USGA Course and Slope Rating System
As authorized by the USGA, the KGA has an exclusive license to provide Course Rating services to courses in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. These services are managed in accordance with the USGA Course and Slope Rating System and are provided at no additional charge to member clubs. Precise USGA Course and Slope Ratings are provided for each set of tees at our member clubs so all members can enjoy the benefits of an accurate and equitable Handicap Index. When a golf course is rated, the rating team, using a prescribed USGA methodology, evaluates the overall difficulty of the golf course by taking into account the 10 obstacles and effective length corrections on every hole. They give a numerical evaluation of all obstacles on each hole – topography, fairway, green target, recovery and rough, bunkers, out of bounds, water, trees, green surface, and psychology – and use those numbers to calculate a rating.
The Association relies on the assistance of volunteers to makeup the course rating teams and each candidate receives extensive training in the complexities of slope and course ratings. During the “rating season” which runs from March through October, the teams are involved in re-rating all clubs in the KGA and conducting initial ratings for new clubs requesting the service.
For more information or questions regarding your course rating and slope or becoming a course rater volunteer, please reach out to Alec Bahnick, PGA - Handicapping and Course Rating Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org or 502.912.9606.
Course Rating Definitions
The following are terms essential to the USGA Course Rating System:
Scratch Golfer: A male scratch golfer is a player who can play to a Course Handicap of zero on any and all rated golf courses. A male scratch golfer, for rating purposes, can hit tee shots an average of 250 yards and can reach a 470-yard hole in two shots at sea level. A female scratch golfer is a player who can play to a Course Handicap of zero on any and all rated golf courses. A female scratch golfer, for rating purposes, can hit tee shots an average of 210 yards and can reach a 400-yard hole in two shots at sea level.
USGA Course Rating: A USGA Course Rating is the evaluation of the playing difficulty of a course for scratch golfers under normal course and weather conditions. It is expressed as the number of strokes taken to one decimal place (72.5), and is based on yardage and other obstacles to the extent that they affect the scoring difficulty of the scratch golfer.
Bogey Golfer: A male bogey golfer is a player who has a Course Handicap™ of approximately 20 on a course of standard difficulty. He can hit tee shots an average of 200 yards and can reach a 370-yard hole in two shots at sea level. A female bogey golfer is a player who has a Course Handicap of approximately 24 on a course of standard difficulty. She can hit tee shots an average of 150 yards and can reach a 280-yard hole in two shots at sea level.
Bogey Rating™: A Bogey Rating is the evaluation of the playing difficulty of a course for bogey golfers under normal course and weather conditions. It is expressed as the number of strokes taken to one decimal place (92.1), and is based on yardage and other obstacles to the extent that they affect the scoring difficulty of the bogey golfer.
Slope Rating®: A Slope Rating is the USGA® mark that indicates the measurement of the relative playing difficulty of a course for players who are not scratch golfers, compared to scratch golfers. It is computed from the difference between the Bogey Rating and the USGA Course Rating times a constant factor and is expressed as a whole number from 55 to 155.
Course Rating FAQ's
What is a "Course Rating"?
A USGA Course Rating is the evaluation of the playing difficulty of a course compared with other rated courses for the purpose of providing a uniform standard by which to compute USGA Handicap Indexes. A USGA Course Rating is equal to the average of the better half of a scratch golfer's scores under normal conditions.
What is a "Slope Rating"?
A USGA Slope Rating reflects the relative difficulty of a course for players with USGA Handicap Indexes above scratch, compared with the difficulty of the course for a scratch golfer.
How often should a course be rated?
A course must be re-rated at least every ten years, even if it has not changed in any way. Newly constructed courses change rapidly in the first few years, and should be rated once every three years for the first nine years.
What factors are used in Course Rating?
• Yardage is the predominant factor in determining a USGA Course Rating.
• The effective playing length of a hole may be substantially different from its actual length, which includes roll, elevation, dogleg/forced lay-up, prevailing wind and altitude.
• Obstacle factors (bunkers, water, trees, etc.) are considered separately on their effect on the play of scratch and bogey on each hole.
What is the new minimum length requirement be for a course and/or set of tees to be issued a Course Rating and Slope Rating?
The World Handicap System has approved a low-end limit for courses to be issued a Course Rating and Slope Rating of 1,500 yards for 18-holes or 750 yards for 9-holes. This is a reduction from the current minimums of 3,000 yards for 18-holes and 1,500 yards for 9-holes.
As a result, shorter golf courses (mostly par-3 courses) will qualify for a Course Rating and Slope Rating if desired.