gamble with a driver
  • if DECADE decision map clearly tells you to drop back, first player should drop back, second player decision depends on the first

It all starts with “what is the expected value of hitting driver vs. dropping back”… unless dropping back is clearly a better EV play per DECADE, you both bomb drive and benefit from the independent probability you are benefiting from

If Driver is negative EV, you benefit from dependent probability as you can play one safe and then gamble on the second drive as you are playing w house money

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Dispersion 65
FW 30
% 46.2%
Light Rough (0.3)
Width 5
% 7.7%
Hazard 1 (1.5)
Width 9
% 13.8%
Hazard 2 (1.0)
Width 21
% 32.3%
FW 0.1
Rough -
Hazard 1 (0.2)
Hazard 2 (0.2)
Strokes Gained (0.3)