Are you a fan of watching the PGA Tour? The thrill of the live events is amazing when the rounds get competitive. If you’re a long-time fan, you might notice that the Barracuda Championship, held at the Tahoe Mountain Club, uses a slightly altered scoring system than the rest of the stops. The “Stableford” scoring system is different from matchplay and strokeplay scoring systems used in the Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup.
With Stableford, the goal isn’t to shoot the lowest score possible with triples and doubles. Instead, you’re using a modified scoring system for bogeys, pars, birdies, eagles, and others. The goal with the Stableford system is to get a higher score, sounds weird, right? So, why use the Stableford at all? Isn’t it just going to confuse the players? The reality is that the Stableford scoring system adds a new dimension to the game – and it’s a lot of fun.
Change things up with your friends when you head to the course this weekend. The Stableford scoring system gives you the chance to experience a new side to golf. Using the Stableford allows you to use an aggressive approach to your gameplay. It works out to be a lot of fun for everyone.
The Stableford rewards those outlandish shots from deep on the fairway towards the pin. It removes the role of “playing safe,” giving you the chance to cut loose and shoot those big shoots you would otherwise never think about taking with matchplay or strokeplay games.
This post unpacks everything you need to know about this unusual but entertaining scoring system. Are you ready? Let’s dive into the details of the Stableford system!
The Legacy of the Stableford Scoring System
- 1 The Legacy of the Stableford Scoring System
- 2 Unpacking the Stableford Scoring System
- 3 How Do Handicaps Work with the Stableford Scoring System?
- 4 Why Bother With the Stableford Scoring System?
- 5 Stableford Calculator Pro by Clark Apps
- 6 Stableford Scoring Pros & Cons
- 7 Stableford Scoring FAQs
This scoring system has a legacy extending back over a century. Dr. Frank Stableford (1870–1959), aka “The Patron Saint of Club Golfers,” invented this scoring system in the late 1800s. Stableford noticed that players who experienced bad starts would often give up on the round, losing their competitive interest in the game.
The debut of the Stableford system was at the Glamorganshire Golf Club in Penarth, Wales, in 1898. The Stableford systems method of going-for-broke with your gameplay means that those golfers could enjoy the rest of the round. Even if you end up pulling a triple-bogey on a hole, it’s not going to ruin the fun of the game when using the Stableford scoring system.
The “Wallasey Golf Club” in England was the first to introduce the Stableford scoring system to tournament play. The system’s success led it to migrate across the Atlantic to the Americas, where it also caught on as a fun alternative to the traditional scoring methods.
Unpacking the Stableford Scoring System
With the Stableford scoring system, the golfer with the highest point tally, not the lowest, wins the game. Usually, that’s the best golfer, but that’s not always the case. The group determines the number of points allocated to score par before starting the game.
This scoring strategy encourages risk-taking with gameplay, leading to some impressive shots and plenty of fun for the players. There’s no real penalty for shooting a big score, eliminating the need to keep your game tight. You’re more likely to take a chance yourself when you see the other players risking it and succeeding.
Here’s the classic structure for the Stableford scoring system.
- Four under: +6-points (but you’ll rarely encounter this score since it’s next to impossible to land).
- Three under: +5-points (hole-in-one, albatross/ double-eagle).
- Two under: +4-points (eagle).
- One under: +3-points (birdie).
- Par: +2-points.
- One over: -1-point (bogey).
- Two over: 0-points (double or over).
The Stableford scoring system incentivizes the players to shoot birdies and pars to have the highest number at the end of the round. You don’t have any negative scores with the traditional Stableford system, so you can pick up after going over a double.
It’s important to note that there is a “modified” version of the Stableford. The changes to the system can either make the gameplay more challenging or easier, depending on the setup.
The modified Stableford used by the PGA tour at the Barracuda Open includes the following adjustments to the classic system.
- Four under: +6-points.
- Three under: +5-points.
- Two under: +4-points.
- One under: +3-points.
- Par: +2-points.
- One over: +1-points.
- Two over: -3-points.
So, the only real change over the classic system is the addition of -1 point for a bogey and -3 points for double-bogeys or over. Since the pros are, well – pros, the modified scoring system makes it more competitive during tournament play and more exciting for fans watching from the sidelines or on TV.
Typically, amateur events use a modified system incentivizing par scores, but they don’t go overboard with penalizing larger scores. It’s sort of a happy medium between the classic scoring system and the PGA-tour model.
How Do Handicaps Work with the Stableford Scoring System?
So, how does your handicap fit into the Stableford Scoring system? Dealing with handicaps can get a bit messy when you’re using the Stableford. It increases the math involved, and your scorecard might look more like an accountant’s ledger after you tally things up at the end of the round.
Let’s apply the Stableford system to your handicap and see what happens. For our example, let’s assume you have a 10 handicap. We’ll also use a modified version of the scoring system to account for your handicap.
Players subtract one from the total score on your 1 – 10 handicap holes, depending on your handicap. Therefore, if you shoot par on any of these holes, you’ll actually be making a birdie. So, you’ll use your net score when calculating the number of points scored on every hole. Essentially, you’ll use this method instead of the gross scoring model.
It’s also important to note that there is no subtraction of points from your score in games where you don’t manage to stroke on the hole. Those players with handicaps over 18 will have to subtract two points on specific holes.
As mentioned, the scoring can get a little messy. You’ll need to ensure you double-check everything after each hole, or it’s easy to complicate things. Fortunately, technology comes to save the day. There are plenty of Stableford scoring apps available for iOS and Android devices. Download one of them and avoid the hassle and need for a math degree when you’re out on the course trying to have some fun with your friends.
Why Bother With the Stableford Scoring System?
Dr. Stableford changed things up in the golf scoring model after introducing the Stableford scoring system. It’s a disruptive scoring system, and many purists don’t enjoy it. However, if you’re looking for a way to bring a fresh edge to your gameplay, the Stableford offers you a fun twist on your standard game.
Add it in every now and again when you want to change things up. By allowing yourself and the other players to take risker shots, you’ll find that it improves your gameplay when you move back to the traditional scoring system.
The Stableford scoring system rewards taking those long drives and shots where you would otherwise decide to play it safe. This risk-taking behavior will leech into your standard gameplay. It makes you more aware of your skillset on the course and when it’s worth taking a risk in your usual gameplay.
At worst, it’s a great way to change things up and have some fun out on the course. While the Stableford system is more popular in clubs across the UK than in the US, that doesn’t mean you won’t find people using it in clubs around the globe.
If you can’t find a club running the Stableford system, just grab your friends and set up a modifying version of the system using an app. One of the biggest advantages of the Stableford system is that it speeds up the gameplay. When everyone’s taking a risk with their gameplay, you cover ground faster.
The next time someone in your four-ball cracks that double-bogey, they have the option of picking up instead of throwing their club into the rough or water in a burst of anger. A word of advice – make sure everyone understands the modified scoring system before teeing off. Otherwise, you’re sure to get someone haggling about the scores when you’re tallying up at the end of the round.
Stableford Calculator Pro by Clark Apps
Stableford Calculator Pro is available for iOS and Android services. Download it to your device and take it with you to the course. You get a scoring system for up[ to 18-holes, and four players, with a user-friendly interface and easy setup before the game.
You have options for choosing the Classic Stableford System or switching things up to a modified version for Pro-like tournament play. You also have options for modifying the scoring system to any preference you like. The app tracks it all in one easy-to-access place.
There’s no more need to leave your scorecard looking like a dog’s breakfast at the end of the round. This app from Clark’s comes with everything you need in-app to keep your game on track. Complete your scorecard editing at any point during the round.
After you finish the round, share your scorecard on social media, with integrations for sharing on Facebook and Twitter. The app has plenty of useful features, such as the ability to work out countback scores, and you get a helpful tutorial to navigate the platform.
Stableford Scoring Pros & Cons
Stableford Scoring Pros
- Speed up gameplay and take on more risk with each shot you play.
- Players can pick up if they’re having a shocker of a hole, reducing the frustration of playing through to the cup.
- The Stableford scoring system eliminates the potential of any player landing an embarrassing score when tallying up at the end of the game.
- Some golfers think that the Stableford system is more forgiving to high-handicap players.
- Players can have two or even three bad holes and remain in contention for the win with a few good follow-up holes.
Stableford Scoring Cons
- Some purists argue the Stableford scoring system takes the skill out of golf, turning it into a “see who can take the riskiest shot” instead of a calculated shot.
- Purists also argue that the Stableford system takes the thinking and skill work out of gameplay.
- Some players state that using the Stableford scoring system presents less of a challenge to golfers, hindering their development as a player.
- Some players state that the Stableford system places lower handicap players at a disadvantage to higher handicap players.
- Lower handicappers aren’t afforded the same shot and point buffer as higher handicappers.
Stableford Scoring FAQs
Q: What can I consider a good score with the Stableford scoring system?
A: When you’re playing 18-holes using the Stableford scoring system, you’re looking at making a score of 36-points at a minimum.
So, we can average that out to two points a hole for the duration of the course. However, most golfers at the amateur level think that any score over 32-points is usually in contention for winning the game. If you shoot over 40-points, you’re in the elite class of golfers with the Stableford scoring system.
Q: What is the best score to focus on with the Stableford scoring system?
A: According to the pros, it’s good to focus on getting as many birdies as possible when using the Stableford system. Typically, the classic scoring system in golf rewards players with the lowest score under par.
However, with the Stableford system, the player with the most points at the end is the winner. By focusing on birdies, you have the best chance of getting the highest score at the end of the round. You never know; you might sink the occasional eagle or two with your new risk-taking strategy.