Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Things to Know About Stableford Golf Scoring

Most people who play or follow golf are accustomed to scores being tabulated in one of two ways. The first, a number that represents the total number of strokes, is most meaningful for a full 9 or 18 holes. The second approach expresses a golfer's score in relation to par -- the total number of strokes over or under par at any point in a round. A third, less commonly used method, the Stableford system operates on a completely different premise.
Kenneth Chapman writes in his book "Rules of the Green" that the Stableford method of scoring was first devised by Dr. Frank Stableford of the Wallasey & Royal Liverpool Golf Clubs in 1898. Stableford sought to create an approach to scoring that would help keep frustrated golfers from abandoning a round after one or two poor holes at the start of a round. Used informally for years, the system was finally applied to a formal competition in Wallasey in 1932.
How It Works
The Stableford system is built around awarding points based on golfers' scores on each hole. A player who makes a double bogey or worse on a hole receives no points, while a bogey brings 1 point. Par earns 2 points and a birdie 3 points, according to Less common are eagles -- 2 under par on a hole -- and double eagle -- 3 under par. In the Stableford system, these scores add 4 points and 5 points, respectively, to a golfer's running total.
Applying Handicaps
Chapman also points out that Stableford typically uses handicaps for scoring. Handicaps, created for players over time as they compile a collection of rounds, reflect that individual's potential in relation to par -- an accounting for skill level. Each hole on a course has a handicap rating that approximates its difficulty. That rating stipulates which handicap levels should be "given" a stroke. For example, a golfer with a 7 handicap playing the number 6 handicap hole receives one stroke. If they were to make par, it would count as a "net" birdie and give them 3 points in the Stableford system.
Modern Use
The Stableford system has virtually no presence in modern high-profile golf competitions, nearly all of which use either stroke play or match play for scoring. One exception, The International, a PGA tour event, incorporated a modified Stableford system. The tournament was canceled in 2007, however, as it was viewed as a novelty, failing to gain a following with spectators and players who had grown accustomed to other scoring systems.

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