All you need to know about Modified Stableford scoring

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July 29, 2013

RENO, Nev. -- The Reno-Tahoe Open changed its scoring format for 2012 and is now the only tournament on the PGA TOUR to use the Modified Stableford system. Here are answers to a few questions to help you get acquainted (or perhaps re-acquainted) with the scoring format that will be in place again this week at Montreux Golf and Country Club.


The Modified Stableford system allocates points based on the number of strokes taken at each hole, with the goal of achieving the highest overall score.

Differing from a normal Stableford scoring system, a Modified Stableford features higher penalties for poor shots -- minus three points for a double bogey for example (see chart below) -- and greater rewards for good shots, such as plus eight for a double eagle.


The Reno-Tahoe Open, now entering its 15th year on the PGA TOUR, has embraced its reputation as the impetuous tournament on the PGA TOUR.

Combined with the already make-it-or-break-it final series of holes at Montreux, the addition of the Modified Stableford system is expected to create an even greater risk-reward format by encouraging players to make the most out of every hole and creating a heightened sense of anticipation for fans.

“I really love the Stableford format,” said J.J. Henry, who won the 2012 Reno-Tahoe Open in the first year of the Modifield Stableford system. “Last year was exciting. It was a neat finish coming down the stretch. ...

“When I first heard the switch, I know I can speak for a lot of players, we’re excited. It’s the only one on TOUR. That and (the two or three opportunities to play) match play, guys like change. And the golf course is a perfect fit. There’s a lot of risk-reward. It’s a fun format on a unique golf course.”

The PGA TOUR supports the tournament's decision to make the scoring change.

"The PGA TOUR believes there is merit to this format for Reno," PGA TOUR Vice President and Chief of Operations Andy Pazder said. "The Modified Stableford system not only promotes aggressive play, which the tournament is already known for, but Montreux lends itself well to this exciting format with its series of challenging finishing holes."


The Stableford system was developed by Dr. Frank Barney Gorton Stableford more than 100 years ago, as he introduced it to his fellow members at a golf club in Wales. It was an experiment back then and Stableford was not happy with the results, so he worked on a new formula that he introduced in 1931.

He wanted to deter golfers from giving up after playing only one or two bad holes, a common occurrence during tournament play. It is also credited with significantly speeding up the pace of play.

A variation in points on the original Stableford system is called the Modified Stableford.

Prior to the 2012 Reno-Tahoe Open the Modified Stableford was last used on the PGA TOUR in 2006 at The International.


Modified Stableford scoring system
Double eagle 8 points Par 0 points
Eagle 5 points Bogey -1 point
Birdie 2 points Double bogey or worse -3 points

The number of points is awarded based on relation to par; however, the most points are awarded for the least number of strokes.

Last year, Woody Austin won the Reno-Tahoe Open with 43 points. In his four rounds, he carded three eagles (worth 15 points) and 17 birdies (worth 34 points) and suffered six bogeys (minus 6 points) to end up with 43 points.


A portion of the Reno-Tahoe scorecard provides contestants a chance to keep track of their points. See the official 2013 scorecard below.


The strategy in Modified Stableford formats can, in most instances, be summed up in three words: Go for it.

The Reno-Tahoe Open format will reward aggression and risk-taking on the golf course. For instance, if the TOUR pro is facing a carry over water that he normally wouldn't try, the Modified Stableford format presents an incentive to go for it. A birdie is worth twice as many positive points (2) as a bogey is worth punitive points (-1). Eagles offer huge payoffs (5 points) and the worst a player could possibly do would be a double bogey (-3 points) at which point he could pick up his ball and carry on to the next hole.

Those golfers who make a few bogeys but also make a lot of birdies or eagles are more likely to be atop the leaderboards.


For an example of how the Modified Stableford might work -- and how it might impact the leaderboard -- compared to the usual stroke-play scoring at PGA TOUR events, let's look at this year's Sanderson Farms Championship.

Woody Austin defeated Cameron Beckman and Daniel Summerhays with a birdie on the first playoff hole. Had Sanderson Farms been using the Modified Stableford system, the tournament never would have gotten to a playoff. Beckman would have won by one point, thanks to making one more birdie than Austin.

Beckman vs. Austin vs. Summerhays
Result Amount Mod. Stableford pts Amount Mod. Stableford pts Amount Mod. Stableford pts
Eagle 1 5 points 1 5 points 1 5 points
Birdie 24 48 points 23 46 points 21 42 points
Par 41 0 points 43 0 points 47 0 points
Bogey 6 minus 6 points 5 minus 5 points 3 minus 3 points
Dbl. Bogey/worse 0 0 points 0 0 points 0 0 points
Total points   47 points   46 points   44 points


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