This weekend features one of the more unique golf tournaments of the year. The Reno-Tahoe Open may not get the same media attention as the other tournament taking place this weekend (such as The Bridgestone Invitational) but it is certainly noteworthy. The most unique feature of this particular tournament is the scoring system.
Unlike traditional stroke play tournaments, the Reno-Tahoe Open uses the Modified Stableford System. The average golfer may not have heard of this way of scoring golf. Stableford tends to reward the aggressive player, and can also help to level the playing field.
The Stableford system was developed by Frank Stableford as a means of keeping tournaments competitive even if a golfer had a couple of blow-up holes. Under normal stroke play rules, if a golfer take a 12 on a hole, it’s pretty likely they’re out of contention for good. Under the Stableford system, however, the damage done to the overall score is significantly less.
The only difference between Modified Stableford and Traditional Stableford is that in the modified version, the fixed score is whatever par is for the hole, whereas in the traditional version, the fixed score can be whatever is decided upon. Let’s elaborate.
Here’s how it works: say that the fixed score is 4 (In Modified Stableford, this would be the case on a par 4). The golfer scores accordingly:
- +5 for an Eagle
- +2 for a birdie
- 0 for a par
- -1 for a Bogey
- -3 for a Double Bogey or worse
No matter how bad you play a particular hole, you can only lose 3 points. Suddenly that 12 doesn’t feel so bad.
Here’s how it rewards aggressive play. Say you’re tempted to reach a par 5 in two, but water guards the front of the green. If you knock the ball on, you have the potential of earning +5 on the hole. If you hit it in the water and wind up taking a bogey, you only lose a point. The reward outweighs the risk.
So if you happen to watch the tournament in Lake Tahoe this weekend and see the leaderboard littered with +45’s, don’t freak out. The golf course probably isn’t playing 45 shots over par.