Fairway Notebook: Rating Courses Explained
I play golf each week with my friend Marge Tovey, who is a rating captain, along with her male counterpart, Frank Young, for the Carolinas Golf Association.
There are 22 teams in North Carolina that do rating, all volunteers, with Marge and Frank covering the Sandhills.
Captains and teams are trained by the USGA and the CGA. They apply all USGA rating rules by measuring 14 obstacles on each hole for two different golfers - a scratch and a bogey player. The process is highly mathematical. It involves determining numbers between zero and 10 for each obstacle on all 18 holes.
That adds up to more than 480 rating numbers a team determines for each set of tees.
Before arriving at the club, the team reviews information provided by Michael Dann, Assistant Director of Course Rating and Handicapping for the CGA.
Course rating used to be based almost solely on length. The longer the course, the higher the rating. However, obstacles as well as distance are now part of the consideration. The course rating system was first used in 1988, 22 years ago, and all raters use the same system and methodology across the United States.
The USGA wants a course rated when new, then in three years and, after that, every eight to 10 years unless changes have been made.
A scratch golfer is defined by the USGA as a male golfer who hits his drive 250 yards and can reach a 470-yard hole in two strokes, or a female golfer who hits her drive 210 yards and can reach a 400-yard hole in two. A bogey golfer is defined by the USGA as a male golfer with a handicap index of 17.5 to 22.4 who hits his drive 200 yards and can reach a 370-yard hole in two, or a female golfer with a handicap index of 21.5 to 26.4 who hits her drive 150 yards and can reach a 280-yard hole in two.
The rating teams go to these various points on each hole and evaluate, numerically, the obstacles in play at each position. Four factors are yardage-related, such as the change in elevation from tee to green, the amount of bounce or roll on a tee shot and the change in shot values on lay-up or dogleg holes.
Obstacle stroke value is a numerical rating of the difficulty presented by obstacles on the course, and they are: topography; easiness or difficulty of hitting the fairway; probability of hitting the green from the fairway landing area; difficulty of bunkers and probability of hitting into them; probability of hitting out of bounds; how much water will come into play; how trees affect play; speed and contouring of the greens; and the psychological effect of all of these.
These evaluations are made from every set of tees for scratch and bogey golfers. The team then follows the USGA's four formulas (male scratch golfer, female scratch golfer, male bogey golfer, female bogey golfer) and captains obtain the numbers from all team members, complete the forms and return them to Michael Dann at the CGA office, where they are reviewed and entered into the USGA computer program to determine course and slope ratings for each set of tees, complete with nine-hole ratings.
Only when all is finished will the course know what its rating will be. The slope number represents the relative difficulty of a course for bogey golfers compared with scratch golfers. The calculation that determines slope is this: bogey course rating minus USGA course rating times 5.381 for men or 4.24 for women.
Like course rating, slope rating is calculated for each set of tees. The slope rating presents a level playing field for golfers of different skill levels.
Golfers may post the same scores at different home courses, let's say an 85. However, one of them plays a difficult course with a slope of 133 and the other plays an easy course with a slope of 95. The player from the more difficult course will have a lower index, therefore, the player from the easier course, with a higher index, will get the strokes needed for a more balanced match.
As an example, you will find the rating and slope numbers on each card for each set of tees, the rating number first then the slope, and it may look like this - White = 70.8 /124 and Red = 72.2 /126.
Marge Tovey and Frank Young and their teams consider their efforts a combination of work and having fun at the same time.
Speaking of fun, here are the results from the last few weeks.
Longleaf: The Men's Golf Association played two best balls of the foursome on Jan. 20 and the winners, at 18-under par, were Richard Hallman, John Koubek, George Ryan and Ed Rowland.
Pinehurst: The Chippers played on Jan. 21 in a low net contest. The winners: Ann Kastl, 39; Carol Wyatt, 40; Sandra MacQueen and Pat Smith tied at 41 each.
Sandra MacQueen chipped in on the fifth hole.
The Women's Golf Association played a Welcome 2010 tournament on Jan. 7, and the format was two best balls on holes Nos. 2 and 10, and one best ball on all other holes. Each player was allowed 90 percent of their handicap. Jane White, Joan Sponik, Bonnie Hanly and Charlotte Cable scored 66.
The Women's Golf Association played a Three Three Three contest on Jan. 14, and the format was two best balls on three of your best par 3s, 4s and 5s, and one best ball on all other holes. The winners: Lynn Delgarn, Nancy Dorato, Teresa Harmicar, Jakki Whitten, 88; Didi Bennett, Kathy Grodeon, Val Minick, Zona Willis, 89 (MOC); Rita Clayton, Peggy Lucey, Juanita Milam, Kay Monteith, 89 (MOC); Dee Bilodeau, Silvia Bisbe, Joan Sponik, Aurele Timken, 89 (MOC); Joann Breslin, Cindy Motter, Ann Nash, Sandy Smith, 89 (MOC); Patricia Beranek, Michelle Girard, Shirley Kronbach, Janice Mellus, 92; Billie Oxrieder, Linda Querec, Cathy Renner, Sheryl Robinson, 93.
Midland: The Men's Golf Association played a Nassau Tournament on Jan. 20, and the format was two best balls of the foursome.
The winners: Joe Alden, Jerry Kelly, Bob Mellinger and a blind draw won overall with 121. Lee Hancock won low gross with 83 and Dick Baird won low net with 67.
In the 9-hole Skins Game, Paul Aschmetat won one skin on hole No. 4. Birdies were recorded by Lee Hancock on hole No. 2, Pat Ryan on No. 6, Steve Zachary on holes Nos. 10 and 16 and Art Gula on holes Nos. 13 and 16.
Whispering Woods: The Men's Golf Association played on Jan. 18, and the game was two low net balls on par-3 holes and one low net on par-4 and par-5 holes. The team of Bill Bartlett, Fred Miller, Tony Rodriquez and Carl Williams won with a score of 70.
Knollwood: The Sandblasters played on Jan. 19 in a two best balls of the foursome contest. The winners: Richard Wyloga, Jim Burrill, Dick Madeira, Bill Brown, 57; Bill Crenson, Justin Hendrix, Dave Petro, Dick Heilman, 58; Paul Leach, Ed Campbell, Tom Bernett, 56.
Bill Crenson won low gross with 38, and Justin Hendrix and Jim Burrill tied at 30 low net.
Birdies were recorded by Mac Andrews on No. 1, Jim Taylor on No. 5 and Don Palmer on No. 8.
The Rainmakers played on Jan. 18 in a low gross / low net tournament.
Flight 1 - Gross: JoAnn Slayton, 46. Net: Lois Vollmer, 33.
Flight 2 - Gross: Joan Mangrum, 52. Net: Mary Pat Curl, 33.
Flight 3 - Gross: Carole Amlot, 56. Net: Mary Moore, 36.
Whispering Pines: The Men's Golf Association played a two best ball contest on Jan. 20. The winners: Bob Tice, Paul Hallet, Joe Thomas and Roger Williams at 123; Dick Strine, Stafford Thornton, Eric Stefanko and Chris Reitler at 129; Joe Merry, Lenny Mills, John Gillis and Win Loughlin at 130.
Do you have an item for the Fairway Notebook? E-mail it with your phone number and e-mail address to firstname.lastname@example.org, or mail it to Fairway Notebook, The Pilot, P.O. Box 58, Southern Pines, N.C. 28388.
More like this story