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Strokeplay vs. Stableford

Is your love of Stableford holding your golf back?

Conventional wisdom says Stableford is easier to play

Often I have been that helpless prey - a sitting duck. The poor club professional stationed near the club competition box or score input screen.

The golfer has his victim cornered and now proceeds to give him a shot-by-shot account of what is going to be one of the most boring stories that anybody – let alone a golf professional – has ever heard!

There is no point in a struggle- I just listen to what boils down to another tale of what might have been. In short, the guy has had 22 points going out and then having counted his points tally at the 10th tee, has struggled back with 11 points coming home.

You probably know him. He is often the guy who is free with plenty of advice for others but is never seen spending any time learning from the resident expert in his club – his pro! He often has a small golf towel tucked into his trousers. Last he is the guy who never enters medals as they are too difficult as Stableford allows you to mess up a few holes with ruining your score. If he stopped talking long enough listen, I would have two messages for him…

1. Although we are sorry to hear how his round failed to match its early promise – no one probably cares and no one wants to hear a blow-by-blow account of this forgettable round!

2. He has believed what I think is a false idea which I think could be holding you back from reaching your potential in golf!

Think back to your early days on the course

When you started golf you ventured out onto the course with your clubs as many balls as you could carry, a scorecard and a pencil. Those first few rounds were not pretty! Scoring well over 100 shots (probably nearer to 120) you realized how difficult golf is but you also had a marker - a personal best! That 120 was now what you were trying to beat every time you teed it up.

Soon your scores got close to a hundred – then one day you did it! You shoot 98 and have broken 100 for the first time. It seems easier in the weeks to come and soon you set your sights on breaking the 90. Then you do that!

It's all great fun because improving at anything is fun and gets us dreaming of new heights! For some, they then push on shooting sub-80 and then sub-par! Up to this stage, golf is always about breaking through your previous personal bests – it’s great fun!

But our golfer now reaches another milestone, he joins a golf club and achieves his first handicap - a creditable 15! He plays in his first competition and is introduced to the Stableford scoring system!

Par is NOT 87 - It's 72!!!

Once our aspiring golfer has played in a few Stableford's he is victim to psychology that creeps into his thinking without knowing it is happening. Its a mentality that...

1. Allows him to completely blow-up on a few holes taking away from his previous thinking – EVERY SHOT MATTERS BECAUSE I WANT TO BEAT MY BEST SCORE AGAIN TODAY!

2. Stableford effectively turns the par of the course from 72 into a non-aspirational figure with his 15 handicaps of 87!

I will say it again par is not 87 - It's 72!

Now I know that a blowout on one hole is so frustrating but when was the last time you had a quadruple-bogey in a Stableford round and shot 40 or more points? It doesn’t happen hardly ever ever ever!

So what is the solution?

Well, I hope you have gathered that this blog post comes into the topic of sport, or golf psychology or as I prefer to say correct thinking.

William James a prominent psychologist of the 20th century was asked to share what – in his opinion – what the most significant finding in research in this field in the first half of the 1900s

This was his answer…

“People, by and large, become what they think about themselves”.

So what! I hear someone cry. Well, actions follow thinking! Our aspirational improving golfer has plateaued and now seldom plays to his 36 point goal. Well, the point is that it is vital to understand this truth...

"Your current handicap does not define you and is not a statement of the limit of your potential"!

Please commit to doing these three things from now on.

1. Do not mark your own Stableford scores in the markers column and tell your partners to only talk about your points at the end. Know what the gross score is first.

2. In friendly games or playing on your own get back to marking each score, hole by hole and total it up at the end. Date and file the card or put the data on a spreadsheet or whatever.

3. From now on always know what your best score of the calendar year is so far. Think to yourself as you put your tee in the ground on the fist hole “Today I am here to beat my best score of the year so far, it might not happen but that is my intention!

A round of golf is not a sprint it's a marathon - don't let a bad hole or two discourage you!

As golfers at golf courses in the Buckinghamshire / Oxfordshire area and around the world we need to be dreamers that 'today could be the day' and then play their game focused on that objective. I know this means that golf will often kick us and we will be left disappointed. But people by and large BECOME WHAT THEY THINK ABOUT THEMSELVES! So commit to thinking about the outcome that we DO want - the one we used to dream about...

I can advise you on on the mental aspect of your game. Correct thinking techniques give you better results and more fun. Contact me to see how I can help!

Pat Flynn

PGA Qualified Golf Professional

Pat Flynn is based at -

AB Golf Performance Centre





Tel. 07779 532375

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