Stableford Scoring – The Complete Guide To Golf’s Popular Format

# Beginners Guides To Golf

Stableford Scoring – The Complete Guide To Golf’s Popular Format

As if learning how to hit the golf ball wasn’t hard enough, the world of golf gives us an albeit great format, but a format that feels like it requires a master’s degree in maths to figure out what you actually scored. Well, that’s how I felt when I first started the game. Turns out that’s actually not the case (it’s actually quite easy once you understand and use it). Let me introduce you to the format of Stableford and show you the Stableford scoring (often misspelled and mispronounced as ‘stapleford scoring’ … if that’s you, don’t worry we’ve all been there).  


Stableford is the format most often played in the UK. And I love it. It means that all players of any ability can compete against each other. It doesn’t matter that your friends play off 14, 7, 21 and you’re off a 28 handicap (yes you will need a handicap for this format). Instead of just deciding the winner based on who took the fewest total shots, the winner is decided based on how they played against their own handicap.


In short, you get awarded points based on the number of shots you take.

The goal then becomes to get the highest number of points in your group or in the competition.


How To Score Using The Stableford Format

  • Double Bogey or worse (2 shots over par) – 0 points
  • Bogey (One shot over par) – 1 point
  • Par – 2 points – The goal being to get 36 points or better for your round.
  • Birdie (one shot under par) – 3 points
  • Eagle (2 shots under par) – 4 points
  • Albatross (3 shots under par) – 5 points
  • Condor (4 shots under par) – 6 points


How Does Handicap Come Into The Stableford Scoring System?

The points awarded are based on the score once it’s been adjusted according to the player’s handicap. 

So for example, if you are playing a par 4 and you get a shot on that hole, and you hit 5 shots, you scored a net par, so you get 2 points for that hole!


How Do I Know How Many Shots I Get On Each Hole?

This is where the stroke index comes in. If you grab a scorecard, you’ll see a column which has S.I at the top. That’s the stroke index, or simply the difficulty ranking of the hole. 1 is deemed the hardest hole on the course, while 18 is considered the easiest. 


If you are an 18 handicapper, you get 1 shot on each hole. 


A 7 handicapper gets an extra shot on the 7 hardest holes. Those holes with a stroke index of 1-7


A 28 handicapper gets 28 extra shots…. So they get 2 shots on the 10 hardest holes on the course, stroke index 1-10, and 1 shot on the remaining 8 holes.


So let’s say a 7 handicapper and a 28 handicapper are playing a par 4 with a stroke index of 7.


The 7 handicapper gets 1 shot, while the 28 handicapper gets 2 

7 HCP, scores a 6, a double bogey, makes a net bogey and gets 1 point.

The 28 HCP, also scores a 6, makes net par and gets 2 points


I realise this is probably sounding all very confusing, but just get yourself out on the course and start working it out, or maybe even do it after the round if you are worried about it taking too long. 


Tip – Before the round, grab a scorecard and mark, with a little dot or two the holes you get shots on. For example, if you are playing off 24, you know you get at least one shot on every hole, plus an extra shot on holes with stroke index 1-6. So put a little mark on those holes, so you know you get an extra shot, and it makes it quicker for working out your score as you walk to the next tee.



One of the big benefits of Stableford Scoring in golf…

If you can’t score points on a hole, because you’ve taken too many shots already, you can just pick the ball up and score a zero. You don’t need to continue trying to get the ball out of the trees and rack up a 15… which is super demoralising. 



Can Golf Apps Help With Stableford Scoring?

You may have already downloaded a golf app like Golf Game Book, Golf Shot, or one of the many out there. Most of them, if they allow you to track your score will work out the points automatically. 


Just be a tad wary, since the change to the new handicap system, where your handicap adjusts for every course you play, our group has found the Golf Shot app hasn’t correctly worked out the Stableford scores on some holes. Golf Game Book is yet to let me down, which is why I would recommend that app.


Ultimately I would still make sure you know how to work out your scores manually.


What If You Don’t Have A Handicap?

Without a handicap, this format simply isn’t possible to play, but that doesn’t mean you need to have an “official” handicap if you are just playing with your mates.

If you have joined a club you’ll be awarded a handicap after 3 recorded rounds. If not a member of a club you can join England Golf using their iGolf app. Or if you are just using a handicap to play with your mates, lots of apps will give you a handicap of sorts based on the rounds you play. This is one current negative about Golf Game Book is that it doesn’t give you a handicap. My friends and I have used My Online Golf Club for years to track ours, it’s free to use and appears to do a World Handicap System calculation.


Join England Golf

Another app and membership that is worth considering is the England Golf iGolf app. For £40/year, this allows you to have an “official” handicap even if you aren’t a member of a golf club.  This will track all your scores and adjust your handicap after each round.


Check these golf guides out too


Check out some of the other guides in our beginners series:

  1. The Rules Of Golf – The Beginners Guide
  2. Golf Etiquette For Beginners
  3. Golf Terms For Beginners – Learning The Language Of Golf
  4. Golf Dress Code For Beginners

Also, if you haven’t already signed up for our FREE golf community, make sure to do that now! All the golf chat you could want awaits!

Chris Wright
Article by:
Chris Wright

Chief Hacker at Sunday Red Golf. I absolutely LOVE the game of golf and will chat with anyone and everyone about it.

Related Articles

Best Irons For Beginners In 2023 Best Irons For Beginners In 2023

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably already caught the golfing bug and are ready to graduate to your first set of beginner irons. If you were anything like me when I started playing, then this decision can’t come soon enough! When I first started, I was using a rusty old set of second-hand irons which […]

The Most Popular Golf Games To Play On The Course The Most Popular Golf Games To Play On The Course

Golfers LOVE competition, history would also tell us that they like a bit of gambling too. So it’s no surprise that there are a bunch of different golf games to play on the course.   If you want to mix it up a bit from just counting your shots and getting depressed when you hit […]

Golf Essentials That Every Beginner Needs On The Course Golf Essentials That Every Beginner Needs On The Course

You’ve made the decision to get out on the golf course… that’s great news! I’m going to assume you’ve already got your golf clubs, so now we need to make sure you have all the golf essentials to take out on the course. Perhaps you’re wondering what on earth people carry around in their golf […]

Best Golf Balls For Beginners Best Golf Balls For Beginners

Best Golf Balls For Beginners If you are just starting out in this awesome sport, then let me first say… welcome! Hopefully, the golf addiction has hit you hard… it’s a real thing. You’re here looking for the best golf balls for beginners and I’m going to share with you some great golf balls to […]


Be a part of something special in the golf world. We are not one society, we will be loads of societies. Will we hold events, probably, will there be lots of golf played... definitely!