What is the Stableford point system?

Stableford point system

golf scorecard

Golf scorecard

The stableford scoring system is a way of scoring in golf where a player scores points based on his stroke-play score for each hole. The goal is to score as many points as possible. The player with the most points wins.

The points are earned according to the following scale.


Double bogey or higher: 0

bogey: 1

Par: 2

Birdie: 3

Eagle: 4

Double eagle (albatros): 5

The US PGA Tour event, The International (canceled in 2007 after 21 years) used a modified stableford system.


• Double Eagle: 8 points

• Eagle: 5 points

• Birdie: 2 points

• Par: 0 points

• Bogey: -1 point

• Double Bogey or Worse: -3 points


Stableford System and Handicap Play

A very important aspect of the Stableford System is that the traditional handicap system in golf can be easily applied so that players of different abilities can play against eachother as equals.

This is done by taking a player’s handicap and spreading it out across all the holes. This is done according to the handicapping of each hole as shown in the diagram below.

Let’s take a look at some examples:

Ex. 1) A player holds a handicap of 18. He has 18 strokes to be distributed. He will get one stroke on every hole. In essence, he can subtract one stroke from his score on each hole. A bogey for him on any hole turns into a par. In stableford, he will thus score 2 points for every bogey he makes.

A scratch golfer (0 handicap) must score a par in order to score 2 points in Stableford.

Let’s say the scratch golfer has 18 pars. He earns 36 Stableford points. If the 18 handicap player has 18 bogeys (18 over par), he too will score 36 points in Stableford. In this case, there would be a tie between the two players.  This is quite normal, as the scratch golfer would “give” the 18 handicap player 18 strokes in a handicapped stroke-play match.

Ex. 2) A player has a handicap of 24. He will automatically have one stroke on every hole. He will have a second stroke on the 6 most difficult holes. On those more difficult holes, a double bogey will score him 2 points in Stableford, as he will subtract 2 strokes from his stroke-play score on each of those holes. He will also scored two points in Stableford for every bogey on the other “easier” hole.

It is easy to imagine a scenario between this player and a scratch golfer as we did in example 1.

Ex. 3) A player carries a handicap of 4. He will receive only 1 point on the four most difficult holes. As a 4 handicap player, he is expected to be able to score a par “without help” on the 14 easiest holes.

Once again, it is easy to illustrate a match between this player and others.

The interesting thing about the Stableford point system is that it very closely reflects stroke-play scoring in golf.  By knowing a player’s handicap and how many points he scores in Stableford, we can essentially know what he shot in stroke play, AND more importantly, what he shot relative to his handicap. The “magic number” in Stableford is 36. In essence, 36 points in Stableford means that a player had 18 pars (18 x 2 points for a par). Knowing that the par for each hole is adjusted according to a player’s handicap, 36 points also means that a player shot his handicap.

Remember that in Stableford the better one plays, the MORE points he scores. So if a player scores more than 36 points, he has played better than his handicap. If he scores less than 36 points, he has played worse than his handicap.

Extra credit:

For anyone who has studied the details of the modern handicap system, you may notice that the Stableford system reflects the idea of equitable stroke control. The equitable stroke control system is set up so that a player cannot score more than two strokes over his handicap on any given hole. Inversely calculated, those two strokes are the two points for a par in the Stableford system.

What is a slice and what causes it?

The golf ball is a sphere that spins around any number of different axes depending on how the club hits the ball.  A ball that one sees in flight is a ball that is spinning around one of these axes.  A ball that flies dead straight has pure backspin. (note: a flying ball cannot have topspin, as topspin would make the ball shoot to the ground) any other spin than pure backspin will make the ball curve either to the left or to the right. A ball that curves to the right (for a right-handed player) is commonly called a “slice” (or a “fade” if the amount of curve is only slight).

Look at the diagram below to see how a slice spin is created. Notice the relationship of the path of the club to the position of the clubface. Slice spin is created by having a clubface that is open relative to the direction in which the club is traveling.

This swing is often called “outside to inside.”  the sake of this article we will talk primarily about the outside to in swing as it is indeed the most common. Now that we understand how the club spins the ball, then let’s try to identify tendencies in the swing that create such club ball contact.

1) Weak Grip

A weak grip will cause a slice for virtually every golfer who is not a professional. Professional golfers manage to hit it straight (and even with a draw with a weak grip) but it is not easy. If you are slicing the ball, look first at your grip. Make sure that the club is positioned in the hand so that the base of the hand is on “the top of the club” and the thumb is slightly to the right of the top. You can rotate your hand over more to make it stronger, but don’t let the club shift to the palm of the hand as you do so (refer to our article “Grip: Myth and Facts”).

2) Shoulder plane too flat

When the shoulders turn back too flat (left shoulder stays too high), a slice is almost guaranteed. The reason for this is that the right shoulder gets pushed back too far and too low, forcing it to be thrown out over the top on the downswing.  This position occurs often when people try to get the club back inside and flat in an effort to swing back to the ball more from the inside. Remember, too flat going back will cause a steep, over the top downswing (and the slice!).

3) Cupping of left wrist during backswing

Indeed, Ben Hogan’s secret is the amateur golfer’s nemesis!  Hogan had a terrible hook while he was a young professional. One day he discovered that if he cupped his left hand at the top of his backswing it was virtually impossible for him to hook the ball. The reason is very simply because the cupping of the wrist opens the clubface, usually so much that most golfers have no chance of squaring the clubface before impact. A flat left wrist at the top of the backswing is one of the common checkpoints of a solid golf swing.

4) Moving upper body in front of the ball before impact (especially with the driver)

This problem stems very often from a poor setup position. Using the driver as an example, many players have the shoulders too level and slightly open at address. This makes it very difficult to “get behind” the ball properly during the backswing AND TO STAY BEHIND the ball on the downswing. Once the upper body moves in front of the ball before impact, the club will almost always stay open, creating the slice.

5) Shoulders too open at impact

A study of slicers done by Golf Digest (I think!) showed that virtually every slice has a common characteristic: the shoulders were too open at impact!  Shoulders too open at impact, of course, is more an effect than a cause in and of itself. So changing the shoulder position at impact demands changes in the swing prior to impact.  Thus, this information is only useful if you know how to troubleshoot yourself.  Nonetheless, you can benefit from this by taking practice swings all the while paying attention to your shoulder position through impact.  Many of the clues to troubleshooting can be found above.

Getting around the greens – a lesson on club selection [VIDEO]

Club and Shot Selection While Chipping

When you get close to the green as we see in this diagram, proper club selection can make your shot alot easier. Our goal is to help you make the right decision.

around the green chart showing the right club selection

Each position (A-E) shows the right club selection around the greens.

First of all, always remember a golden rule when hitting a golf shot (especially in the short game): if you can’t see it, you won’t be able to hit it. This diagram should also help you “see” the right shot to play. In each of these situations you can click on it for more details (and video) as to how to hit the shot.

A)  chip and run with a 7 iron or even a 5 iron

Here the pin is way to the back of the green and you have come up a little short. You are going to want to run the ball back to the pin. You do this by choosing a lower lofted club like a 7 iron or even a 5 iron if the green is real big. Take a standard chipping setup position and the club does all the work to get the ball rolling. For distance control, I like imagining that I am lag putting here and I like for the wrists to stay soft–let the wrists “play” a little. This will help get the ball rolling even better.

B)  off fringe with PW

This is the classic chip shot. With a pitching wedge, your ball will fly about half way to the hole and roll half way to the hole, depending on the speed of the green. A properly struck ball will land and skip a little because of the backspin that you put on it. It will then finish off rolling toward the hole. Don’t forget to read the break as you may have a chance to hole this shot with practice.

C) just in rough with sandwedge

This shot here is virtually the same as the previous except the ball is in the rough. Because of the rough, you will want to take a more lofted club– the sandwedge. You can play this with a slightly open clubface to help get more spin on the ball. Hinge the wrists slightly so as to have a steeper angle of attack. Land the ball about half way to the hole and it will roll the rest of the way.

D)  behind the bunker with lob wedge

This shot has become easier since the invention of the lob wedge. Before the lob wedge, players had to really open the clubface and “cut across” the ball–that is line the feet up way left and swing across the target line. With the lob wedge, you can still use that technique a little if you feel like it is needed to get the ball higher, but it shouldn’t be too dramatic. Play the ball slightly on the inside of the left foot. Hinge the wrists and hit down int the rough. Make sure that you stay down on your shot. Tjhe ball will “flop” out of the rough, flying most of the way to the hole. There won’t be much roll once it lands.

E)  just over the green, chip shot with a lob wedge or sandwedge

Here the ball is just lff the back of the green and you don’t have much green between you and the hole. You need to chip it on the edge of the green without much roll once it lands. This is a great spot to hit a little chip shot with the lob wedge (or sandwedge if green is soft). Chipping with a lofted club like a lob wedge puts alot of spin on the ball. Once it lands it will not roll far. Make sure that you make a short, crisp stroke and that you accelerate through the ball. Most people get nervous and decelerate on these shots. Don’t make that mistake.