How to Calculate Golf Handicap and Stableford Points

by M.L. Rose

    In the Stableford points system of scoring, a player's score is based on points earned rather than the number of strokes taken, according to PGA pro Mark Blakemore. Under the Rules of Golf, points are earned relative to a “fixed score,” usually par. Finishing any hole two strokes over the fixed score -- a double-bogey if the fixed score is par -- earns no points. A bogey earns one point and par earns two points. The maximum score is six points for shooting 4-under par on a hole, but that will not occur unless the player receives a handicap stroke. Combining handicaps with the Stableford system requires simple math.

    Step 1

    Determine your course handicap using your USGA handicap index. The USGA notes that most courses post a chart displaying a range of handicap indexes in one column and the corresponding course handicap -- the handicap number you’ll use at that specific location -- in a second column.

    Step 2

    Check the handicap rating of each hole -- listed on the scorecard -- to determine if you’ll receive a handicap stroke on that hole. If the handicap rating is less than or equal to your course handicap, you receive a handicap stroke on that hole.

    Step 3

    Play the hole. If you don’t receive a handicap stroke, count your strokes and determine how many points you scored on the hole. For example, If you’re using par as the fixed score, and you bogey the hole, you receive one point under the USGA guidelines. If you do receive a handicap stroke, however, subtract one stroke from your actual score before tallying your points. To continue the above example, an actual bogey becomes a net par, giving you two points instead of one, according to the Rules of Golf.

    Step 4

    Add your points at the end of the match. The player with the greater number of points is the winner.

    Tips

    • The International, a PGA Tour event that employed a modified Stableford scoring system, was played from 1986 through 2006. Players received two points for a birdie, five for an eagle and eight for a double eagle. Players received nothing for a par, while losing one point for a bogey and three points for a double bogey. Handicaps were not used.

    About the Author

    M.L. Rose has worked as a print and online journalist for more than 20 years. He has contributed to a variety of national and local publications, specializing in sports writing. Rose holds a B.A. in communications.

    Photo Credits

    • Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images