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Aussie Golfer: Do we play too much stableford?

STABLEFORD is the most popular golf format in Australia but is it best for your game?

STABLEFORD is the most common format played in competition golf at Australian golf clubs but are we playing too much of it and is it hurting our golf game?

No matter what the final score, Stableford scoring often doesn’t reflect the round played and can lead to some golfers having a lower handicap than they might have if they were playing more stroke play.

It can also mean that golfers are neglecting one of the most important aspects of golf: the short game.

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I’d estimate that more than 70% of all competition golf rounds in Australia are played under the Stableford format, most likely much higher.

By primarily playing Stableford golf it can lead to an unhealthy and often unrealistic view of one's own golf game.

I’ve seen plenty of golfers who claim they aren’t far away from a good score, or seeing their handicap drop a few strokes after posting scores in the low 30’s for several weeks in a row.

And the really bad rounds can often be masked by a score in the high 20s courtesy of a couple of decent holes.

Wiping a hole can only mean one thing: you’ve failed to get the ball in the hole when it mattered.

"It’s surprising how much more fun (and quicker) a round of stroke play can be."

Often it means you’ve failed to get the ball in the hole at all and this can be bad for your short game.

It runs counter-intuitive to what the game is about - getting the ball in the hole in as few strokes a possible - and getting the ball in the hole on every hole is where stroke play comes in.

Very few Australian golfers play stroke play golf much any more. Some golfers really struggle and prefer to avoid it altogether, which is easy to do.

Chances are those golfers have handicaps a little lower than they should be.

So what should we be doing?

Well, if you’re someone that loves the format because it’s less stressful, and means playing fewer shots during a round of golf - then nothing at all.

But if you’re frustrated with your game and have noticed the lack of improvement around the greens, maybe you should play some more stroke play - ensuring that every shot counts.

At the very least, you should be placing extra emphasis on practising your short game, particularly after a bad Stableford score.

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Golf clubs should plan more competition strokeplay but are cautious about doing so because of the extra time that it takes to play.

This has come about because too often strokeplay golf has been reserved for the toughest course set-up - back tees and the toughest pins for the monthly medal.

Golf clubs should be taking a different approach and encouraging all golfers (across all grades) to play strokeplay from the most forward tees, or the easiest pin positions.

It’s surprising how much more fun (and quicker) a round of stroke play can be.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the Stableford format and more golfers around the world (particularly in the US) should be playing it more often.

It allows for a more fulfilling round of golf - ideal for older members or those new to the game. And it there is no questioning its role in playing faster rounds of golf.

A lot of mid-week and Sunday golfers easily avoid the stroke play format altogether because it seems a lot less fun, and can take a lot longer to play.

But unlike Stableford, it does gives a much better representation of your total golf game and won’t leave you with too many doubts about the state of your golf game.

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Michael Green
About The Author : Michael Green

Golf writer - Aussie Golfer, Inside Golf, GolfLink

Australian Golf Writers Association member

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