PGA Tour event brings back popular Modified Stableford scoring format
The Reno-Tahoe Open is underway at the Montreux Golf & Country Club, a Jack Nicklaus Signature Course located in Reno, Nev. that is celebrating its 15th birthday this year. Players are not only vying for the title and their share of a $3 million purse, but this week they are resurrecting a scoring system that gained prominence and popularity for parts of three decades at The International, which was played–ironically–on Jack’s nationally ranked course at Castle Pines Golf Club in Colorado.
This week’s Reno-Tahoe Open is being scored in a Modified Stableford format that encourages and rewards aggressive play.
Rather than counting the total number of strokes taken as in typical stroke play golf, a Modified Stableford involves scoring points based on the number of strokes taken at each hole. Good play earns points and poor play takes them away. Unlike traditional scoring methods, where the aim is to have the lowest score, the objective in a Modified Stableford is to have the highest.
The number of points awarded on each hole is determined based on comparison of the number of strokes to par. Once a player has taken two strokes more than par, a double bogey, he may pick up his ball as it is then not possible to score any points on that hole and he cannot lose any additional points. He can then resume play on the next hole. Under the Modified Stableford format, it is still possible to be competitive even allowing for a few bad holes. At the end of the round, the number of points scored on each hole is totaled to give a final score.
The International, which was held from 1986 to 2006 at Castle Pines, had been the only tournament in PGA Tour history to use the Stableford scoring system until the Reno-Tahoe Open switched to it this year.
Rich Beem, who won The International in 2002 by one stroke over Steve Lowery, is in the field at the Reno-Tahoe Open this year and among many eager to revisit the scoring system.
“I’m happy to see it come anywhere (on Tour), but Reno is probably the perfect venue,” said Beem, adding, “It’s a lot like Castle Pines, a lot of holes where you have to ask yourself if you want to risk it, if you want to go for a par-5 in two or try to drive a par-4. It certainly changes how you want to play the golf course.”
Situated at an elevation of 5,500 feet, the par-72 course at Montreux offers breathtaking mountain views and is the only Jack Nicklaus Signature Course in northern Nevada. The signature “Bear Trap” is a dramatic trio of holes 6, 7 and 8, putting to test each competitor’s creativity and precision. In total, the course features 7,552 yards of golf. In 2011, it was ranked 26th in level of difficulty out of 51 courses on the Tour.
“Montreux is a very special piece of property,” Nickalus said. “It’s got great variety. With the great trees, streams, and mountains in the backdrop, it’s also a beautiful setting. It should be a fantastic place to play an event. It’s a strong golf course, a good golf course. It’s a course I’m very proud of, and I’m sure the players on the Tour will love playing it.”
The Reno-Tahoe open has been played at the Montreux Golf & Country Club consecutively since its inception in 1999, one year after Golf Digest voted it among the 10 Best New Private Courses for that year. The tournament is one of 16 PGA Tour-sanctioned events scheduled for Nicklaus courses this year. Montreux Golf & Country Club is one of close to 95 Nicklaus courses that have hosted a professional tournament worldwide.