Stableford is a format that every golfer will encounter at some time in competition play. Points are awarded according to the number of strokes made, the player’s handicap and the index or difficulty rating of each hole. Winners have the highest number of points, not the lowest number of strokes.
The Stableford System was developed by Dr. Frank Barney Gorton Stableford (1870–1959), to deter golfers from giving up on their round after a few bad holes. It was first used at Wallasey Golf Club in England in 1932. According to the Rules of Golf, the Committee for the Event has responsibility to calculate the points according to the number of strokes declared (Rule 33.5). However worldwide, players record both their strokes and their Stableford points; this is accepted everywhere as ‘best practice’. Some regular golfers say they don’t know how to score. Every golfer needs to learn and get into the habit! Stableford allows golfers to have one or two horror holes and still be in the hunt. It is also intended to speed up play. When too many strokes are taken to earn any points (maximum 3 over par) a golfer picks up the ball and moves on. No wasted time endlessly trying to clear a water hazard or escape an impossible bunker. Continuing play when points cannot be scored is frowned upon and inconsiderate to other players.
Scorecards show the index or the difficulty rating of each hole. Index 1 is rated as the hardest hole, through to index 18 as the easiest. Another essential ingredient is your handicap. We are assuming that you have a real handicap that is up to date.
What About the ‘SLOPE’ Rating?
No matter how easy or difficult a course is, the best golfers will often score close to par. However the scores of less-proficient golfers are more strongly affected by the difficulty of a golf course. There is an accepted system to adjust handicaps according to the difficulty of the golf course, known as the Slope or Course Rating. For the sake of simplicity, we’ve chosen to ignore Slope adjustments until another day! In a standard Stroke event, a Net score is calculated by deducting the handicap from the strokes taken at the end of the round. In Stableford, the handicap is applied at each hole to calculate Stableford points.
How many extra strokes are allowed because of the golfer’s handicap and hole difficulty?
A zero handicap means no extra strokes are allowed. Handicaps between 1 and 18 receive one extra stroke on the hardest holes according to the handicap. For example, handicap 2 means one extra stroke on 2 holes (index 1 & 2); handicap 16 means one extra stroke on 16 holes (index 1 -16). Handicap 18 means one extra stroke on every hole. Handicaps over 18 get at least one extra stroke on every hole, but two extra strokes on the hardest holes. Just deduct 18 from your handicap to find out how many holes have two extra strokes. For example, handicap 19 means two extra strokes on one hole; index 1. Handicap 25 means two extra strokes on 7 holes (index 1 – 7); handicap 32 means two extra strokes on 14 holes (index 1 – 14). Handicap 36 means two extra strokes on every hole.
Prepare and Make It Easy;
Mark the Scorecard Before You Start The Round One way is to mark a slash ( / ) through the hole index number for the holes that you receive 1 extra stroke and 2 slashes ( // or X ) for 2 extra strokes. When you add the number of extra strokes to the par of the hole, this becomes your ‘handicapped par’, worth 2 points. Alternatively just mark the holes where the strokes are different from the rest; you’ll soon work out your own marking system.
This Table Shows the Stableford Points according to strokes made, extra strokes received & par of the hole.
*Just remember!……making your handicapped PAR earns 2 points; then increase or reduce your points from that baseline. After each hole, check your score with the marker for both the strokes made as well as the points scored. You’d say something like “five and two”, meaning five strokes and two points. Record the strokes made as well as the points for both you and your marker. However if no points are scored, just ‘scrub’ the score ( ), even if you finish the hole don’t record the number of strokes. Record the scores away from the green but before leaving the next tee box. Scoring should not delay the game. If you are teeing off first, perhaps after your tee shot. When the round is finished, only add the number of Stableford points and confirm the total with the marker before signing both cards. It’s not hard and will soon become automatic. The scoring table will appreciate your assistance; it’s confirmation of the scores for everyone.
Playing to your handicap means 36 points for 18 holes, but don’t expect to be a winner. If you get the points wrong you can’t be penalised, just talk with the Match Committee to sort it out. Get into the habit and join real golfers who understand Stableford scoring; then always Do It Yourself!