This post was most recently updated on October 19th, 2021
There are many different golf scoring methods. Most golfers participate in standard stroke play and sometimes dabble in other types of golf games such as match play, or in a scramble.
The stableford scoring system can mix things up and create a new fun game for groups to play.
Different scores are rewarded or punished in different ways in this game mode.
This article will explain how to play different variations of stableford.
Table of Contents
What Is Stableford Scoring?
The stableford scoring format is a scoring system that awards positive points or negative points to a player depending on the number of strokes they accumulate during a hole.
Below is the R&A’s stableford scoring system:
6 points – Four strokes under par
5 points – Three strokes under par
4 points – Two strokes under par
3 points – One stroke under par
2 points – Even par
1 point – One stroke over par
0 points – Two strokes or more than par
There are different variations of stableford scoring that will be explained later in this article.
History Of The Stableford Scoring System
Dr. Frank Barney Gorton Stableford, who lived from 1870-1959, was the inventor of the game, Stableford.
He created the game so players wouldn’t quit trying hard after blowing up their first few holes.
In stroke play, if a golfer messes up early in the round, they are likely to stop playing their hardest whether they are in a competitive match or playing recreationally.
The first round of stableford was inaugurally played in Penarth, Wales at Glamorganshire Golf Club in 1898. Competitively, it was first tried out 34 years later in Wallasey, England at Wallasey Golf Club.
This game type is common in the United Kingdom and is used for many tournaments and local competitions.
A positive aspect of stableford is that it allows players and groups to play fast. Rather than finish the hole like in stroke play, if it’s not possible to score a point, the golfer does not have to finish a bad hole.
Hitting seven strokes on a par 4 is quicker than hitting 12 from in the woods.
Stableford is not as commonly played in the United States but is the only other format used on the PGA tour (apart from traditional stroke and matchplay).
How Do You Score Stableford On The Scorecard?
Scoring stableford on a scorecard is easily done. All a person has to do is write down his or her score for each hole.
Obviously, the higher the number the better, which is the opposite compared to stroke play.
After all the holes are tallied up, whether you’re playing nine holes or 18, the highest score wins.
How Do You Calculate Handicap For Stableford Points?
Calculating handicap for stableford points might seem difficult since it does not consist of normal scoring, but USA Today’s Golfweek explains it in four steps via a simple manner.
Using the USGA handicap index, figure out your golf course handicap.
Look at the handicap rating per hole which is noted on the scorecard. Depending on it, you will attain a handicap stroke on the hole. If the rating is lesser or equal to the course handicap, then you will earn a stroke for the hole.
Play a hole and score it. Should you not get a handicap stroke, calculate your strokes and figure out how many points you earned on a hole.
If you do earn a handicap stroke, subtract a stroke from your score before adding up your points. As an example, if you had a double bogey then it turns into a bogey giving you -1 points instead of -3 which is worse.
Tabulate your points at the finish of the round. The golfer who has the highest number of points wins the stableford format.
What Is A Good Stableford Score?
A good stableford score can be decided by the golfer who is playing. There isn’t a standard norm for a “good” score.
If a golfer shoots the highest and wins among their group, then that can be considered a good score.
Richy Werenski won the 2020 Professional Barracuda Championship with a total score of +39. For this PGA tour event, it was considered a good score.
Obviously, it would be very difficult for an amateur to shoot this low over four rounds.
Is Stableford Scoring Based On Net Score For Amateurs?
Stableford can be scored on net or gross score depending on the event or group of people playing.
It can also be scored with handicaps to help more or less experienced players become more equal to the field or their playing partners.
When playing for money these details can be crucial for making things fair.
Benefits Of Stableford System
As mentioned earlier in this article, blowing up a hole or two allows golfers to still remain in the competition. Keeping the game tight between golfers is a massive benefit.
In stroke play, if player A were to record a 10 on a par 5 early in the round after landing the ball in the water twice, they would be at a severe disadvantage against player B for the rest of the nine or 18 holes.
Although, in stableford, they aren’t out of it just yet. Their opponent could go on a bad streak and bring the score close again.
If one player quadruples a hole, and another player doubles, then they will both receive the same amount of points in standard stableford scoring (zero points).
Professional Tournaments That Use The Stableford System
The Barracuda Championship in Truckee, California (located in the Reno-Tahoe area) is the only PGA Tour event that uses the stableford scoring system.
In 2020, Richy Werenski (+39) won the tournament over Troy Merritt (+38) and Fabian Gomez (+37).
The format for the tournament was a modified stableford scoring system which we will go into in the next section.
Modified Stableford vs British Stableford
Depending on the location or how a tournament or group of golfers wants to score a competition, they can use modified stableford scoring format or the British stableford scoring format.
The British version is more forgiving for golfers who tend to destroy holes.
The modified stableford scoring breakdown consists of the following:
Double Eagle: 8 Points
Eagle 5 Points
Birdie 2 Points
Par 0 Points
Bogey -1 Points
Double Bogey -2 or -3 Points
British stableford scoring is calculated the following way:
Eagle 4 Points
Birdie 3 Points
Par 2 Points
Bogey 1 Points
Double Bogey 0 Points
Reverse Stableford Scoring
Another way to play stableford is by doing it in reverse scoring. This is also known as inverted or delta scoring.
The way it works is every hole a golfer starts with a value of +2. You then minus your stableford value to calculate the number compared to par.
If you made a bogey for example then that is 2-1 equalling one for your score.
This is a fun way to mix things up if you are tired of playing the standard way of stableford.
Stableford is a fun game that isn’t common in most golf circles. It is a game that allows both high-handicaps and low handicaps to be more competitive when playing together. So, if you’re at the course and want to challenge a better golfer this is the game to do it in.
There are different variations to scoring which allows for multiple options depending on what the group is feeling. Be sure to comment your experiences and opinions regarding stableford.
The Editorial Staff at Golfible is a team of golfing geeks and enthusiasts led by founder Alec Rose. All have the same obsession with golf tech, equipment updates and avoiding rain on the course.