Stableford Scoring Explained
This week’s Reno-Tahoe Open uses a modified Stableford Scoring system. This is a golf game unfamiliar to most weekenders, but that deserves a lot more popularity. It creates excitement by encouraging players to go for birds. The scoring also can be highly volatile.
It does produce some funny scores, though. Instead of winning by -11 or some such, the winner is going to have a score that looks more like +22. Unlike traditional golf, higher is better.
The Stableford System was invented by an Englishman named Barney Stableford, who was attempting to devise a scoring system that rewarded risk taking. In regular stroke play, players often will avoid risky moves because they can quickly balloon a score. Under the Stableford system, the cost of taking a large number of strokes on a single hole is minimized.
Here’s how it works:
Players get no points for a par, 2 points for a birdie, 5 for an Eagle and 8 for a double eagle. On the down side, you lose a point for a bogey, and lose three for a double bogey or worse.
The effect of this is that if you blow up on any single hole, the worse you can get is a -3. Also, note that a birdie is worth two, while a bogey costs you just one. With that kind of calculus, it pays to “go for it.”
Unlike a regular golf game, the winner is the one with the MOST points.
Stableford Scoring is often used in club tournaments for precisely that reason. And it’s a reason to pay attention to the Reno Tahoe Open. It could be a pretty exciting weekend of golf.
The last PGA Tournament to use the system was The International (1986-2006). In spite of its popularity with the players who played there, the tournament was effectively killed when Tiger said he would never play there. Not coincidentally, the International was soon replaced with Tiger’s AT&T National at Congressional.
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