Stableford Scoring System in Golf

Golf is a sport known for its complexity, precision, and unique scoring systems. One of these scoring systems is the Stableford system, which differs from traditional stroke play. In this blog post, we will delve into the intricacies of the Stableford scoring system in golf, exploring how it works, its advantages, and how it can add excitement to the game.

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What is Stableford Scoring?

Stableford scoring is an alternative method of scoring in golf that focuses on points rather than counting the total number of strokes taken to complete a round. It was invented by Dr. Frank Stableford in 1931 as a way to make the game more enjoyable for golfers of varying skill levels. Unlike stroke play, where the goal is to complete the course in the fewest strokes possible, Stableford rewards golfers for achieving certain scores on each hole.

How Does Stableford Scoring Work?

In the Stableford scoring system, golfers earn points on each hole based on their performance relative to a predetermined fixed score, typically set as par. Here’s how it works:

  1. Scoring Relative to Par: Each hole on the golf course has a predetermined par score, which represents the number of strokes an expert golfer should take to complete that hole. For example, a par-3 hole should ideally be completed in three strokes.
  2. Point Allocation: Golfers earn points on each hole based on their performance relative to par. The common point system looks like this:
    • 2 points: One stroke better than par (birdie)
    • 1 point: Equal to par (par)
    • 0 points: One stroke worse than par (bogey)
    • -1 point: Two strokes worse than par (double bogey or worse)
  3. Total Points: After completing all the holes, golfers add up their points to get their final Stableford score for the round.

Advantages of Stableford Scoring

Stableford scoring offers several advantages, which is why it’s a popular choice for various golf events and tournaments:

  1. Less Frustration: In stroke play, a few bad holes can ruin an entire round. Stableford allows golfers to recover from mistakes and stay engaged in the game, reducing frustration.
  2. Faster Play: Golfers can pick up their ball if they have no chance of earning points on a hole, which speeds up the pace of play.
  3. Suitable for All Skill Levels: Stableford is inclusive and suitable for golfers of all skill levels. Beginners can enjoy the game alongside more experienced players without feeling overwhelmed by their stroke count.

Strategy in Stableford Scoring

While Stableford scoring is forgiving, it also requires strategic thinking. Here are some tips for playing effectively under this scoring system:

  1. Risk Management: Golfers must decide when to take risks to earn more points and when to play conservatively to avoid losing points.
  2. Know Your Handicap: Understanding your handicap is crucial in Stableford scoring, as it helps determine how many strokes you receive on each hole.
  3. Focus on Par: Consistently achieving par or better is key to earning points. Concentrate on your short game and putting, as they play a significant role in Stableford scoring.

Variations and Modifications

While the standard Stableford scoring system is widely used, there are some variations and modifications that golfers and tournament organizers can implement to tailor the scoring to specific situations or preferences. Here are a few examples:

  1. Modified Stableford: In this version, the point system is adjusted to make it more challenging. For example, golfers might earn 3 points for a birdie, 2 points for par, 1 point for a bogey, and 0 points for anything worse. This rewards exceptional play and penalizes mistakes more heavily.
  2. Team Stableford: Instead of an individual competition, Stableford can be played as a team event. Each team member’s points are combined to determine the team score. This fosters camaraderie and teamwork among golfers.
  3. Handicap Adjustments: To level the playing field in a mixed-skill group, golfers might receive additional strokes based on their handicap. This ensures that players of varying skill levels can compete on an equal footing.

Popular Tournaments Using Stableford Scoring

Stableford scoring is not only a fun way to play golf casually but is also used in various tournaments and events around the world. Some of the most notable ones include:

  1. The International: A PGA Tour event formerly held in Castle Rock, Colorado, used the Modified Stableford scoring system. It attracted top professional golfers and was known for its unique format.
  2. Alfred Dunhill Links Championship: This European Tour event uses the Stableford scoring system. It is played on three different golf courses in Scotland and features professional golfers paired with celebrities and amateurs.
  3. Amateur Tournaments: Many amateur golf tournaments use Stableford scoring to accommodate a wide range of skill levels and provide an enjoyable experience for all participants.

Stableford Scoring Points

PointsScore Relative to Par
02 or more over
11 over
2Equal to Par
31 under
42 under
53 under
64 under
75 under
86 under
97 or more under

Handicap Adjustments

HandicapAdjusted Points
0As Scored

Example Scoring

HolePlayer ScoreParScore Relative to ParPoints
2541 over1
333Equal to Par2
4451 under3
5541 over1
633Equal to Par2

Points Distribution

Player ScorePoints Awarded
Double Bogey0

Total Points Calculation

PlayerHandicapGross ScoreAdjusted ScoreStableford Points


The Stableford scoring system adds an exciting and dynamic element to the game of golf. It encourages golfers to focus on consistent play, strategy, and decision-making. Whether you’re a seasoned golfer or a beginner, trying out Stableford scoring can be a refreshing change of pace and an excellent way to enjoy the sport with friends or in a tournament setting. So, the next time you’re on the golf course, consider giving the Stableford system a shot and experience golf from a different perspective.

Stableford Scoring System in Golf


  • Ryan Spino

    Ryan Spino, our Executive Editor since January 2022, has been instrumental in shaping The Golf Mine. His vision, backed by a Golf Management MBA and extensive editorial expertise, has expanded our coverage, ensuring that every article upholds our commitment to quality and accuracy in the golfing realm.

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