Course Rating FAQs

Q: What is SLOPE?

A: Most golfers believe that the higher the Slope Rating, the more difficult the golf course. This may or may not be true, depending on what level of golfer you are. The Slope Rating for a golf course tells you how difficult the golf course is for a bogey player (about a 20 handicap for a male golfer) compared to a scratch player. The higher the Slope Rating, the harder the course is for the bogey golfer, relative to the difficulty of the course for the scratch golfer. Slope Ratings can range anywhere between 55 and 155, with the average slope rating in the United States being approximately 120.

The Slope Rating is used to convert your Handicap Index into a Course Handicap. This allows the player to receive enough strokes from a particular set of tees to play at the same level as a scratch golfer from the same set of tees.

When your course is rated, a scratch rating and bogey rating are both determined from each set of tees. The scratch rating is the same idea as the Course Rating only for the Bogey golfer. From both the bogey rating and the scratch rating, a formula is used to determine the Slope Rating. 

Q: Who rates a course?

A: An experienced LGA staff member, trained under the USGA’s Course Rating System, leads the LGA’s Course Rating Team. All licensed golf associations have been trained to use the exact same processes as set forth by the USGA.

There are approximately 20-25 volunteer committee members throughout Louisiana who assist the LGA staff in evaluating a course. Everyone on the committee has been trained in course rating procedures.

Q: How often is a course rated?

A: The USGA requires all authorized golf associations, including the LGA, to periodically review the ratings of their courses and to revise them if necessary. The LGA is required to re-rate a golf course within a 10-year period. All newly constructed golf courses change as they mature. The LGA rates these courses the year they open and then again three years after the first rating to account for these changes.

If there have been any significant changes to your course, the size of the greens have changed, greenside or fairway bunkers have been added or removed, or a new set of tees has been added, your course may be in need of a rating adjustment. The course probably does not need a full course rating, and an LGA representative can be sent to assess this. Any changes are entered into the USGA Course Rating Program to calculate an updated Course Rating and Slope Rating. 

Q: Why is our course rated the way it is?

A: Golf courses are rated based on the measured length of the course from each set of tees. The measured length of a particular set of tees is taken from the middle of the teeing ground to the center of the green.

Accurate permanent marker placement is essential to an accurate course rating. Permanent markers are to reflect the average placement of the movable tee markers. Permanent markers should be placed on the teeing ground at a spot where the movable tee markers can be placed on either side to consistently reflect the overall length of the hole and course.

Inaccurate placement of the tee markers is more likely to have a greater effect on a player’s handicap differential than any course obstacle. For instance, if a course consistently placed their movable tee markers in front of the permanent markers by an average of 10 yards per hole, the golf course would play almost one shot easier than the rating indicates. This practice would result in an artificially low Handicap Index.

The USGA recommends placing the permanent markers in the middle of every teeing ground. When two tees share one teeing ground, the teeing ground should be divided into thirds. This process maximizes the ability of the golf course to use the entire teeing area and gives the best chance of reflecting the overall yardage.

At no time should a permanent marker be less than three yards from the front or less than four yards from the back of a teeing area. Courses are encouraged to consult the LGA for assistance in determining accurate placement. 

Q: Who allocates handicap stroke for each hole?

A: The short answer is; the Club. The LGA does not assign hole by hole handicap strokes to individual holes as a result of the course rating process. The rating of your golf course will have no effect on which hole is more difficult, nor does the individual handicap selection process influence your overall Index. The allocation of handicap strokes is the responsibility of the club and can be accomplished through specific procedures.