Frequently Asked Questions about USGA standards on Course & Slope Ratings

Q: What is a Course Rating?

A: The USGA course rating is a numerical value given to each set of tees at a particular golf course to approximate the number of strokes it should take a scratch golfer to get around the course. A course rating of 71.8, for example, means that scratch golfers are expected to post an average score of 71.8 from that set of tees on that course. Most course ratings will range from the upper 60s to the mid 70s.

Q: What is a Slope Rating?

A: Slope rating (a term trademarked by the USGA) is a measurement of the difficulty of a course for bogey golfers relative to the course rating.

While a course rating tells scratch golfers how difficult the course will be; a slope rating tells bogey golfers how difficult it will be.The minimum slope is 55 and the maximum is 155 (slope does not relate specifically to strokes played as course rating does). The slope rating for a course of average difficulty is 113.

The most important role of slope is leveling the playing field for players of different skill levels. For example, let’s
say Player A and Player B average a score of 85 for 18 holes. But Player A’s average is established on a very difficult course (say, a slope rating of 145), while Player B’s average is established on a very easy course (say, a slope rating of 95). If handicaps were simply estimates of golfers’ average scores, then these two players would have the same handicap index. But Player A is clearly the better golfer, and in a match between the two Player B would clearly
need some strokes.

Slope rating allows the handicap index to reflect these factors. Because he plays on a course with a higher slope rating, Player A’s handicap index will be lower than Player B’s (when it is calculated using the slope ratings),
despite the fact that they both average scores of 85. So when A and B get together to play, B will get those extra strokes he needs.

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