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Course Rating Definitions

Scratch Golfer – A player who can play to a Course Handicap of zero on any and all rated golf courses.

Bogey Golfer – A player who has a Course Handicap of approximately 20 for men and 24 for women on a course of standard difficulty.

Bogey Rating – The USGA’s mark of 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.

Slope Rating – The USGA’s mark that indicates the measurement of the relative difficulty of a course for players who are not scratch golfers compared to the difficulty of a course for scratch golfers. A Slope Rating is computed from the difference between the Bogey Rating and the USGA Course Rating. The lowest Slope Rating is 55 and the highest is 155. A golf course of standard playing difficulty has a Slope Rating of 113.

Obstacles – Features of golf courses that affects its playing difficulty and are determined at each landing zone for both scratch and bogey golfers. Examples of obstacles include:

  • Topography – is an evaluation of the impact of terrain on play such as slopes and mounds that affect stance and/or lie, or the shot to the green is uphill or downhill.
  • Fairway – is an evaluation of the difficulty of keeping the ball in the fairway from tee to green. Fairway ratings are based on fairway width in all landing zones; hole length; and nearby trees, penalty areas and punitive rough.
  • Green Target – is an evaluation of the difficulty of hitting the green with the approach shot and is based on green size; approach shot length; and green surface visibility and firmness.
  • Recoverability and Rough – is an evaluation of the probability of missing the tee shot landing zone and the green, and the difficulty of recovering if either, or both, is missed. Values are based on the general height of the rough grass on the hole.
  • Bunkers – is an evaluation of how bunkers come into play and how difficult they are to recover from based on the number of bunkers, and bunker size and depth.
  • Penalty Area Crossings – is an evaluation of crossing penalty areas or out of bounds/extreme rough, taking into consideration the length of the shot to carry the obstacle safely.
  • Penalty Area Lateral – is an evaluation of lateral penalty areas or lateral OB/Extreme Rough, taking into consideration the length of the shot and the distance of the obstacle from the center of the landing zone.
  • Trees – must be rated by evaluating the overall impact of the trees on the play of the hole. Difficulty factors include, number, height and density, and length of shot to the target landing zone or green, and conditions under the trees that impact the lie of the ball.
  • Green Surface – is an evaluation of the difficulty of a green from a putting standpoint based on green speed and green surface contouring and slope or tilt.
  • Psychological – is an evaluation of the cumulative effect of the obstacles on a player’s score.

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