Stableford Scoring: Everything You Should Know

The Stableford is not like the customary scoring in the game of golf and this makes it loads of fun for players. The Stableford scoring system is used in golf and it involves scoring points based on the number of strokes taken at every hole and does not involve counting the number of strokes in totality. Unlike the traditional scoring techniques, the objective of Stableford is to attain the highest score.

Although Stableford is not as popular compared to Match Play, it is similarly fun. Unlike customary stroke play, the main goal of this technique is to not get the lowest score possible. With Stableford, the objective is to have the highest score, however, this does not mean that the objective is card doubles and triples. Instead, Stableford is a modified scoring system that gives scores to bogeys, pars, eagles, birdies, and many more.

The Stableford is used on the PGA Tour alongside other scoring techniques like stroke and match. This format inspires aggressive play that makes it more fun for players and fans. This is why in most professional games, you will not see golfers constantly hitting for or laying up the middle of the green. Instead, they will be continuously attacking and bombing flagsticks to make more eagles and birdies. Read on to learn more about the Stableford scoring system.

The History of the Stableford Scoring System

The Stableford scoring system was developed by Dr. Frank Barney Gorton in the late 1800s. This golf scoring system has been in use for more than a century.  Since he had the best interest of the average golfers in mind, Dr. Frank Barney Gorton is sometimes referred to as the ‘Patron Saint of Club Golfers.’

Dr. Gorton discovered that many golfers were giving up pretty quickly whenever they had bad starts. As a result, he created the systems to help keep golfers going so that they can finish the round of golf. This means that even if you encounter a disaster hole, it will not spoil all the fun.


The Stableford scoring system of play was first used in a tournament play in England at Wallasey Golf in 1932. Stableford became particularly popular in the UK and Ireland because these countries tend to have higher wind speeds compared to the average US tornado. Owing to the brutal weather conditions, golfers may experience one or two scores that are in the stratosphere.

Stableford rules are ideal for keeping golf tournaments competitive since the player will still be in the game even if the team or player has a few blow-up holes. Over the years, the Stableford has become a preferred scoring system for many social golf events and club competitions. Today, this scoring system has become widely popular for a lot of professional golf tournaments around the world.

How to Use Stableford Scoring

To compute the number of Stableford points scored, you should first determine the shots awarded on a specified hole on the golf course. Awarded shots refer to the number of additional strokes for every hole that you are given based on your handicap.


For an 18 handicap golfer, then you will naturally get awarded one extra stroke per hole. However, for 24 handicap golfers, you can receive one extra stroke per hole and one extra stroke on the 6 most challenging holes depending on their stroke index. Once you know the number of shots or strokes you have been awarded, you can quickly convert them into points.

Read next: What Is A Scratch Golfer

How the Stableford Scoring System Works

For this scoring system, the goal is to score the most points. Each score to par represents a set of points that are prearranged by the group. This helps to incentivize risk-taking since the rewards will be greater and the penalty for big numbers is not huge. Here is how this classic system is broken down:

  • Four Strokes under-translates to 6 points
  • Three strokes under-5 points
  • Two strokes under or eagle: 4 Points
  • One stroke under or Birdie-3 points
  • Even par-2 points
  • Two strokes over-zero points

To have the highest score at the end of a round of golf, you need to make as many pars and birdies as possible. In the customary format, there are no negative holes and this means that you can pick up anything after a double. You do not have to card the snowman on a par 4 any longer. There is also a modified version of the Stableford scoring system that you can also try out.

The Modified Stableford


The Stableford system can also be changed to use different point levels, what is commonly known as a Modified Stableford system. The objective of the modified Stableford can be to make the game easier or harder depending on the type of golfers. The modified version is a maximum scoring system. For example, the scoring table below was used in professional golfing on a PGA Tour at the Barracuda Championships in July, 2019.

  • Albatross or 3 strokes under par-8 points
  • Eagle or 2 strokes under par-5 points
  • Birdie or 1 stroke under par-2 Points
  • Par-O points
  • Bogey or 1 stroke over par- negative 1
  • Worse, Double bogey or 2 strokes or more over par equals -3

The modified scoring scale encourages golfers to engage in aggressive play since the prize for scoring under part is usually higher compared to the penalty awarded for scoring over par. The maximum score is 2 strokes over par and once the player has made the shot and is one stroke above the par, then he/she can concede, take a double bogey, pick up the best golf ball, and proceed to the next hole without getting a penalty.

Stableford Scoring Rules for 28 Handicap

The scoring principle for players with handicap 28 is opposite to the stroke play. After the round ends, the player who has amassed the highest points is the winner. This is not like stroke play where wins are awarded for the lowest score. When checking the scorecard of the golf course you are playing, you will notice that besides every hole there is the stroke index that is numbered based on the degree of difficulty.

Stroke 1 is renowned as the hardest hole as it goes upwards, 18 is the easiest hole. For most people, this is a challenge because some players tend to be suited to specific holes. To ensure that the Stableford handicap works, the holes should be ranked. A 28 handicap player will get a shot on each hole and a further shot on the stroke index 1 to 10. As a result, players that have this handicap get 2 points even if they have boogies at a harder hole on the course.

Stableford Scoring FAQs

What is the best Stableford Strategy?

For the novices in golf, Stableford scoring is a handicap competition where the points are awarded based on the score that is achieved for every hole. In the customary Stableford scoring, once the payer is more than one stroke over a fixed score, they cannot earn points on the hole anymore. In addition, they can pick up their golf ball if they choose to. With the modified Stableford system that rewards lower scores, aggressive play is highly inspired.

Why You Should Use Stableford Scoring System?

Although the Stableford scoring system was invented over a century ago, it is still being used in golfing today. By using the Standard Stableford or Modified Stableford scoring once in a while, you can train golfers to seek out lower scores and never fear the higher scores. Conservative play usually takes over when golfers become more focused on avoiding big numbers. However, with damage being restricted under the Stableford scoring system, and success is even more rewarded with Modified Stableford scoring, players may learn to play with a novel and aggressive mindset.

How Can You Score Stableford Points in Golf?

For you to score more Stableford points, you must make more pars, eagles, and birdies. These translate to the highest number of points to assist you in scoring the most points. Unless you are using a modified Stableford scoring, where worse and bogeys are penalized, then the objective should be playing aggressively. This is particularly true on every par 5 and a derivable par 4.

Every golfer should give him/herself as many opportunities as possible to make lots of birdies as you can easily score most of them. However, a par is a great score to and you never know whether an eagle putt will fall in to give you a huge win.

How do I Score Points in a Round of Golf

Generally, golf tends to reward players who shoot the lowest score and not the most points. Conversely, for the Stableford scoring system, it is the players that have the highest points that win.  In order to score more points in the Stableford system, you must attain the highest number of birdies, eagles, and pars and have fewer worse, bogeys, and doubles. When it comes to golf, you should make birdies and par but take more risks so that you can achieve a higher total score.

Read next: How To Measure Golf Club Length

Final Thoughts

Stableford golf scoring system has been in existence for over a century. However, this system is still one of the best and fun ways of enjoying yourself while on the golf course. Unfortunately, this scoring format is not used frequently in the US like it is utilized in the UK. You can still use the Stableford scoring system to have a fun day golfing with your buddies or you can find a social outing or tournament that runs this kind of format.

This will help you break up a normal weekend routine and will also speed up play and reduce the number of stokes that are taken. Since players cannot score worse than a double bogey on every hole with this system, then they can pick up rather than let a meltdown happen. This makes this style great for beginner golf players as well.

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