Course Rating – How It Affects You

Course Rating – How it Affects You

Over time, obstacles change on every golf course. Trees grow bigger (or are blown down in a major storm), rough height changes, green speeds fluctuate. Mowing patterns change the width of fairways. Ponds are expanded. New tees add or remove yardage. Because of these changes and the fact that the USGA Course Rating System is updated every four years, all courses are required to be re-rated at least once every 10 years.  If they don’t get re-rated, then the USGA can invalidate the rating and the club can no longer issue USGA Handicap Indexes or hold Net events at the course.

Sometimes, the change to the Course and Slope Ratings are minor. On occasion, that change can be pretty big.

Typically, a team of twelve Course Rating volunteers are needed to assess the Golf Course. In this instances, and as a result of the information gathered that day, all of the Course and Slope Ratings were raised substantially. For example, the Men’s rating for the White tee went from 68.9/119 to 69.5/129.

The new rating was a cumulative effect of several changes. Since the previous rating in 2004, rough height and green speed have been increased, trees have grown to become greater impact, out of bounds have been added to several holes where housing has crept in, and some minor yardage changes have occurred over the years. Each one of these factors individually has a minor affect on the course rating. All together, it’s a pretty big jump.

The bigger impact would be to players who post their scores more frequently. Eventually, the Handicap Index for these players will begin to go down. This concept is a bit inverse to how most people understand how handicaps and course rating work together.

Think about this. If Bob shoots the same score at a golf course that is rated lower as he does at a golf course that is rated higher, the course that is rated higher will have a lower Differential. Bob’s Handicap Index is calculated using the 10 lowest Differentials of his 20 most recent scores.  What is a Differential?

Handicap Differential = (Adjusted Gross Score – Course Rating) X 113/ Slope Rating

While Course Handicaps will go up to reflect that the course now plays more difficult than it did 8 years ago, the players who play here on a regular basis will find their Handicap Indexes will begin to go down since they are in effect, playing a more difficult course, with the same scores.

Questions on handicapping, course rating or slope? Email us at

Southern Nevada Golf Association
8010 W. Sahara Ave. Suite 160
Las Vegas, NV 89117

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