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stableford

Which is better? Medal or Stableford?

Every shot counts or a points bonanza? Which side of the turf are you on? Steve Carroll and Alex Perry fight over their favourite format
 

A late friend of mine would never hear of anything else. “Medal is the true test of golf,” he would say as growled down any suggestions of an alternate format and practically foamed at the mouth at the prospect of gimmes.

But Frank Stableford put a little spanner in the works of anyone who shared those views when he devised his genius points system at Wallasey in 1931.

Its popularity has far outlived the good doctor and, whether it’s a fun event or a serious board competition, the calendar is rammed full of them at plenty of our clubs.

So has the Stableford overtaken the medal as the measuring rod at our level, or will total strokes always hold sway? I’ve roped in my colleague Alex Perry to ruminate over this most vital issue.

‘Medal will always be the flagship’

Imagine a club championship being settled over a Stableford? It would be a travesty, writes Steve Carroll. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got plenty of time for accumulating a few points but Medal will always be the flagship.

The cream rises when every shot counts – when you can’t just pick up, shrug off a bad hole and still win a competition.

There’s an element of jeopardy at each shot, which only rises the closer it comes to the finish line. The result is always in doubt, one bad swing threatening to wreck your card. It’s golf at its finest. Hard. I love it.

My proudest moment in golf wasn’t winning the Stableford greensomes for which my name is on the board at my club, great though that was. It was winning a monthly Medal and scaling a summit that had taken 15 years to reach.

For me, it will always be my first love and nothing can match it.

‘Sometimes you just need that sweet relief’

I mean, who doesn’t love a bit of extra maths when it comes to working out their score, writes Alex Perry.

Golf is hard enough as it is and sometimes – just sometimes – we need a bit of a bail out. That bail out, in the case of Stableford, is the moment you can’t score and are able to pick up the ball.

Despite the frustration, it allows you a moment of sweet relief to avoid the embarrassment of running up a double digit score on a hole, and a moment to reset your brain before you head to the next tee.

Win a competition with a blob or three on the card? Who cares. It’s the same for everyone.

It’s like when football fans whinge about how unfair the play-offs are. You all know what you’re playing for from the start. It’s not like it was sprung on you with three games to go.

Where do you stand on the debate?

What do you think? Is it points all the way or every shot counts? Let us know in the comments, or tweet us.

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Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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