It is clear that Golf as a sport and particularly at club level needs to become more dynamic and adapt to the changing social sphere. Although we are increasing our membership the overall decrease Nationally is fairly well reported and well documented in the English Golf Unions recent clubs survey.
So it is interesting to read that HowDidIDo that contains and runs over 2000 clubs weekly competitions, including ours, is reporting an increase in competitive rounds, especially stableford formats. First used in 1898 informally then competitively in 1932 the stableford scoring system appears to be making a significant move on its medal rival. While there is a 4% increase in competition participation for all sections, for gents, medal rounds slightly increased by 1% compared to a healthy 5% in stableford rounds. Nationally HowDidIDo have reported that in 2015 compared to 2013 there has been an extra 200,000 stableford rounds with medal rounds actually decreasing by 11,000.
Stableford is well associated with Dr Frank Stableford, he created a more forgiving format that allowed players an opportunity to complete their round and still be competitive even if they recorded a large score at one hole, medal is not so forgiving. The format was first played at courses which attracted terrible weather conditions that would otherwise have frustrated and put players off completing their round. Players were in a better frame of mind knowing that although some holes seemed impossible, utilising Stroke Indexes, players now had a chance of catching up with the rest of the field after a disaster.
So clearly more stableford events are being run at clubs but does this mean the format will eventually replace medal comps? Well the numbers alone do not paint a full picture as to whether the growth in stableford is due to it replacing medal events or driving the creation of new events. While clearly a great popular format, will stableford ever replace medal events steeped in history or create new events, will we see monthly stablefords instead of medals, or possibly see scratch stableford comps, only time and appetite will tell.