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What is Stableford Scoring in Golf?

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what is stableford scoring in golf

Stableford scoring in golf is a system where golfers earn points for the number of strokes they’ve taken on each hole. The number of points earned depends on the golfer’s score relative to par. You score 1 point for a bogey and 2 points for a par. 3 points can be scored for a birdie and 4 points for an eagle, and so on. For example, if a golfer takes 5 shots on a hole that has a par of 4, they would earn 1 point. In contrast, if they took 3 shots on the same hole (a birdie), they would score 3 points. The goal of Stableford scoring is to encourage golfers to take more risks, knowing that they will still be rewarded for their good shots even if they don’t end up winning the hole. As a result, Stableford scoring can lead to more exciting and competitive rounds of golf. So next time you’re out on the course, don’t be afraid to take some risks – your score may thank you for it.

Let’s take a closer look at this fun and rewarding golf scoring system and find out what is Stableford scoring.

What is Stableford scoring?

In golf stroke play, you count the total number of strokes taken to complete 18 holes. So the lower the number of strokes the better. However, in Stableford, the goal is to score as many points as possible.

Here are the possible Stableford points values:

  • 5 Points: Albatross – 3 strokes under par
  • 4 Points: Eagle – 2 strokes under par
  • 3 Points: Birdie – 1 stroke under par
  • 2 Points: Par
  • 1 Point: Bogey – 1 stroke over par
  • 0 Points: Double Bogey – 2 strokes over par 

The history of the Stableford scoring system

The Stableford scoring system was first created more than 100 years ago. Created by Dr. Frank Barney Gorton Stableford, it was used as a way to stop golfers from giving up too quickly when they had a poor start. We’ve all had a round of golf where we’ve had a couple of disastrous holes. Stableford scoring stops you from getting too downhearted, as you know that you can still score points and potentially win.

This style of golf was first used unofficially at The Glamorganshire golf course, in Penarth, Wales in 1898. It was eventually used in an official competition in May 1932 at Wallasey Golf Club, England.

Dr. Stableford is sometimes referred to as the “Patron Saint of Club Golfers” as he created a scoring system that allows all players of differing handicaps to compete on equal terms. His scoring system is the preferred scoring system in a lot of countries, including the UK.

what is stableford scoring in golf

What is modified Stableford?

The modified Stableford is where the system can be made more challenging or easier. The above scoring chart is a typical Stableford points system. However, it is up to the group of golfers / the golf course to determine the values.

The Barracuda Championship on the PGA tour is a modified Stableford event. It promotes aggressive and exciting play as there are more points available for a lower stroke count. The players are also penalized more severely with points taken away for bogeys or worse. It uses the following points values:

  • 8 Points: Albatross – 3 strokes under par
  • 5 Points: Eagle – 2 strokes under par
  • 2 Points: Birdie – 1 stroke under par
  • 0 Points: Par
  • -1 Point: Bogey – 1 stroke over par
  • -3 Points: Double Bogey – 2 strokes over par

How do I adjust for my handicap?

A golfer’s handicap can be factored in when playing a Stableford event. This allows players of differing skill levels to compete on a more level playing field. It is not uncommon for scratch golfers to play Stableford events with golfers with 20+ handicap. And it is not uncommon for the higher handicapper to win the event.

Based on the stroke index or difficulty of each hole, golfers can adjust their scores against how many additional strokes their handicap allows.

Take a golfer with a handicap of 24 as an example. He or she gets 1 extra stroke on all 18 holes and an additional stroke on the 6 most challenging holes (Stroke index 1-6). If the toughest hole was a par 4, it would be adjusted to a par 6 for that golfer. This means that 5 strokes on this hole would effectively be a birdie for the 24-handicapper golfer. They would score 3 points.

At the other end of the handicap scale, let’s use a golfer with a handicap of 6. They are allowed 1 additional shot on the 6 most challenging holes. Their effective par for those 6 holes would increase by one stroke. If one of the hardest holes was a par 5, it would play as a par 6 for this golfer. So 5 strokes on this hole would be a birdie and 3 points.

What’s a good score in Stableford?

Golfers should aim for 36 points, which works out to 2 points per hole. This means that you are playing to your handicap. On a day when your swing is not as smooth as you’d like, or the weather conditions are horrific, anything over 30 points is a good score. Sometimes in club competitions, it is not uncommon for golfers to score 40+ points. You will, however, be referred to as a “bandit” if you sign for anything over 45 points. So beware!

what is stableford scoring in golf

The Pros and Cons of Stableford

Pros:

  • Even after a poor start or a bad couple of holes, you are still in the competition
  • It’s quick to catch up with other competitors with just one good hole
  • Aggressive shots are rewarded handsomely if you pull them off
  • One of the most uncomplicated ways to have fun on the golf course
  • It helps with the pace of play as golfers can pick up if they’re already on a double bogey
  • Being able to pick up also eliminates embarrassing scores

Cons:

  • It can favor higher handicaps as they can multiple blobs in a round and still win
  • It loses the jeopardy of hitting a bad shot
  • It’s less of a test compared to stroke play golf

The Cut line

The Stableford scoring system is a fun and enjoyable way to play golf. It speeds up the pace of play considerably and allows you to remain competitive in competition even after a couple of bad holes. It’s also a good way for beginners to get into the game of golf as you can’t score worse than a double bogey. It can stop you from having a complete meltdown by allowing you to pick up. What’s not to like about the Stableford system?

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AUTHOR

Tommy is a confirmed golf fanatic. He's been playing golf for 20 years and just loves everything about the game. His dad used to play golf a lot and watch the PGA and European Tours, so Tommy started watching too. Now he knows a lot about golf and loves to coach people and help them play better.

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