The Stableford was developed over one hundred years ago in Wales.  Its theory is that players should earn points for good shots rather than counting all strokes on a hole.  A point system awards points ranging from eagles to birdies to bogeys, but once a player exceeds a fixed number of strokes over par and no more points may be earned, the ball may be picked up and the player may move on to the next hole.  The result:  Faster play!

The Stableford and the modified Stableford remain very popular in Europe and Australia even in women’s golf.  The format is less popular in the United States among women golfers, and only one PGA Tour event currently uses the modified Stableford – the Barracuda Championship July 22-28, 2019.

Handicaps are used in the Stableford, and although the tournament winner is the one with the highest Stableford-points, a total score of all strokes played is entered for maintaining official handicaps.  Perhaps the great Australian and UK women golfers have benefited by learning to take on more risk in their regular club events.  It’s something to think about.

The 2019 LPGA Tour season kicks off this week with the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions, presented by IOA, in Orlando, FL. The four-day tournament features two tournaments in one, the first with 26 LPGA Tour winners from the last two years, competing in a traditional stroke play, and the second is made up of a group of celebrity golfers playing in a modified version of the Stableford format, customized specifically for this tournament.

The modified Stableford point system for this tournament is as follows:

  • Double Bogey -1
  • Bogey 0
  • Par +2
  • Birdie +3
  • Eagle +5
  • Hole-In-One +8
  • Double Eagle +10

All points totaled for the player’s final score.

One of the key features of the modified Stableford is that in order to make those birdies, the celebrities will have to dig into their risk-taking skills as they consider hitting over a hazard or out of the bunker.  But the great athletes and celebrities participating have become famous because they took risks:  Whether it was a long pass into the end-zone, a home run on a 3-and-2 pitch or a new song with a new band.  These celebrities know how to win!

One good feature about the modified Stableford is that it can be “modified.”  And that is what happened at the Diamond Resorts tournament.  The day before the tournament began, it was decided that no celebrity player should get “negative” points which was part of the original points for a bogey.  This was a fun tournament and the TV audience might be confused with negative points on a score card for a celebrity score.  The new, revised scoring format was much better.  Here it is:  Double Eagle – 10 points; Hole-in-One – 8 points; Eagle – 5 points; Birdie – 3 points; Par – 2 points; Bogey – 1 point and Double Bogey and Higher — 0 points.  The points worked great.  For the record, the winner John Smoltz (baseball pitcher) won with 149 points.  Second place went to baseball celebrity Mark Mulder with 146 points and third was the great tennis player Mardy Fish with 140 points.  they probably each thought “If only I had birdied that hole!”