Stableford Scoring: All You Need To Know | Eynesbury Golf

July 17, 2023

Our Stableford Scoring Guide!

When you’re out on the links, you’re probably playing by the rules of ‘stroke play’ – you count your total strokes at each hole, add them up, and whoever has the lowest total at the end wins. But did you know there are other fun ways to count your score?

In this guide, we’ll run through the keys to understanding Stableford scoring, an alternative scoring system that is a great way to inject some novelty into your next round of golf. So next time you’re out enjoying our beautiful Eynesbury Golf Course, we recommend giving Stableford scoring a try.

What Is Stableford Scoring?

Stroke play rewards low scores. If, at the end of each hole, your score is zero or less, you’re doing well. In Stableford scoring, you’re looking for a high score at the end of each hole. This doesn’t mean you want to bogey intentionally, though, because the winner is the player with the highest total at the end.

In Stableford Scoring, points are awarded depending on how many strokes over or under par you are, and there’s a ceiling on how low your score can be each hole. So even if you have a shocker, you won’t be punished with a terrible score. The result is that Stableford scoring doesn’t reward playing conservatively, so players feel encouraged to go for those miraculous shots, and games tend to be quicker. What is there to lose?

The History Of Stableford Scoring

Picture this: you’re humming along in your game, dropping strokes at every hole. Then, out of nowhere, a triple bogey or two blemishes your scorecard, and you’re ready to quit the whole round. This was what Frank Barney Gorton Stableford was trying to avoid when he introduced his scoring system back in 1898.

While it didn’t catch on until the 1930s, Stableford’s system found popularity because it’s less punitive than stroke play. Eventually, professional tours like The International in Colorado and the American Century Championship have used the scoring system.

How Does Stableford Scoring Work?

Stableford scoring awards points based on the number of strokes taken compared to the par score for each hole. It’s not dissimilar to stroke play, but a good score is positive, rather than negative. For example, a birdie (a score of one under par) would be awarded 3 points in Stableford golf scoring, while a bogey (one over par) gets one point. For two strokes or more over par, the score is zero. At the end of the round, the player with the highest score is the winner.

Here’s a handy list to explain Stableford scoring in golf:

Two or more strokes over par: 0 points
One stroke over: 1 point
Par: 2 points
One stroke under: 3 points
Two strokes under: 4 points
Three strokes under: 5 points
Four strokes under: 6 points

What Are The Handicap Adjustments In Stableford Scoring?

To make things a little fairer when playing with players of different skill levels, you can factor in a handicap. A player’s handicap is allocated against holes based on their stroke index (a good explainer here), which will adjust their score for that hole.

It can get a little complicated, but essentially, players with higher handicaps will benefit from added scores on more holes than players with lower handicaps. For example, a player with a handicap of 18 would receive an adjusted score on 18 holes, while a player with a handicap of 5 would receive adjusted scores on 5 holes. What that adjustment is will be determined by the hole’s score index.

What Is A Modified Stableford?

When used in professional matches, there is a tweaked version called ‘Modified Stableford’ that encourages more aggressive play. Its score system looks like this:

Two or more strokes over par: -3 points
One stroke over: -1 point
Par: 0 points
One stroke under: 2 points
Two strokes under: 5 points
Three strokes under: 8 points

What Are The Benefits Of Using Stableford Scoring?

There are plenty of reasons to use Stableford scoring. Here are a few of the biggest incentives:

  • It’s fun: Stableford offers regular golfers some novelty and excitement. Maybe you’ve mastered stroke play and are ready for a new challenge (we’d be happy to take some tips, in that case!) or are just keen on seeing golf in a different way.
  • There’s a safety net: This is why Frank Stableford invented the system in the first place. If you’re halfway through a round and suddenly spend six shots in the sand, it won’t ruin your whole game. There’s a minimum score per hole no matter how many shots you take, which means the average Stableford score for a tough hole is a lot better than in stroke play.
  • Positive play is rewarded: Because there’s a limit on self-inflicted damage, there’s an incentive to play ambitiously. Think you can make that 20ft putt? Want to chip over the lake? Go for it!
  • Everyone can play: Tough courses or friends with low handicaps can be difficult to play with if you’re not up to the level, but Stableford scoring is a great equaliser. Anyone can win on their day.

Tips and Strategies For Stableford Scoring

Playing well at Stableford Scoring golf requires most of the same technical skills as stroke play but there are still a few things to keep in mind if you want to do well:

  • Play with purpose: While you can still do yourself in with consistently bad shot selection, Stableford is a type of golf that rewards positive play. You have to be in it to win it, so try for those riskier shots.
  • Know your handicap adjustments: Some holes will adjust your score based on your handicap and the hole’s scoring index. Knowing which holes are friendly to you, score-wise, can allow you to take strategic risks.
  • Enjoy it: It’s always good to remember why we play golf: for the love of it. Stableford Scoring is a great variation on the classic game we all love, so take it with good humour and enjoy yourself out there.

Enjoy Your Friendly Matches At Eynesbury Golf!

Stableford Scoring can be a lot of fun for new players and professionals alike. Whether you’re looking for a new challenge, a casual round with friends or just keen to find out what all the fuss is about, why not come by for a game? At Eynesbury Golf Course, you’ll find 18 pristine holes surrounded by the gorgeous countryside.

Are you keen to pay us a visit or want to learn more about Stableford Scoring? Get in contact with our friendly team today.

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