What is a Modified Stableford format and why should you try it?

barracuda championship flag

The Barracuda Championship proudly remains host to the PGA Tour's only tournament with Stableford-style scoring.

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Every year, there’s a single PGA Tour event that’s unlike all the others. It looks different, feels different, and features a leaderboard entirely foreign to what’s expected from a typical professional golf event. It is the Barracuda Championship.

Not what you were expecting? Well, that’s probably by design. Eight years ago, the PGA Tour elected to shift the format of the Barracuda (then the Reno-Tahoe Open) in an effort to spruce interest in the event. The format shift (from stroke play to a Modified Stableford) made the Barracuda the only event on the Tour calendar played under an alternate format.

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By: James Colgan

But the Modified Stableford isn’t only for the Barracuda. Here’s how you can play with your buddies.

The Big Picture

The Stableford is one of golf’s oldest games and gets its name from Dr. Frank Stableford, who created the game at Wallasey Golf Club in England back in 1932. Unlike traditional stroke play where the goal is to shoot the lowest score possible, the Modified Stableford uses a points system that awards those who score more points than their opponents. The goal of a Modified Stableford is to play in search of lower scores as opposed to against higher scores.

Scoring

In a Modified Stableford, all golfers play according to a fixed score that represents “par.” Those who score lower than the fixed number gain points based on their score, while those who score higher gaining zero points (or losing points, depending on the rules, but we’ll get to that in a second.) According to USGA and R&A rules, here’s the traditional scoring format for a Modified Stableford:

  • More than one over the fixed score: 0 points
  • One over the fixed score: 1 point
  • Fixed score: 2 points
  • One under fixed score: 3 points
  • Two under fixed score: 4 points
  • Three under fixed score: 5 points
  • Four under fixed score: 6 points

Generally, the fixed score in a Modified Stableford will represent par. Such is the case for the Barracuda Championship, which uses a slightly altered set of scoring rules:

  • Double Eagle: 8 points
  • Eagle: 5 points
  • Birdie: 2 points
  • Par: 0 points
  • Bogey: -1 point
  • Double Bogey or more: -3 points

Occasionally, tournament organizers will adjust the “fixed” score for a Stableford to reflect the ability level of the golfers participating. In this case, the scoring remains the same.

Why You Should Try It

The Modified Stableford is one of golf’s oldest games and is built to add a little bit of spice into the average round. The purpose of Stableford scoring is to promote risk-taking (and to successfully reward risk-takers) by providing incentives for low scores. If that sounds like you (or if you’re just a huge fan of the Barracuda Championship) try out a Modified Stableford during your next round and start earning a reward for scoring high.

Got an awesome golf game you want to see highlighted by us? Send your suggestions to james_colgan@golf.com.

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