The Ambrose format is very popular as it allows all standards of golfers to mix and play together with equal enjoyment irrespective of ability. It also helps to promote teamwork as one score is recorded per hole and generally minimises the amount of time looking for lost balls.
The Ambrose format may vary according to the competition but a general, popular format is the main features of this method of scoring.
How does Ambrose work
Groups of four players (4 person ambrose) work as a team. Each player hits off the tee, the best shot is selected and all other players pick up their ball and place it, within one handspan, alongside the best ball. Each person then hits a second shot from the same spot. The best shot is again selected. This continues until the ball is in the hole. On the putting green the best ball is marked and the other balls are played from this position.
One score is thus recorded on each hole. This is the sum of the best shots used throughout the hole.
In an ambrose format you would expect your gross score to be under or very close to the par of the course. This is because the best shot from the team is chosen for each shot. In other words your group has four chances to hit a good shot. It certainly takes the pressure off the less skilled golfers and is a good team building format.
During the course of the round all player's drives must be used. So if you have a beginner golfer in your group it may be prudent to use their drives early in the round so as to not put pressure on them as the rounds concludes.
Key Features of Ambrose
If your best ball is played from within a hazard then each of the player's balls must be played from within that hazard
If you are in a team of 3 players (for 4 person ambrose) then your group can take a fourth putt by any of the team members
Your end score is adjusted for the handicap of the players in your team
If you are in a team of 4 golfers (playing 4 person ambrose) then the combined handicap of all players is calculated and divided by 8 to arrive at the team handicap. This is then subtracted from the Gross Score of the Team to arrive at the Net Score
A typical winning score is in the mid 50s as a Net Score. It is rare (but possible) that a winning score is under 50