Stableford in Golf: How Does This Scoring System Work?

Stableford is a popular golf format that awards points based on how well you play each hole. Unlike stroke play or other formats, stableford focuses on comparing your score to par, with different point values assigned to each result. This scoring system allows golfers to take risks without worrying about their overall score being heavily affected by one bad hole. It’s a format that rewards good shots and provides a challenge while being enjoyable for golfers of all skill levels.

What Is a Stableford in Golf Featured Image

Key Takeaways

  • Stableford is a popular and exciting golf scoring format that awards points based on how well a player performs on each hole relative to par.
  • The scoring system encourages players to take calculated risks and focus on making birdies and pars to accumulate points, rather than worrying about their total number of strokes.
  • Understanding your handicap is essential in stableford, as it determines the number of strokes you receive per hole and affects your overall point accumulation.
  • Negative hole management is crucial to maintain consistency and avoid losing points on difficult holes, making every shot count toward your final score.
  • Stableford provides an even playing field for golfers of all skill levels, making it a popular choice for both casual and competitive golf games.


Golf is one of the most popular sports in the world. It’s a game that requires precision, skill, and patience. Golfers strive to play better and achieve lower scores every time they step onto the course.

To help them reach their goals, there are several formats available for golf games, each with its own set of rules and scoring systems. In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at one such format called stableford.

Stableford is a fabulous golf format that is becoming increasingly popular among golfers worldwide. It’s a scoring system that awards points based on how well you play each hole instead of counting your strokes like in stroke play or using nett score like in other formats explained below.

In the stableford scoring system, a player earns points based on how many strokes they take compared to par on each hole. Pars are assigned a value of two points, while birdies earn three points, and bogeys award one point.

In the stableford scoring system, a player earns points based on how many strokes they take compared to par on each hole. Pars are assigned a value of two points, while birdies earn three points, and bogeys award one point."

If you get more than two strokes over par, then there are no points given for your score on the hole. This format allows golfers to take risks without having to worry about their final score being overly affected by one bad round or stroke index on any given hole.

Instead of focusing solely on their total number of strokes taken throughout the round, which can be discouraging for club golfers who may not be able to achieve low scores, they can concentrate on maximizing their point total by taking calculated risks when appropriate. 

At the end of the round, all scores are tallied up to determine your total stableford points earned for that day’s play against your playing handicap, which is unique to every golfer depending upon his/her skill level as determined by a national handicap committee (Check out the USGA Handicap Committee Guide)

Stableford has become an increasingly popular format for both casual and competitive golf games because it rewards players for good shots rather than penalizing them for bad ones while still providing enough challenge to keep things interesting throughout the round. It’s a great way for golfers of all skill levels to enjoy the game and challenge themselves.

Check out this video below from bunkeredonline‘s Youtube channel:

Understanding the Basics of Stableford

When playing golf, the aim is to score as low as possible. However, in a stableford scoring system, the objective is to earn as many points as possible.

In this format of the game, players are not just rewarded for low scores; they can also be rewarded for consistent play on each hole. In stableford scoring, points-based scoring is used instead of counting strokes.

The player earns a specific number of points based on their performance on each hole relative to par. Par is usually set at the course’s average score per hole (typically 72 shots over 18 holes) and then adjusted based on the difficulty of each hole.

For instance, if a player scores one shot over par on a particular hole, they will receive one point. If they make par, they get two points; and if they shoot one under par (a birdie), they will get three points.

"In stableford scoring, points-based scoring is used instead of counting strokes. The player earns a specific number of points based on their performance on each hole relative to par. If a player scores one shot over par on a particular hole, they will receive one point. If they make par, they get two points; and if they shoot one under par (a birdie), they will get three points."

The system continues this way, with additional bonuses for eagles and albatrosses but also penalties for bogeys or worse. In a modified version of stableford scoring called the Modified Stableford Scoring System, higher scores earn more points than lower scores rather than just getting more or fewer points or zero in the case of missing the par score by more than 2 shots, which makes it different from traditional stableford scoring.

Stableford scoring can be an excellent format for non-professionals; players who may not necessarily have consistent play from hole to hole but still want to enjoy golf while keeping up with their handicap without having to worry about each stroke taken during gameplay. Stableford scoring is a unique golf format that rewards consistency over outright skill or luck alone.

Players earn points based on their performance relative to par while being penalized when failing to meet the standard set by the course rating system. This complete guide provides an in-depth understanding of how this exciting sport works and how average golfers can use it to improve their game.

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The Scoring Breakdown in Stableford

This is quite different from traditional golf formats. Instead of counting the total number of strokes taken by the golfer, this format assigns points based on their net score relative to par.

In essence, this means that players are rewarded for shooting better than par and penalized for shooting worse than par. In stableford scoring, each hole is assigned a point value based on its difficulty.

Generally, the harder holes are worth more points, with a typical range of anywhere from 1 to 4 points per hole. The exact breakdown of point values may vary depending on the course and tournament rules.

To earn points, golfers must score at least one stroke better than their handicap-adjusted par on a given hole. If they shoot exactly their adjusted par, which accounts for any handicap strokes they’re entitled to, they receive no points.

However, if they shoot one stroke better (a birdie) or more than one stroke better (an eagle), they receive extra points. Conversely, if a golfer shoots worse than their adjusted par on a hole, they lose points.

The exact penalty may vary depending on the course and tournament rules but typically ranges from minus 1 to minus 3 points per hole. Put simply – avoid making bogeys!

Overall scores in the stableford format are calculated by adding up all of the player’s earned points across all holes and then subtracting any penalty strokes incurred throughout the round. In contrast to traditional gross scores, where the lower score wins – in stableford format – more points equal higher scores—very simple!

While it can take some time to get used to this unique scoring system, once you do understand it – you will see how exciting it can be! It encourages risk-taking while also rewarding good shots that lead to birdies or even eagles!

Golfer assessing lie of golf ball before putting

The Role of Par in Stableford

Par plays a critical role in the stableford scoring system. In golf, par is the number of strokes players are expected to take to complete a hole or the entire course.

It is calculated based on the length and difficulty of each hole. In stableford, golfers earn points relative to par, which makes it important to understand how par affects scoring.

Firstly, understanding what a player’s score in relation to par means is critical. When a player gets a birdie on a hole with a par of 4, they score 2 points since they beat the expected score by 1 stroke (par-1). Similarly, if they score an eagle on a hole with a par of 5, they get 4 points since they beat the expected score by two strokes (par-2). 

By contrast, if someone scores a bogey (one over par) on that same par-4 hole mentioned above, he will receive zero points because he has not achieved his expected score.

"Par plays a critical role in the stableford scoring system. Golfers earn points relative to par, with birdies and eagles earning positive points and bogeys or worse resulting in zero or negative points. Players must be mindful of not scoring too far beyond par, as a double bogey or worse can quickly erode any gains made through birdies and eagles."

Another important aspect of how par influences stableford scoring is that it narrows down what scores can earn points and what scores can’t. Players who achieve below-par scores earn more points than those who shoot at or above par.

For example, netting three birdies during one round does not necessarily guarantee success; one could still end up with fewer total stableford points than another golfer who only made pars throughout their game but played more consistently. Further to this point, golfers must also be mindful of not scoring too far beyond those numbers.

A double bogey or worse will award negative stableford point(s) (-1 for example), which can quickly erode any gains made through birdies and eagles. Par serves as an essential tool for calculating handicaps in golf.

The handicap system uses both net and gross scores from rounds played over designated courses to determine each player’s level of play relative to par. That’s why it’s imperative for club golfers to maintain a handicap, which enables them to compete with others on fair terms.

Check out this video below from Handicap Golf‘s Youtube channel:

Modified Stableford: An Advanced Twist

A modified stableford format provides an advanced twist to traditional stableford, and it is gaining popularity among golfers. In a modified stableford competition, the player earns points for each hole based on their net score relative to par. The more points you accumulate, the higher your standing on the leaderboard.

Unlike the traditional stableford format, where a player gains or loses points based on their performance against par, modified stableford offers different point values per score: 

  • Eagle or albatross (8) 
  • Birdie (3) 
  • Par (0) 
  • Bogey (-1) 
  • Double Bogeys or worse (-3)

The goal when playing in this format is to score as many points as possible instead of trying to outscore your opponent stroke by stroke.

"A modified stableford format adds an exciting twist to traditional scoring, rewarding golfers based on net score relative to par. With different point values for each score, this format encourages aggressive play, aiming for birdies and eagles."

This format often leads to more aggressive play from golfers who aim for birdies and eagles rather than playing conservatively for pars. Players have the incentive to go for broke and hit shots they might not typically attempt under normal circumstances.

The Reno-Tahoe Open is a fabulous example of a tournament that uses a modified stableford scoring system. Since 2012, this event has been played exclusively in this format.

PGA Tour players like Gary Woodland have praised the modified stableford system because it allows them to take risks while still having a chance at winning despite having an off day with their putter. The modified stableford scoring system adds an interesting dimension to golfing competition and rewards players who take chances on difficult shots by offering extra point value for eagles and birdies.

It’s no wonder why so many amateurs and professionals alike are gravitating toward this innovative approach to tournament play. So next time you’re looking for something different in your game of golf, give modified stableford a try – you just might surprise yourself!

Golfer playing shot from golf tee

Stableford and Golf Handicaps

In golf, a handicap is a way of leveling the playing field for golfers of different skill levels. It is a system that estimates how many strokes an average player needs to complete a round of golf compared to someone with a lower or higher skill level.

The handicap system allows players with different abilities to compete against each other on an even playing field. Stableford scoring and handicaps go hand in hand because stableford is a points-based scoring system that takes into account the golfer’s net score – their gross score minus their handicap.

This means that your handicap can make a big difference in how many points you can earn in stableford. For example, if your handicap is 10, you get 1 extra stroke on each of the 10 hardest holes on the course.

To calculate your stableford score, you will use the modified version of your net score along with the stroke index for each hole on the course. The stroke index shows which holes are hardest to play based on their difficulty rating, and this index can be used to adjust how many extra strokes you get for your net score calculation based on your handicap.

"In stableford scoring, handicaps play a significant role, affecting the number of points a player can earn. Understanding the interaction between stableford scoring and handicaps can enhance success in both casual and professional tournaments like the Barracuda Championship, ensuring fair competition for all golfers."

Stableford and handicaps are not just for casual golfers either – professional golf tournaments like the Barracuda Championship also use stableford scoring with handicaps to determine who makes it into the weekend rounds. This format ensures that all players have an equal opportunity to succeed, regardless of their skill level.

Understanding how stableford scoring works in conjunction with handicaps can greatly improve your chances of success when playing this fabulous golf game format. By taking into account both gross and net scores, along with penalty strokes and stroke indices, it is possible for any golfer to enjoy this unique approach to scoring and take advantage of its benefits at any level they play at!

Golfer waiting to play shot on golf course

The Benefits of Playing Stableford

The benefits of playing stableford in golf are plentiful, especially for non-professionals. Unlike traditional stroke play, this popular scoring format allows players to focus on maximizing their point totals rather than obsessing over every single shot. It provides a motivating and engaging experience on the course, empowering golfers to recover from occasional mishaps and stay competitive throughout the game.

Below are a few benefits:

  • Stableford enables players to prioritize point accumulation over individual shot outcomes, promoting a more relaxed and enjoyable game.
  • The points-based scoring system keeps golfers engaged and motivated, fostering a competitive spirit throughout the round.
  • Taking risks and playing aggressively is encouraged in stableford, as higher point totals can be achieved by going for birdies and pars.
  • The net score system in stableford levels the playing field between golfers with different handicaps, allowing fair competition.
  • Consistency is rewarded in stableford, emphasizing the importance of steady play rather than relying solely on talent or luck.

Playing stableford offers golfers a fresh and exciting experience, where every shot contributes to their overall score. This format’s ability to balance skill levels and motivate players to take calculated risks makes it an appealing choice for golf enthusiasts of all levels. If you’re seeking a game that encourages consistency, embraces risk-taking, and brings out the best in every golfer, then stableford is undoubtedly worth a try on your next round.

Golfer playing shot with golf driver

Famous Tournaments Using Stableford

Stableford is a popular points-based scoring system that has become increasingly popular among golfers, especially in tournament play. While stroke play and traditional formats remain the most popular types of competition, many famous tournaments have integrated the stableford format into their events. In this section, we will explore some of the most prestigious tournaments that feature stableford scoring.

One of the most well-known tournaments that use stableford scoring is the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. This event is usually held in Scotland and features a unique setup where players are paired with celebrities from other fields, such as music and entertainment.

The tournament uses a combination of stroke play and stableford scoring to determine the scores, with stableford being used on the final day. With over £4 million in prize money at stake, players have extra motivation to perform well on every hole.

Another famous tournament that uses stableford scoring is the Portugal Masters. This European Tour event is held annually at the Victoria Course in Vilamoura and features one of the larger purses on tour, with €2 million up for grabs.

"From the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland to the Portugal Masters, and the Barracuda Championship in Nevada, various tournaments showcase the versatility of stableford. Modified versions like the Double Bogey Avoidance and the Modified stableford scoring system add further excitement to these events, catering to players of different skill levels."

The tournament uses a modified version of stableford called Double Bogey Avoidance, where players earn points for making pars or better while receiving no points for bogeys or worse. The Barracuda Championship is another major golf event that features a modified version of stableford called the Modified Stableford scoring system.

Instead of earning points for making par or better like in the traditional stableford format, players get positive points for birdies (2), eagles (5), and double eagles (8) while losing negative points (-1) for bogeys and (-3) for double bogeys or worse. This PGA Tour event takes place each summer at Tahoe Mountain Club’s Old Greenwood course near Lake Tahoe, Nevada.

There’s also been an amateur golf competition hosted by Golf Digest Japan since 2005, called the Golf Digest Cup. There are different categories according to the age, sex, and handicap level of the participants. A stableford scoring system is used in each category to determine the winners.

These are just a few examples of tournaments that feature stableford scoring. While it may not be as widely used as traditional stroke play, it has proven to be a fun and exciting way to add some variety to golf competitions while still allowing players of all skill levels to compete on an even playing field.

Check out this video below from Golf Mates‘s Youtube channel:

How to Excel in Stableford: Tips and Strategies

Stableford, a unique scoring system in golf, requires distinct approaches compared to traditional stroke play. To achieve success in this format, consider implementing the following tips and strategies that can elevate your performance and point accumulation on the course:

  • Focus on Consistency: In stableford, consistency is key. You need to make sure that you are scoring points on every hole to maximize your overall score. Unlike stroke play, where a few bad holes can ruin your entire round, stableford allows you to recover from those negative holes with birdies or pars on other holes.
  • Play aggressively: While consistency is important, it doesn’t mean you should play too conservatively. To score well in stableford, you need to take some risks and go for birdies whenever possible. Don’t be afraid to hit aggressive shots or try difficult putts if it means getting more points.
  • Know Your Handicap: Understanding your handicap is crucial when playing any golf competition, including a stableford. Knowing your handicap helps determine how many strokes you get per hole and how many points each score earns.
  • Practice negative hole management: In stableford, negative holes can be detrimental to your overall score. A negative hole is when you earn less than one point on a hole (such as a bogey or worse). To minimize the impact of negative holes on your game, practice negative hole management by playing conservatively when facing challenging shots.

By following these tips and strategies, you can improve your performance in stableford competitions significantly. Moreover, the modified stableford format encourages golfers to try for riskier shots since there won’t be as much punishment for missing the cut-off point of par, which will lead to only a loss of one point instead of two after a bogey or worse shot at regular stableford games.

Competition aside, club golfers must keep their focus sharp during games, with an emphasis on net scores over gross scores. It will enhance your chances of winning the game by playing on your strengths.

Furthermore, professional golfers can benefit from using stableford points to practice and improve their shot selection skills. By going for birdies and pars instead of always trying to make the perfect shot, golfers can learn how to take calculated risks that pay off in the long run.

Stableford is an exciting and unique scoring system that offers many benefits for non-professional and professional golfers alike. By following these tips and strategies, you can excel at this format of the game while improving your overall golfing skills.

Golfing assessing putt shot on green


In conclusion, stableford has been around for a long time and is still one of the best golf scoring formats available today. It’s a fabulous way to shake up your golf game and enjoy new challenges on the course.

Points-based scoring is becoming increasingly popular, but this one is still a classic. Compared to stroke play, stableford offers more opportunities for risk-taking, which can lead to a much more exciting sport than just trying to avoid bogeys or worse.

If you’re an average golfer looking for ways to improve your game, then the Stableford Scoring System could be the knowledge base you need. The beauty of stableford points is that even if you have several bad holes in a round, they won’t necessarily ruin your scorecard completely.

For example, let’s say you hit double-bogeys on two holes during your round; with stroke play scoring, that could essentially eliminate any chance of finishing well. With the stableford format, however, those double-bogeys might only cost you two points each instead of adding four strokes to your overall score.

Even though it has been around for so long, it maintains its popularity among club golfers worldwide. It’s also used in some famous tournaments, like the European Tour, where it has proven its worthiness as a fair system that challenges players while also providing them with some cushion for mistakes.

Give it a try! You might find that it adds an element of fun and unpredictability to your game that was previously missing.

The modified version can deliver even more excitement if the standard isn’t enough – so don’t be afraid to mix things up if this format works well for you. If you’re looking for an alternative method with lots of potential benefits over traditional formats, then this is definitely worth exploring further!


In Stableford, you earn points based on your performance relative to par on each hole. Pars score 2 points, birdies 3, and bogeys 1. If you’re more than 2 strokes over par, no points are awarded for that hole.

To play Stableford, golfers aim to earn as many points as possible by scoring better than par on each hole. Points are awarded based on the player’s net score relative to the hole’s difficulty.

To calculate your Stableford handicap, determine your course handicap, which is based on your regular handicap and the course’s slope rating. Your Stableford handicap helps level the playing field for competition.

Stableford awards points based on your net score compared to par. Making birdies and pars earns positive points, while bogeys or worse result in negative points. The goal is to accumulate the highest point total.

In stroke play, golfers count total strokes over 18 holes. Stableford, on the other hand, rewards points for good play relative to par, allowing for risk-taking without ruining the entire round based on a few bad holes.

People play Stableford because it offers a more forgiving scoring system that allows for risk-taking and rewards consistency. It provides an engaging and motivating experience on the course, appealing to golfers of all skill levels.

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