USGA Course Rating System


Each hole is analysed for factors affecting playing difficulty in the areas where various levels of players are likely to land and the true (effective) playing length of the hole.

The Effective Playing Length of a hole is impacted by 5 factors:

  • Roll
  • Change in elevation
  • Doglegs and layup
  • Wind
  • Altitude

10 obstacle factors are taken into account:

  • Topography
  • Fairway Width
  • Green Target
  • Recoverability and Rough
  • Bunkers
  • Out of Bounds (OB)/Extreme Rough
  • Water Hazards
  • Trees
  • Green surface
  • Psychological or visual impact

Values are attached to the impact of the above factors and, with detailed calculations, a Course Rating and a Slope Rating is determined for each set of Tees on a course (i.e. Blue, White, Red, etc). All the Tees present were measured for men and 2-3 tees were measured for ladies.


How will Slope make things fairer?

Generally speaking, a higher handicapped player (Bogey Golfer) finds it harder to adjust to a difficult course than a low handicapper does. The Slope Rating adjustments will play a balancing role. For example, if the Yellow Tees are harder than the White Tees, a high Handicapped player may play the Yellow Tees off a handicap of 28 and the White Tees off 24. The elite player finds it easier to adjust, so they may play the Yellow Tees off 4 and the White Tees off 3. This is fairer than having the difference between the elite player’s handicap and the high-handicap player always staying the same.

Slope is the great equaliser and most golfers will get extra shots when they play courses that are relatively more difficult for them than for the scratch golfer.

The Slope rating is expressed as a numerical value where the lowest number is 55 and the highest is 155. The Neutral Slope Rating is 113. The higher the number the greater the relative difficulty of the course.