What does slope and course rating mean in golf?

Many myths are there regarding the matter of slope and course rating while playing or learning about golf.

If you are just new in golf, maybe, only thing that you know about these two systems is that they determine the difficulty level of a course or how difficult the course is for golfers. But, is it the truth all the time?

If you are interested in learning the basics of slope and course rating, and how to do the calculation, then this article should be the solution.

Without making any further delays, let's get started.

What is the course rating

To be oversimplified, the definition that we all know about course rating is that it is the expected number of strokes that a scratch or professional golfer should take to complete the game. Most of the time, it is near the par score.

To understand the term better, follow the bullet points down below.

  • Suppose, you are playing in an 18 hole course that is marked with a par hole score of 72. In that case, the course rating might be around 71.2
  • The course rating can change with the difficulty level of the course.
  • Any golf course can have three or more course rating because the course rating is measured from the perspective of different tees. A player playing from the men’s blue tees might get a score around 72.6, and the same player playing from the men’s white tees might get a course rating around 71.0. On the other hand, the ladies red tees might mark with a course rating of around 73.4.

What is slope rating

To be simplified, if the course rating is the term that determines the difficulty level of a course to the scratch golfers, then the slope rating is going to notify us about the difficulty level of a course to the bogey golfers. Or, it is the expected number of strokes that a bogey golfer should take to complete the game.

Follow the bullet points down below to get a better knowledge about slope rating.

  • The slope rating is always going to be a two or three-digit integer.
  • According to the USGA, the slope rating is going to be between 55 and 155.
  • The average slope rating is 113, which is according to the USGA, the standard one.
  • Slope rating is also measured by keeping the perspective of different tees. That means the blue men’s tees might be marked with a course slope of 123, whereas the white men’s tees might be marked with 119. On the other hand, the red tees might be marked with 114.

Some of the important definitions to understand the rating

In case you don’t know the definition of the par golfer/scratch golfer or bogey golfer, the rating system may not make any sense to you. Let’s have a look at the definition of both these two terms to understand the rating system better.

  • Par golfer or scratch golfer are those players who, most of the time, consistently shoot par for the course. That means the par hole score of the course and the number of strokes that the players take tend to be equal.
  •   On the other hand, bogey golfers are those golfers who all the time shoots over the par score. That means, the number of strokes that a bogey golfer needs to complete the game tends to be much more than the par hole scores.

The slope is not the measurement of the course difficulty

This is the most common misconception that most of us keep in mind thinking that the slope rating actually determines the difficulty of the course. But, in reality, that is not the case at all. Down below is three examples that will make it clear for you to understand.

  • Suppose a scratch golfer and a bogey golfer is playing in the course A. it is a 72 par course. And, the scratch golfer completes the game by scoring 72. But, the bogey gofer requires 90 to complete the game.
  • Now, imagine, they both are playing in another course B. in this course, the scratch golfer requires 68 to complete the course, whereas the bogey golfer requires around 86. Now, if you compare both these two incidents, you might say that they both are identical, and as a result, the slope rating should suggest the difficulty level of a course. But, down below is another incident that can raise some questions...
  • Now, in that course, which is C, the scratch golfer requires as usual around 68 strokes to complete the game, but the bogey golfer requires around 111 to complete the game. if now, you look at the differences between the number of strokes that these two players have taken, then you would find a huge marginal difference.

Why is that? Because the slope rating only determines the difficulty of a course depending on the handicap level of a player. The lackings of experience and enough professionalism can be the reason in that case. In whatever course, a par or scratch golfer is playing; he is bound to take the same number of the par score.

How to calculate the slope rating

According to the rules and regulations of the USGA, there are two procedures to measure the slope rating. The first is for the men and the second one is for the women.

  • For men: 5.381X(Bogey rating- USGA course rating)
  • For women: 4.24X(Bogey rating- USGA course rating)

How the USGA do the rating

It requires a long time processing. USGA tracks more than 100 rounds of game in a single course of different tees both of the bogey golfers and scratch golfers. Be keeping all the information in the computer database, they do the actual calculation.

But, still, a course needs to mark again in every 1 or 2 years because the terrain of the course never remains the same.

Final words

From now on, the myths or misconceptions should not baffle you again. Remember that slope rating is not the difficulty level of the course rather it suggests how difficult the course is going to be for a bogey golfer.

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