What is Stableford in Golf? A Friendly Guide to the Scoring System




what is stableford in golf

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Golf is a game of skill, strategy, and precision. To keep track of your progress on the course, there are different scoring methods you can use. One such method is the Stableford scoring system, which is becoming more and more popular among golfers. But what is Stableford in golf, and how does it work?

The Stableford scoring system is a points-based method of scoring in golf. Unlike traditional stroke play, where the winner is the player with the lowest score, Stableford rewards players for making a good score on each individual hole.

Dr. Frank Stableford first introduced it in 1932 with the intention of developing a more enjoyable and forgiving scoring system for amateur golfers.

Key Takeaways:

  • The Stableford scoring system is a points-based method of scoring in golf.
  • It rewards players for making good scores on each individual hole.
  • The system was developed to create a more enjoyable and forgiving scoring method for amateur golfers.

What Is Stableford in Golf

If you are looking for an exciting and challenging way to score golf games, the Stableford scoring system may be the perfect option. Due to its capacity to level the playing field and promote aggressive play, Dr. Frank Barney Gorton Stableford developed this alternative scoring system in 1932, which has gained popularity in recent years.

In this section, we will dive deeper into the concept of Stableford in golf, discussing why it was developed, how it differs from other scoring methods, and how it encourages strategic thinking.

While traditional stroke play awards points based on the total number of strokes taken to complete a round, Stableford scoring is based on points earned for the number of strokes taken relative to a specific hole’s par. In other words, you score points for how well you play each hole, not how many strokes it takes to finish the entire course. The objective is to score the most points over the course of the game.

The beauty of the Stableford system is that it rewards aggressive play and strategic risk-taking. Each hole is assigned a point value based on its difficulty, typically ranging from one to five points. The scores for each hole are then added together to determine the player’s total point score. This encourages players to take risks and go for the lower-scoring holes, rather than playing conservatively and taking fewer risks.

Stableford scoring is not only exciting for players but also levels the playing field. It allows golfers of different skill levels to compete against each other fairly and equally. The handicap system adjusts each player’s score based on their ability, ensuring that everyone has an equal chance of winning.

Understanding the Stableford point system:

ScoreStableford Points
Double Eagle (3 under par)8 points
Eagle (2 under par)5 points
Birdie (1 under par)2 points
Par0 points
Bogey (1 over par)1 point
Double Bogey or more (2 or more over par)0 points

As you can see from the chart above, golfers score points based on their performance compared to par. The more under par you are, the more points you score. Conversely, if you are over par, you earn fewer or no points on that hole.

In conclusion, the Stableford scoring system is a fun and fair way to score golf games. It rewards players for aggressive play and levels the playing field for golfers of different skill levels. By understanding how the point system works, you’ll have a better shot at winning your next Stableford game.

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How Does Stableford Work in Golf?

The Stableford scoring system in golf is designed to keep the game exciting and competitive for players of all skill levels. Instead of counting the total number of strokes taken by each player, the Stableford system allocates points based on the player’s score relative to a designated standard. This format allows players to focus on playing their best on each hole rather than worrying about the number of strokes they take.

To understand how Stableford works, let’s look at the steps involved:

  1. First, determine the par value for each hole. Par is the number of strokes an expert golfer is expected to take to complete the hole. For example, a par-3 hole would have a par value of 3.
  2. Next, determine the player’s handicap. A handicap is a measure of a player’s skill level, and it is used to adjust their score based on how difficult the course is. A higher handicap means the player is considered less skilled and will receive more strokes during the round.
  3. During the round, the player earns points based on their score on each hole. The points are awarded as follows:
2 strokes under par or better5 points
1 stroke under par4 points
Equal to par3 points
1 stroke over par2 points
2 strokes over par or more1 point
No score (conceded hole)0 points
More than two strokes over par (or “net double bogey”)-1 point

The player’s score on each hole is then adjusted based on their handicap. To do this, add the player’s handicap to the par value of each hole. For example, if the player’s handicap is 12 and they are playing a par-4 hole, their adjusted score for that hole would be 4 + 1 (for the additional stroke) + 1 (for the additional handicap stroke) = 6.

Once the adjusted score is determined, you can calculate the player’s Stableford points for that hole based on the table above.

At the end of the round, the player’s Stableford points for each hole are added up to determine their total score for the round.

Using the Stableford system rewards aggressive play and encourages players to take risks when appropriate. Rather than lamenting a bad hole, players can stay focused on earning points for every stroke they take. With this scoring system, golfers of different skill levels can compete on an even playing field, making for a more exciting and enjoyable round of golf.

The Stableford Scoring System and Handicaps

The Stableford scoring system is a handicap-based scoring method in golf that rewards players for achieving a certain score on each hole relative to par. Because it involves handicaps, it’s essential to understand how the system works and how it incorporates them into the scoring process.

When you play a round of golf using the Stableford format, your handicap is factored into your score. The handicap adjustment is based on the Course Rating and Slope Rating of the course you’re playing on. These ratings are used to calculate the Course Handicap, which is then used to determine the number of strokes you can deduct from your gross score.

For example, if a player has a Course Handicap of 10, they can deduct 10 strokes from their gross score to calculate their net score. In a Stableford competition, the player’s net score is then used to determine the number of points they earn on each hole.

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Double Bogey or Worse0 Points
Bogey1 Point
Par2 Points
Birdie3 Points
Eagle4 Points
Double Eagle or Better5 Points

As shown in the table above, points are awarded based on the player’s net score on each hole relative to par. Unlike stroke play, where the player with the lowest score wins, the winner of a Stableford competition is the player with the highest number of points.

The handicap system in Stableford scoring allows players of different skill levels to compete on a level playing field. By deducting strokes from a player’s gross score, it takes into account the player’s ability and makes it possible for them to compete against players of higher skill levels.

Overall, the Stableford scoring system is an excellent way to make golf more accessible and enjoyable for players of all skill levels. By factoring in handicaps and rewarding aggressive play, it encourages strategic decision-making and makes it easier to compare scores between players.

The Benefits of Stableford Format in Golf

Playing golf with the Stableford scoring system can be a refreshing change from traditional stroke play. Here are some reasons why:

  • It promotes strategic decision-making: Unlike in stroke play, where one bad hole can ruin your entire round, Stableford encourages you to focus on each individual shot and make decisions based on the risk-reward ratio. The format rewards aggressive play, but also allows you to take a safer approach if needed.
  • It reduces pressure on players: Because you are playing against a points system rather than trying to beat the other players’ scores, there is less pressure to perform. This can lead to a more enjoyable and relaxed round of golf.
  • It allows for easier and fairer scoring comparisons: In stroke play, players with higher handicaps often struggle to keep up with low-handicap players. However, with the Stableford format, players of all skill levels can compete on an equal footing. Each player’s score is adjusted according to their handicap, resulting in a fairer and more level playing field.

Overall, the Stableford scoring system is a great way to add variety and excitement to your game of golf. It provides a more inclusive and engaging approach to scoring, and can help you develop a more strategic and calculated mindset on the course.

Calculating Stableford Points

Calculating Stableford points involves translating a player’s score on each hole into a certain number of points, based on that hole’s difficulty. The player’s total points are then tallied at the end of the round to determine their overall Stableford score. Here’s how the process works:

  1. Determine the points allocated for each score: In Stableford, points are awarded based on the player’s score on each hole compared to par. The points are typically allocated as follows:
Double Bogey or Worse0 Points
Bogey1 Point
Par2 Points
Birdie3 Points
Eagle4 Points
Double Eagle or Better5 Points
  1. Calculate the player’s net score: To account for handicaps, the player’s net score is used in Stableford. This is calculated by subtracting the player’s handicap from their gross score on each hole.
  2. Determine the player’s Stableford points: Once the player’s net score has been calculated, the appropriate number of points is allocated based on the table above. For example, if a player scores a bogey on a hole and their handicap is 18, their net score would be a par (2) and they would earn 1 Stableford point for that hole.
  3. Calculate the player’s total Stableford points: Once all the points for each hole have been calculated, the player’s total Stableford points are tallied. The player with the most points at the end of the round is the winner.
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It’s worth noting that the exact allocation of points for each score may vary depending on the specific Stableford format being used. Some formats may award more or fewer points for certain scores, or adjust the allocation based on the difficulty of the hole. However, the basic principles outlined above will apply to most versions of the game.

Stableford vs Stroke Play: Which is Better?

When it comes to golf scoring, there are two main formats: the Stableford scoring system and stroke play. While both have their merits, they differ significantly in terms of approach and strategy. Here’s a closer look at the pros and cons of each, so you can decide which one suits you best.


The Stableford scoring system is often preferred by golfers who want a more relaxed and social round. You earn points based on your score relative to par on each hole. The number of points you earn per hole depends on your handicap, with higher handicappers receiving more points. The total points earned are then compared to a predetermined scorecard to determine the winner.

One advantage of Stableford is that it reduces the pressure on players to achieve a certain score on each hole. With a maximum score of net double bogey (two strokes over par), golfers can take risks and try for more challenging shots, without fear of blowing up their score. Additionally, the system promotes strategic decision-making, as players must weigh the risk of going for a challenging shot versus playing it safe and earning fewer points.

Stroke Play

Stroke play is the most common format in competitive golf. In this format, the winner is determined by the lowest overall number of strokes taken. Each shot counts towards the total score, and there is no handicap adjustment. This means that the player with the lowest score wins.

One advantage of stroke play is that it rewards consistency and accuracy. Players must focus on every shot, as each one counts towards their final score. Additionally, stroke play provides a clear-cut winner, with no need for complicated point systems or scorecards. However, stroke play can also be more challenging and pressure-filled, as every shot can have a significant impact on the final outcome.

In conclusion, the choice between Stableford and stroke play ultimately comes down to personal preference. If you want a more relaxed and enjoyable round of golf, with less pressure on each shot, then Stableford is the way to go. However, if you’re looking for a challenging, competitive experience, then stroke play may be the better option for you. Whatever you choose, both scoring systems offer unique benefits, and can help you improve your game and have fun on the course.


Congratulations! You now have a solid understanding of the Stableford scoring system in golf. By using this format, you can enjoy a fair and strategic game that encourages risk-taking and reduces stress.

If you’re new to Stableford, don’t worry it’s easy to learn and apply. Just remember to allocate points for each score based on your handicap and the par of the hole, and add them up at the end of the round to get your final Stableford points.

One of the best things about Stableford is that it allows you to enjoy the game regardless of your skill level. Even if you’re a beginner or have a high handicap, you can still earn points and compete against other players based on a fair basis.

Try Stableford next time you play golf

So, go ahead and give the Stableford scoring system a try. You might be surprised at how much fun and rewarding it can be. Whether you’re playing in a tournament or just having a casual round with friends, this format will give you a new perspective on the game and help you improve your skills.

Remember, golf is not only about winning or losing – it’s also about having fun and enjoying the experience. And with Stableford, you can do both. So, go out there and have a blast!

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