The Golf Australia website has a downloadable information sheet setting out a number of different types of golf competition. Also provided are scoring instructions where appropriate. In some aspects, St Leonards Rules provide for a different procecedure to that set out in the Golf Australia instructions (for example, method of deciding a winner in a match play tie), but if you're one for maintaining a wide ranging awareness of golfing related material, it's well worth a look (current as at 13SEP2017):

Tallying strokes in a game of golf is just one form of competition. A feature of golf is that it offers the opportunity for enjoyable competition between players of differing abilities through its system of handicaps. Handicaps are applied to a player’s tally of strokes to obtain a score. This is achieved using indexes provided (usually) on each course’s scorecard.

Those indexes are
        the Stroke Index (also commonly known as the Handicap Index and sometimes just as the Index), and
        the Match Index.

Stroke Index

The Stroke Index ranks all holes on a course in order of difficulty.

The Stroke Index dictates for each course the order of the holes over which handicap strokes are allocated.

Expressed crudely, a player with a handicap of 1 gets the advantage of their handicap stroke on the most difficult hole on the course.

In principle, a player receiving advantage by way of handicap strokes applies that advantage to the most difficult holes on a course (as judged by the course administrators), moving successively towards the less difficult holes until the handicap advantage is exhausted. To further illustrate, a player with a handicap of 6 receives a one-stroke advantage on the six most difficult holes of the eighteen holes on a course.

After the initial ranking of the 18 holes in order, a second round of ranking is provided, re-ordering the holes differently to the first round of ranking. This is shown in the Stroke Index by setting the two ranking numbers side by side, separated by a single slash. The first number ranks the holes in an order that applies to handicaps in the range 1 to 18 while the second re-ranks the holes in an order that applies for handicaps of 19 and above.

The second round of ranking is provided for higher handicaps because players receiving more than one stroke for a hole would otherwise receive a compounded advantage that could be seen as unfair, particularly if, for example, a 3-par hole ranked high on the order of difficulty were to retain that high position on the second round of ranking and thus attract a second handicap stroke before 4 or 5-par holes on which the compounded, second-stroke advantage is not as great in comparison. Fine tuning is provided for the otherwise blunt instrument of handicapping, by moving the 3-par holes down the order of difficulty for players on handicaps of 19 or more who receive two handicap strokes on some or all holes. The benefit of two strokes, particularly on a 3-par hole, is ameliorated as against the benefit of one stroke on the same hole, by moving that hole lower down the order of difficulty for longer-handicapped players, so it will only apply to players with handicaps further towards the longest extreme.

Match index

The match index is used in head-to-head match play encounters. Of the two players' handicaps, the lower figure is subtracted from the higher figure with the result being the number of holes on which advantage strokes are allocated to the longer-handicapped player. The order of holes over which the strokes are allocated is found from the match index.

The match index may be shown as an additional column alongside the stroke play details, but is not uncommonly found as a table beneath the main scoring area or on the back cover of the card. In some cases it may not appear on a card at all.

Match indexes are very frequently exactly the same from course to course. Even where they differ, a common feature of match indexes is the alternate ranking of inward holes and outward holes.

The match index attempts to distribute handicap strokes evenly over a course and certainly as between the outward nine and the inward nine. One of its aims is to prevent a situation where a large difference in handicaps can bring about an outcome determined by an advantageous weight of handicap early in a game providing insufficient scoring opportunity for the lower-handicapped player until later in the match by which time the result might already have been determined by dint of insufficient holes remaining for the lower-handicapped player to redress the glut of advantage already received by a longer-handicapped player.

It is a St Leonards Rule that, for a St Leonards match play game played at a course whose scorecard does not show a match play index, our players should use for their match play scoring the St Leonards Standard Match Play Index, which is based on the standard match play index used by the majority of golf clubs.



Using Stableford scoring, points are awarded for scores near or better than par. Stableford helps avoid player fatigue by allowing a player to pick up their ball once it has become impossible for them to score Stableford points for a hole. This also encourages efficient movement of groups through the golf course, avoiding log jams caused by the need to continue stroking until balls are sunk.

Holing a ball for par is worth two Stableford points. Making par on every hole of a course is thus worth (18 x 2 =) 36 Stableford points. Employing golf's handicap system, 36 Stableford points is the benchmark score for all players.

While two Stableford points are awarded for par, one point is awarded for a bogie. A double bogie scores zero points. This is the point at which a player should pick up their ball. A score of zero is termed a “wipe”. If a player picks up their ball before reaching that point they still score zero and record the number of strokes they would have played if reaching a (handicap modified) double bogie, or “wipe”, in Stableford parlance, for the hole.

For a worthwhile video tutorial on the Stableford scoring system, click>><<here. WARNING! you'll need about 15 minutes.

When there is no pressure from following groups, within our club and with the agreement of other players in a group, players are permitted to stroke as long as courtesy and consideration permit in order to hole out, thus maximising the practice value of their green time. For scoring purposes, however, the limit is the wipe and the number of strokes required to get that far.

Simultaneous Stableford & Match Play

Playing Stableford and Match Play at the same time requires one to keep track of the differing number of handicap strokes one is likely to get on a particular hole, under the stroke index (for Stableford scoring) and the match index (for match play).

To accurately reflect the match play outcome and also keep track of your Stableford points, different handicap stroke allocations under the different systems applying must be taken into account.

So far as writing your result on the scorecard, you must record your strokes and Stableford scores, but there is an exception to this in the case of match play competitors exceeding their Stableford “wipe” score before the match play outcome for the hole is determined by someone sinking their ball. If both players have wiped a hole but still not sunk their ball, they keep going, if necessary, until they have had 10 shots each. If no one has sunk their ball, only then is that hole “halved” for match play purposes.

On the other hand, if one of the players wins, but (for Stableford) has wiped the hole — what do they write on the card? After all, their Stableford score could be lower than their match play score. The answer is: the match play score. Mr Handicapper will adjust the scores when he updates the handicap records. The reason is to make sure it is clear who the winner of the hole is. That means it is possible that you could record a ten – a wipe (“10/–”) on a par 3!