Stableford is a scoring system in golf which, rather than counting the total number of strokes taken, involves scoring points based on the number of strokes taken at each hole.
The objective in Stableford, therefore, is to have the highest score – unlike traditional scoring methods.
What is the Stableford scoring system?
Points in Stableford are awarded as follows:
• 6 points – Four strokes under
• 5 points – Three strokes under
• 4 points – Two strokes under
• 3 points – One stroke under
• 2 points – Level par
• 1 point – One stroke over
• 0 points – Two strokes or more over
How are Stableford points scored?
The number of points awarded on each hole is determined by the number of strokes taken to par before being adjusted in relation to the player's handicap.
To do this, it involves taking a look at the stroke index on the scorecard.
For example, a player with a handicap of eight will be afforded an extra shot on the holes that have a stroke index of one to eight. A 24-handicapper, meanwhile, would get two extra strokes on holes with a stroke index of one to six and one extra shot on those with a stroke index of seven to 18.
So, if a hole is a par-5 with a stroke index of eight, our eight-handicapper would get one extra stroke (par-6) and our 24-handicapper would get two (par-7).
What is Modified Stableford?
The standard Stableford system can be altered to use different point levels, commonly referred to as Modified Stableford.
This method is used once per season on the PGA Tour in the Barracuda Championship, formerly known as the Reno-Tahoe Open.
In professional golf, points in Modified Stableford are awarded as follows:
• 8 points – Three strokes under
• 5 points – Two strokes under
• 2 points – One stroke under
• 0 points – Same number of strokes
• -1 point – One stroke over
• -3 points – Two strokes or more over
The history of Stableford
The Stableford system was the brainchild of Dr. Frank Barney Gorton Stableford (1870–1959) – hence the capitalised ‘S’ in the name – in order to stop golfers from giving up after a poor start to their rounds.
It was first used at Glamorganshire Golf Club, Penarth, Wales, in 1898, and first used in competition at Wallasey Golf Club in Wallasey, England, in 1932.
Stableford is especially popular in the UK and is the preferred scoring system for a lot of club competitions and social golf events. It is also known to speed up play as, once it is no longer possible to score a point, players do not have to complete the hole.