Stableford Scoring System (How Does It Work?)

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Did you know that stroke play, match play, best ball and scramble are not the only formats golfers can play? In fact, if you are an avid golfer, you may be interested in getting involved in some formats that are entirely different.

One of the most fun is the Stableford scoring system.

I’ll show you what Stableford is, how to keep track of your score and a few tips for winning your next Stableford event.

How Does the Stableford Scoring System Work?

How does stableford work?

Stableford scoring is a point system. Instead of counting your total number of strokes for a round of golf, you will convert your score on each hole into Stableford points.

Stableford points correlate to how well you play. The better you play, the more points you get.

The number of points assigned to each hole in a Stableford event is up to the tournament committee. A common or standard Stableford point value would be:

  • Double Eagle (Albatross): 5 points
  • Eagle: 4 points
  • Birdie: 3 points
  • Par: 2 points
  • Bogey: 1 point
  • Double Bogey: 0 points

What Is A Modified Stableford?

A modified Stableford will take into consideration the strength of the field and assign the point values accordingly. A modified Stableford can be a good option for golfers with higher handicaps. In this format, a bogey can be worth two points if the tournament committee decides that suits the needs of the field.

With a modified Stableford you may also run into a situation where bogeys and double bogeys count as negative points. This is what we see with PGA Tour players and fields with low handicap players.

To read more about the Stableford format, check out rule 21 in the USGA rule book.

Net Versus Gross Stableford

Net vs Gross Stableford

A Stableford format can be gross or net. The net scores incorporate a player’s course handicap into this process.

Let’s say you are a 15 handicap and you are playing a Stableford event. This means on the 15 hardest holes on the course, you are going to get a stroke. (Keep in mind handicaps are often adjusted to 95% for Stableford events)

At the end of your hole, record your gross score and your adjusted score and calculate the points accordingly.

This is one of those scoring formats where your scorecard is going to be loaded with numbers by the end of the round.

One of the best benefits of a Stableford format is the ability to pick up if you are not going to make double bogey or better. If you are no longer going to be able to make a point for that hole, pick up your golf ball and move on.

Can Stableford be Played as A Team Event?

A Stableford tournament can be played as a team event where only the best score is counted on each hole. The Stableford team event will usually include both a gross and net winner and have divisions based on players’ handicaps.

How Do You Calculate Stableford Points?

Scoring Stableford Points

To calculate, you need to look at the scoring provided to you at the start of the event. Play each hole as you normally would, and at the end, use the Stableford system to determine the number of points you get.

How To Play Well In A Stableford Tournament?

  • Analyze the format closely to see if you are punished for bad holes. If you are not, you can play more aggressively than in traditional stroke play. 
  • Approach shots to the green should be more aggressive.
  • Look at the handicap rating for each hole. Find the easiest holes and plan to go low on those holes.
  • Keep your mindset positive, even if you have a bad hole. It can be easier to recover in a Stableford format than in stroke play.

How is Stableford different than stroke play?

A Stableford tournament still requires you to play a standard stroke-play round. However, at the end of every hole, your scores are converted into Stableford points.

Does Stableford count towards handicap?

Since you are playing a standard round of golf (i.e., not a scramble, alternate shot, etc.), you can post your round. Post your traditional score, not the adjusted Stableford scoring.

What is a good Stableford score?

If you follow the traditional Stableford format, where par is worth two points, a score of 36 would be a solid round of golf. A good score for a Stableford round will be largely dependent on a player’s handicap. However, scores in the 25 and up range are quite good.

Final Thoughts

Sometimes, it’s good to challenge yourself and think a bit outside the box when on the golf course. The Stableford is a classic golf format that has been around since 1898; get out there and see if this format helps you be more aggressive than the traditional stroke play.

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