The Stableford Golf Scoring System – A Beginners Guide

Today’s blog is talking about a different way to play & enjoy golf with your friends, instead of just adding up your total shots. This format makes golf more enjoyable for amateurs. If you’ve always wondered how to play stableford golf, then read on!

I’m an amateur golfer myself and the other day I was having my hair cut and my barber is a golfer. He plays twice a month on a Sunday morning with a couple of his friends, he hasn’t been playing that long and he was telling me about his game and I asked him how many stableford points did he score? What’s his handicap? He looked at me like he had no idea what I was saying.

It made me realise that there’s a lot of amateur golfers out there who don’t have an official handicap & more importantly don’t understand the stableford points system which is a fantastic way to play golf, have a competitive game and it not be all over if you have one terrible hole where you might get an 8, 9 or a 10 and it ruins your card.

So, the first thing to say about stableford is you will need a handicap of some description and for most of this blog I’m going to use 18 & 28 handicaps as the examples because it’s the easiest when talking about points per hole.

If you’re not at the position to have an official handicap, you can work out & agree a handicap amongst your friends by taking an average of your last few games and taking the par of the course off that score. If you’re shooting in and around 100, then you really want to play stableford on a 28 handicap (most courses are a par 72 and 100 minus 72 is 28)

Each individual hole has been rated according to how easy or hard it is. This is known as the Stroke Index (S.I). There is a full & detailed way they work this out but for this blog it’s irrelevant.

If you look at your scorecard for each hole it will tell you how many yards it is depending which tees you play from and also you will see a little box with says SI and this is telling you how hard the hole is compared to the others on the course. 1 being the hardest down to 18 the easiest.

The first job is to know how many shots you’re receiving over the standard par for the course. If it’s a par 72 course and your handicap is 28 then your par is 100. You will get 1 shot on every hole and the hardest 10 (28 minus 18 is 10) you will get 2 shots. On SI 1-10 if it’s a par 4 your par is now 6 (as you’ve been given 2 shots).
If you’re an 18 handicap then your par is 90 and you will get a shot on every hole. This makes every par 4 a par 5, every par 5 a par 6 and so on.

Now the stableford system works alongside the handicap system to create a game of points where each hole becomes like a mini game in itself. The basis is you’re looking to get 2 points on every hole, so if you come in with 36 points you have come in at level par for your handicap. You can get more points of course and you can also get less!

The Stableford scoring system is as follow:

Net Albatross – 5 Points
Net Eagle – 4 Points
Net Birdie – 3 Points
Net Par – 2 Points
Net Bogey – 1 Point

Now the joy of this format is you can stand up on the first tee and hit a shot out of bounds and be ‘3 off the tee’ and then perhaps you miss the green for 4 and chip on for 5 and two putt for a 7 on the first hole. Instead of writing 7 & thinking that is going to come and bite you as it’s 3 over par before you’ve even started its just called a blob (0 Points) & you move on.

Once you’re over the amount of shots to get a point you can just blob that hole and pick up. Your mate might get 2 points and your other mate might get 1 point and you arrive at the second tee only 1 or 2 points behind. You’re not miles out of the game, you could have a really good next couple of holes and your mates might have a bit of a wobble and all of sudden you’re right back in the game again.

You just need to know how many shots you receive on each hole by using the stroke index discussed earlier in the blog. Once you know this you can work out the points on each hole and hopefully have a good close game.

Hopefully this all makes sense but if you need a little more detail and some examples please see below:

Golfers often refer to the ‘Gross’ & the ‘Net’ score. The Gross score is what you actually got, so how many times you hit the ball, and the ‘Net’ score is what you get after taking extra shots received off.

On a par 4 you could gross a 5 but net a 4 which means you’ve taken your one shot allowance off. You will often hear people say I had a ‘5 net 4’ which means they’ve taken their shot into account and if you’ve got a 5 on a par 4 and you’ve received a shot because that’s your par on that hole you would get 2 points. It would be ‘5 net 4 for 2 points’ because you’ve got a shot.

Now on the holes with stroke indexes 1 -10 (for a 28 handicap who receives 2 shots on the hardest 10 holes) if you get a gross 6 on a par 4 (so you’re 2 over par) that’s fine because you’ve got 2 shots on that hole, so that also would be 2 points because that is a 6 net 4 for 2 points. The same golfer then plays a par 5 which is SI 4 (the 4th hardest hole on the course so they get 2 shots again) and gets an 8. This is ‘8 net 6 for 1 point’ because 6 is a net bogey on a par 5 hole.

Here is a couple of extra examples:

Par 3 – Stroke Index 18 – 18 handicap golfer (1 shot on each hole) – ‘4 net 3 for 2 points’
Par 5 – Stroke Index 8 – 26 Handicap golfer (2 shots on SI 1-8) – ‘8 net 6 for 1 point’
Par 4 – Stroke Index 9 – 26 Handicap golfer (2 shots on SI 1-8) – ‘7 net 6 for 0 points’


Thanks for reading, I hope this Blog has been helpful.

There are lots of other blogs and other content on the Golf Geeks Website aimed at helping fellow amateur golfers aswell as hundreds of quality second hand golf clubs for sale.

Matt @ Golf Geeks