Of all the golf tournaments available to play, only stroke play, match play, and the Stableford scoring system are used on the PGA Tour. Stableford formats are fun, and they can work in both net and gross type tournaments and events.

If you are thinking of hosting an event and want to make the competition a bit more fun, a Stableford scoring system could work quite well. Once you see how this system works and figure out the number of points allotted on each hole, you will be a Stableford expert.

How does stableford scoring work?

image of stableford scoring system - AEC Info

Stableford is essentially a point scoring system used to play golf. Instead of simply considering yourself even par when a hole is scored at par, you will get a certain number of points for the hole you have just played. A Stableford system can be worked with both gross and net scoring, which can certainly impact the number of points awarded.

Here are the things that you need to know to properly score a Stableford.

Scoring scale

There is a traditional scoring scale for Stableford formats, and then there is a modified version. The traditional scoring scale is as follows.

  • Three strokes under par: 5 Points
  • Two strokes under par: 4 Points
  • One stroke under par: 3 Points
  • Even par: 2 Points
  • One over Par: 1 Point
  • Two over par: No Points

Or in golf terms:

  • Double Bogey: 0
  • Bogey: 1
  • Par: 2
  • Birdie: 3
  • Eagle: 4
  • Double Eagle / Albatross: 5

Gross or net

Golfers can play a Stableford format, either gross or net. If you are playing this as a gross event, the score at the end of the hole will be adjusted using the above scoring scale. If you are playing in a net Stableford tournament, a little more math will have to be done adding in an extra shot on the harder holes with handicap-adjusted scores.

Golfers will take their stroke index, convert it to a course handicap , and then set the golf scorecard up so that the hardest holes on the golf course are allowing golfers to get the help they need.

The number of strokes taken during a net Stableford will depend on the skill levels and handicap of the player. The number of points awarded in a net Stableford will be the same as a gross Stableford. The great thing about net scoring is that it can be much easier to score under par at times.

Curious to see how your handicap stacks up to others?  Check out this post on What is a good golf handicap. 

Object of the game

The object of the Stableford scoring is unlike traditional scoring methods in golf. With Stableford, you are going to try and accumulate as many points as you can. The person with the highest number of points will be declared the winner.

You accumulate points based upon your score relative to par. You are rewarded with the most points for an Albatross or an Eagle, followed in value by a Birdie, Par, then bogey, and will get zero points for a Double bogey or higher.

Golfers are so used to having to shoot the lowest score; this unique points-based system can be a completely different scoring format to try with friends or in a golf tournament. Scoring points somehow brings an entirely new look to the golf course because it limits your maximum score.

Modified stableford formatting

Modified Stableford formatting is something that the PGA Tour uses to determine the Stableford points system. Essentially for the professional golf player on the PGA Tour, scoring a bogey would still give them a point. This seems to be a bit rewarding for golfers who are certainly not trying to bogey or double bogey a hole.

The PGA Tour will instead penalize golfers for a bad hole with -1 point for a bogey and -3 points for a double bogey on individual holes. This can certainly take away quite a bit from the score and is much different than 1 point and 0 points. A higher handicapper would struggle with a format like this, but for lower handicap players, it encourages aggressive play.

Common questions about stableford scoring

Since a Stableford is based on the number of points a player gets as opposed to the number of strokes, the format tends to bring up quite a few good questions. Here are a few things that you should know about a Stableford scoring system.

Are stableford’s harder than stroke play?

Most golfers will find that a Stableford is a bit easier than stroke play. When playing a traditional Stableford tournament, if your total number of shots happens to be more than the double bogey, you can simply move on knowing you will get 0 points.

In a true stroke play tournament, you will have to record the full number of strokes taken at each hole. This will likely lead to much higher numbers and not nearly as much fun as the Stableford that allows you to stop at double bogey.

Is a stableford a good format for an outing?

Stableford can be a good format for a golf outing because it can also be done as a team event. Sometimes it can be hard to do both net and gross Stableford on the scorecard, and it can take some time to do the math. However, setting up a custom or adjusted Stableford scoring system for a team event can be quite a bit of fun and is a very popular format.

Can the points awarded on each hole for a stableford be changed?

When the points awarded as part of a Stableford are changed, they call this a modified Stableford format. Some golf tournament formats will modify the scoring to work for their specific players and courses. Other golf courses or tournament operators will only choose the traditional scoring method for the Stableford.

Typically speaking, the standard or traditional Stableford scoring seems to be the best match when playing with average golfers. When you move to the better players, sometimes throwing in a punishment for a bogey ends up making sense.

Conclusion: Scoring a stableford

Now that you know how the number of strokes taken will convert to your Stableford points, you are ready to head out there and try this format. Stableford formats are a lot of fun and will likely make you think a bit differently about the shots you are taking on the golf course.

Chances are you will get a bit more aggressive on those birdie putts knowing how many points you will be awarded for them. Stableford tournaments are great because they can be played with both a gross score and a net score, and anyone can enjoy the fun competition.

This format is one our favorites at AEC Info, and it may end up becoming a favorite game among you and your golf buddies as well.