As a golfer, you probably know the most basic formats of golf; stroke play and match play. If you are new to this sport, you probably haven’t heard of the Stableford scoring system.
If you want to know more about this fascinating club-level of playing golf, then read on.
A Quick History Lesson About the Stableford Scoring System
It was quite interesting to learn that the Stableford Scoring System is older than a century. Invented by Dr. Frank Barney Gorton Stableford in the late 1800s who had the best interest of the regular golf player at heart. Dr Stableford has often been hailed as the “Patron Saint of Club Golfers”.
He first started with his own scoring system when he saw that golf players were throwing in the towel when they had unfortunate starts. So, he developed a scoring system that encourages players to keep going and finish the round. It was first used in 1898 at the Glamorganshire Golf Club in Wales. Stableford’s system was only introduced to tournament play in 1932 at the Wallasey Golf Club in England.
Fast-Forward to 2023 it has become a uniquely widespread golf scoring system that several tournaments use in the United States.
The Barracuda Championship is one such golf tournament, and is the only PGA Tour that uses the Stableford system. This is done using an improvised Stableford scoring system.
This heartens competitive play on a greater level than other scoring systems. The main aim of the modified Stableford system is also to let players get the maximum score.
The Benefits of The Stableford Scoring System
We’ll look at how the Stableford scoring system works in a moment, let’s explore the benefits for now.
Stableford’s biggest focus and motivation for this system was to keep golfers in the game. This meant finding a way to encourage them to keep playing after a rough start or one or two bad holes during the round. Here are the benefits:
- Even though you won’t get any points for a double-bogey with the standard Stableford scoring system, you can swiftly even the scores against your competitors with a birdie or eagle.
- Also under normal stroke play, you’d most likely play it safe. However, in Stableford scoring, you’ll probably want to take a chance with an eagle or birdie.
- Getting involved in different golf formats is also a fun way to mix things up and keep the game interesting.
Golf Handicaps in the Stableford System
Handicaps are also considered when playing a Stableford event. This gives participating players ,of different skill levels, the ability to keep scores more closely.
Here are two examples:
- If a 5-handicap golfer would get a single stroke on the five most challenging holes of the course. “Par” for these five holes would increase by one stroke. In a situation where one of the five toughest holes was a par 4, it would play as a par 5 for this golfer. In other words, they would get par points if they shot a 5 on the hole.
- Then we look at a situation where a 20-handicap golfer was able to get one stroke for every hole, and an additional stroke for the two most challenging holes on an 18-hole course. If the hardest hole is a par-4, it would play as a par-6 for a 20-handicap golfer. They would get a score of 5 for birdie points.
Be Warned. There will be golf players who claim that the skill and element of taking a risk is lost in Stableford Golf. They’ll also say that while this method of playing is enjoyable, it is ultimately still less of a test compared to medal golf.
There is also the argument that it also presents lower handicappers with some difficulty. The argument is that they aren’t given the same buffer as high handicappers when it comes to the shots they are given.
Understanding Stableford Scoring
Stableford’s scoring system is mostly used at golf clubs.
The total points awarded on every hole is decided by comparing the number of strokes taken to a permanent score. In most instances this is determined by par.
This fixed score is tweaked in accordance with the player’s handicap. When a player has taken two strokes beyond the regulated fixed score, they may leave the hole and move ahead to the next one. This gives players the ability to play aggressively while letting a few bad holes to happen.
After each round has ended, the number of points scored on each hole is calculated and used to give a complete score.
The victor in a Stableford competition is the golf player who has accumulated the highest point total. This is completely topsy-turfy to other regular golf.
The fixed score would be adjusted as per the stroke indexes of the holes, starting with the hardest hole as the lowest stroke index 1, through to the easiest, stroke index 18.
Let’s looks at the following scenario breakdown:
- A 36 handicap would raise the score by two on all holes.
- In comparison, a 45 handicap would increase their score by three on the nine. toughest holes- rated 1 to 9.
- and by two on the 9 easier holes-rated 10 to 18).
- If a hole is a Par 5 and rated 1 then the 45 Handicapper would have a Par of 8
- On the other hand, a 36 Handicapper would have a Par of 7 on the same hole.
Point Values According to the Standard Stableford System
Here’s a small summary of how points are allocated.
0 Points – Double Bogey or Worse (Two strokes or more over par)
1 Point – Bogey (One stroke over par)
2 Points – Par
3 Points – Birdie (One stroke under par)
4 Points – Eagle (Two strokes under par)
5 Points – Albatross/Double Eagle (Three strokes under par)
6 Points – Condor (Four strokes under par)
While this point system is a typical example, the point values actually are whatever players or tournament orchestrators want. This is known as a “Modified Stableford.”
In 2019 the PGA used a modified Stableford scoring system during the Barracuda Championship. It had the following point values:
-3 Points – Double Bogey or Worse (Two strokes or more over par)
-1 Point – Bogey (One stroke over par)
0 Points – Par
+2 Points – Birdie (One stroke under par)
+5 Points – Eagle (Two strokes under par)
+8 Points – Albatross/Double Eagle (Three strokes under par)
Modified Stableford scoring encourages competitive play seeing that players are able to amass more points. Players gain more points for decent scores than losing points for bogeys.
Even though the Stableford has been around for over a century, it is still one of the most enjoyable golf formats players can use, from beginners to professionals. If you cannot find a social outing that offers the Stableford experience, you can just create your own version with your family or friends and use a score-keeping app to make it easier.
Not only will switching to playing the Stableford format challenge your skills as a golf player, but it will also change your routine if you are a regular player, which will add more fun and excitement to the game!