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AskThePros

Sandy Leach

by Q: What do slope and rating mean.....


"Could you please explain what slope and rating mean on a scorecard? How do holes on a course get handicapped?"   - Danny

      The USGA Slope Rating is a measurement of difficulty of a course for players who are not scratch golfers. The lowest Slope Rating is 55 and the highest is 155. A course of standard playing difficulty is 113.
      The USGA Course Rating is the mark that indicates the playing difficulty of a course for scratch golfers under normal 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.
      If your club where you post scores follows the USGA handicap systen, after at least 5 scores are posted, you should be issued a Handicap Index. The Handicap Index represents your potential scoring ability on a course of standard difficulty expressed as a number taken to one decimal place. This index allows you to convert your index to a Course Handicap based on the Slope Rating. A conversion chart should be provided by the club for this purpose.
     Holes on a course are generally handicapped by the clubs Handicap committee, Golf Committee, or Head Golf Professional. Because no formula can cover conditions on every golf course, the USGA relies on the good judgement of the club itself to poperly allocate handicap strokes.
     Believe it or not, the difficulty in making par on a hole is not an effective indicator of the need for a stroke. Rather, it should be based on the principle of equalizing the abilities of golfers at different handicap levels. In other words, the lower handicap holes (hardest holes) should provide a handicap stroke on a hole where it is most likely needed for the higher handicapped player to tie the lower handicapped player. This is why you see the lowest handicap holes generally on the par 5s or long par 4s. The longer the distance of a hole, the more strokes that are taken - giving the higher handicapped golfers more opportunity to make a mistake.
     In conclusion, this is a very good question Danny. I highly recommend everyone read the USGA Handicap System manual to further their understanding of why golf is one of the few games where people of vast playing differences can compete against one another equitably.
- Sandy Leach, Head Pro, formely @ Marietta CC

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