fbpx
stableford

What Stableford penalties can you face in the Rules of Golf?

Too many clubs? Late to the tee, unreasonably delaying play? Learn more about the Stableford Rules, golf penalties and what’s changing in 2023.

 

Have you ever found yourself with 15 clubs in the bag, or started your round too late? If you were taking part in a Stableford, it wasn’t as simple as simply putting zero points on your scorecard for the offending hole.

There was a convoluted process required to process some Stableford penalties in the 2019 Rules of Golf but, as when the 2023 edition was unveiled, they were completely revamped.

Here we explain what changed.

What did the old rule say about Stableford penalties?

Penalty strokes in Stableford were normally added in the same way as stroke play – on the holes where the breach occurred – but Rule 21.1c had three exceptions: excess, shared, added or replaced clubs; time of starting; and unreasonable delay of play.

In those circumstances, points for a breach were deducted from the player’s total points for the round and those deductions were applied by the committee.

If a player fell foul of one of these, they were compelled to report the facts about the breach to the committee before returning their scorecard so the penalty could be applied. If they didn’t do that, they were disqualified.

What does the rule now say about Stableford penalties?

Rule 21.1c was amended at the start of 2023 so those penalties are now applied to the hole in the same way as regular stroke play. So, for example, having 15 clubs in your bag in stroke play would mean adding two penalty strokes for each hole where a breach happened, up a maximum of four penalty strokes in the round.

This amendment also applies to the same penalties in Par/Bogey competitions as well.

After applying any penalty strokes, a player’s Stableford score for a hole “cannot be lower than zero points”.

stableford golf rules

What was the R&A view on the change?

Grant Moir, the R&A’s director of rules, said of the changes: “There was a good reason for it. If you applied it as a normal stroke play – let’s assume if it was the first and second holes [and carrying 15 clubs] – there could be a situation where if the player didn’t score any points on those holes then there was, in effect, no penalty for carrying 15 clubs.

“But we decided, in terms of simplicity, ‘let’s just apply the Rule as it was intended in stroke play’.

“So if somebody [scores] a four on the 1st hole, and they have 15 clubs, they get a six and whether that results in points or no points – it’s just like any other hole in Stableford.

“I’m not sure it will have a massive impact on the game but it certainly used to blow a few people’s minds and so I think it’s a good change.”

NCG Verdict

If you’re preaching the Rules are simpler then it obviously helps to have a uniform penalty procedure – where possible – no matter what the format is.

It was confusing, when a player breached any of the old exceptions to Rule 21.1c, to understand when the penalty applied and whose responsibility it was to apply it.

Was it two strokes, or was it two points? Do I deduct it from this hole, or from the total? These days, it’s straight forward. It’s the responsibility of the player to apply the penalty, and it’s adding strokes to your score for the hole.

Some may vent at the examples – where a player’s poor performance on two holes effectively cancels out the sanction for breaching a rule.

But it’s much clearer overall and, in the heat of a competition round, that’s all anyone wants from the Rules.

What do you think about the changes to these Stableford golf rules? Let me know with a tweet.

More on the 2023 Rules of Golf update

We went through every update to make sure you have everything you need to know about the biggest changes, from penalties in Stableford, handicaps on scorecards, back-on-the-line relief, and much, much more.

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.

Latest Posts

rules of golf mistakes

Rules of Golf

5 Rules of Golf mistakes you’re all making

By

Read full article about 5 Rules of Golf mistakes you’re all making
2023 Rules of Golf changes replacing golf ball on spot

Rules of Golf

England Golf extend period for preferred lies

By

Read full article about England Golf extend period for preferred lies
rules beginner

Rules of Golf

What are the key rules beginner golfers should know?

By

Read full article about What are the key rules beginner golfers should know?
Want to play the same game as the pros? That means playing the same Rules!

Rules of Golf

Want to play the same game as the pros? That means playing the same Rules!

By

Read full article about Want to play the same game as the pros? That means playing the same Rules!
gary woodland

Rules of Golf

Can you look into a player’s bag to see what club they’re using?

By

Read full article about Can you look into a player’s bag to see what club they’re using?
winter rules

Rules of Golf

5 Winter Rules Golfers Break!

By

Read full article about 5 Winter Rules Golfers Break!
golf divot

Rules of Golf

My ball has landed on a divot – can I move it?

By

Read full article about My ball has landed on a divot – can I move it?
animal scrapings

Rules of Golf

Do I get free relief from animal scrapings?

By

Read full article about Do I get free relief from animal scrapings?
penalty area in golf

I think I’m in a penalty area but it’s not marked – can I get free relief?

By

Read full article about I think I’m in a penalty area but it’s not marked – can I get free relief?