Wednesday, April 14, 2021

The End of Stableford Scoring

The Stableford Scoring System assigns points for various scores in relation to par.  It is a popular form of scoring throughout the world but has had limited acceptance in the United States.  Its main attraction to golfers is that it limits the score on a hole.  Once a player has had strokes equal to a net double bogey (bogey plus any handicap strokes he has earned through poor play), he gives himself zero points for the hole and moves on.  This speeds up play and limits embarrassment.  Both attributes contribute to the popularity of Stableford Scoring.

Before the introduction of the World Handicap System (WHS) in 2020, however, Stableford scoring was not consistent with the United States Golf Association’s Handicap System.  For example, Table 1 below shows the maximum score a player could take on a par 3 hole under Stableford and the USGA’s Equitable Stroke control.  A player is often allowed more strokes, and sometimes less, for handicap purposes under the USGA system than under Stableford Scoring. 

Handicap

Stableford

USGA Equitable Stroke Control

 

No Handicap Stroke

1 Handicap Stroke

No Handicap Stroke

1 Handicap Stroke

5

5

6

5

5

15

5

6

7

7

25

NA

6

8

8


The WHS eliminated this discrepancy by decreeing a maximum hole score for handicap purposes equal to a net double bogey—the same maximum used in the Stableford System.   By making this change, the WHS has eliminated the need for Stableford Scoring.  A player’s adjusted score under the WHS will be:

     1)  Adjusted Score = Course Par + Course Handicap – (Stableford Points – 36)

The player’s adjusted net score will be:

     2) Adjusted Net Score = Adjusted Score – Course Handicap = Course Par – (Stableford Points -36)

A player’s adjusted net score will be perfectly correlated with his Stableford Points.  The order of finish in any competition will be the same whether adjusted net score or Stableford Points are used.

The only reason to use Stableford Scoring is tradition.  This is not a strong reason in the United States where there is no tradition of Stableford Scoring.  Weighing against the use of Stableford Scoring is the non-zero probability of errors in converting hole scores to Stableford Points, the additional step of converting Stableford scores to Adjusted Scores for posting, and the confusion (admittedly small) caused by ”high scores win” which is different than every other form of golf competition.

If Stableford is to be assigned to history’s trash can, what do we name a system based on adjusted net scores?   It could be named after a great player of the past who would have won majors if only adjusted scoring had been used.  That idea was rejected since players should be remembered for their career excellence and not for one bad hole.  The next possibility was to name the system after a hallowed golf journalist who could promote the new system.  A logical candidate would be George Peper, the brilliant writer and editor of Links Magazine.  I consider Peper to be the Hugh Hefner of golf publishing.  Peper’s magazine has featured pictures of exotic courses you will never play and can only fantasize about.  For his public service in providing hours of solitary pleasure to golfers all over the world, the new system could be named “Peper” scoring.  That name might upset rival golf magazines, however, whose support would also be needed to popularize the new scoring system.  In the end, inspiration for the name comes from an apocryphal story told about how Frank Sinatra saved a stranger’s life.  On leaving a casino, a patron was attacked by thugs who were beating him mercilessly.   Frank walked by and said, “That’s enough” and the man was spared.  Hit two balls out-of-bounds, splash three balls into a penalty area (nee water hazard) or make like a burrowing animal in a bunker and adjusted hole scoring is saying “That’s enough.”  Therefore, the proposed name for the scoring system is the "That’s Enough Scoring System" or TESS.

Using TESS eliminates translating a hole score into points.  For example, if a player has a “4” on a par four and does not get a handicap stroke, he must convert the “4” into two Stableford points.  Under TESS, he simply writes down “4” as his hole score.  Under both Stableford and TESS, the player must realize his maximum score on any hole is a net double bogey.  At the completion of the round the player using TESS sums his holes scores to find his adjusted score for posting.  His net score is his adjusted score minus his handicap.  In a net tournament, a player’s Stableford score is his net score.  He, or a computer, must find his adjusted score for posting using eq. 1 above.  TESS is simpler than Stableford, but it remains to be seen if players can be weaned from the more familiar.

   

No comments:

Post a Comment