Most of the people I golf with are pretty knowledgeable about the game and the rules of golf. It’s almost impossible to slip anything by them, especially if there’s a quarter on the line.
But I’m always surprised at the misunderstanding among golfers about the meanings of the terms “Course Rating” and “Slope”. I’ve even heard a very experienced golfer refer to the topography of a course when discussing slope.Read More>>
To understand the difference between the terms, and how the numbers for them are derived, it’s important to understand how Golf Canada and the USGA define “Scratch Golfer” and “Bogey Golfer”
A “Scratch Golfer” is defined “as a player who can play to a Course Handicap of zero on any and all rated golf courses”. For rating purposes a male scratch golfer is one who “can hit tee shots 250 yards and can reach a 470 yard hole in two shots at sea level”. A female scratch golfer is one who “can hit tee shots an average of 210 yards and can reach a 400 yard hole in two shots at sea level”.
A male “Bogey Golfer” is one who “has a course handicap of approximately 20 on a course of standard difficulty. For rating purposes 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” has a Course Handicap of 24 on a course of standard difficulty. For rating purposes she can hit tee shots an average of 150 yards and can reach a 280 yard hole in two shots at sea level”.
Got it so far?
The Course Rating, then, is Golf Canada’s “evaluation of the playing difficulty of a course under normal course and weather conditions” – based on the play of scratch golfers. Most of the rating is based on yardage, but other obstacles are considered as well. Course rating is an indicator of the raw difficulty of the golf course.
Once the Course Rating is established, a “Bogey Rating” is developed. The “Bogey Rating” is an “evaluation of the playing difficulty for the Bogey Golfer” [as defined above] It is based on yardage and other obstacles to the extent that they affect the scoring ability of the bogey golfer.
The Slope Rating is “computed from the difference between the Bogey Rating and the Course Rating”. Slope Rating is a measurement of the relative difficulty of a course for players who are not scratch golfers compared to the Course Rating.
The lowest Slope Rating is 55 and the highest 155. A course of standard difficulty has a slope rating of 113. A bit of trivia – Why 113? – because average scores increase by 1.13 strokes for every increase of 1 stroke of handicap.
It’s quite possible, and is sometimes the case, for a golf course, which is more difficult i.e. higher “Course Rating” to have a lower “Slope” than an easier Golf Course with a lower Course Rating. This is because of placement for bunkers, trees, green target and other factors. In some cases a Bogey Golfer just needs a little more help to keep up with a Scratch Golfer – even on a course of lower raw difficulty. If you’re still confused by all this, check out the Golf Canada Handicap Manual at http://golfcanada.ca/app/uploads/2016/02/2016-Handicap-Manual-6×9-ENG-FA-web.pdf