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Course Rating FAQ

Course Rating System Principals

Q. What is the Course Rating, bogey rating, and Slope Rating?
A. Course Rating defines the USGA mark indicating the evaluation of the playing difficulty of a course for scratch golfers under normal course and weather conditions. It is expressed as strokes taken to one decimal place, and is based on yardage and other obstacles to the extent that they affect the scoring ability of a scratch golfer. Course Rating is equivalent to the better half average of a scratch golfer’s scores under normal playing conditions.

Bogey Rating is the evaluation of the playing difficulty of a course for the bogey golfer under normal course and weather conditions. It is based on yardage, effective playing length and other obstacles to the extent that they affect the scoring ability of the bogey golfer. Bogey rating is equivalent to the better half average of a bogey golfer’s scores under normal playing conditions.

Slope Rating defines the USGA mark indicating the measurement of the relative difficulty of a course for non-scratch golfers compared to the Course Rating. Slope Rating is computed by the following formula:
Bogey rating - Course Rating x (5.381 men, 4.24 women) = Slope Rating

Course Rating Obstacle Factors

Q. What obstacles are accounted for through the USGA Course Rating evaluation process?
A. The USGA Course Rating system is setup to identify the effect of the following (10) obstacles on both a Scratch and Bogey golfer on a hole by hole basis.

  • Topography: Stance and lie problems 
  • Fairway: Width of the fairway in the projected landing zones 
  • Green Target: Difficulty of hitting the green surface on an approach shot 
  • Rough & Recovery: Difficulty of recovery from areas off the fairway
  • Bunkers: Fairway bunkers that are in proximity to landing zones as well as greenside bunkers 
  • Out of Bounds: Effect of OB on the players based upon shot length and distance to OB
  • Water: Effect of water on players based upon shot length and distance lateral or to carry water 
  • Trees/Desert: How trees or desert come into play and the recovery factor is a player is in them
  • Green Surface: Difficulty of putting on the green surface, determined through speed and contour 
  • Psychological: Gross mental effect that the significance of obstacles can have on a player 

Re-evaluation of golf courses 

Q. How often are courses rerated?
A. Authorized Golf Associations who are licensed to evaluate courses in their region and issue USGA Course Ratings are expected to rate each course within their jurisdiction a minimum of once every 10 years to assure the values being utilized are an accurate reflection of the course difficulty. For newly constructed courses, the USGA Rating System requires that the Authorized Golf Association rate the course every 5 years for the first 10 years of existence. Aside from this standard rerate rotation; if a course undergoes significant renovation or changes that would greatly affect the day to day difficulty, the course should contact the local Authorized Golf Association to find out if the Course Rating & Slope values should be revised.

USGA Course Rating Teams

Q. Who is responsible for rating the golf courses using the USGA Course Rating System?
A. Only Authorized Golf Associations are licensed by the USGA to rate golf courses and assign Course Rating and Slope values. Typically, the individuals who compose the rating team(s) for each Authorized Golf Association are composed of both volunteers and Association staff. In order to take part as a rating team member, individuals need to go through a training process to assure a high level of knowledge of the standards of the USGA Rating System. Highly trained rating team members will proficiently be able to evaluate golf courses using the standard Course Rating System and produce accurate values for use in future score postings to the handicap system.