USGA COURSE RATING INFORMATION
A USGA Course Rating (Scratch Score) is the evaluation of the playing difficulty of a course for scratch golfers under normal course and weather conditions. It is expressed as the number of strokes taken and is based on yardage and other obstacles to the extent that they affect the scoring difficulty of the scratch golfer.
A Bogey Rating is the evaluation of the playing difficulty of a course for bogey golfers under normal course and weather conditions. It is based on yardage and other obstacles to the extent that they affect the scoring difficulty of the bogey golfer. The evaluation is not used in calculation of the scratch score and will only be used when Slope is introduced.
The Rating Process
The rating process requires a study of each hole, including details data obtained at all landing zones for both the scratch and the bogey golfer. The rating teams use the average shot lengths for both scratch and bogey golfers to determine the land zones. Length corrections and obstacle values are considered at each landing zone.
Effective Playing Length Factors
The following correction factors are evaluated to determine if the hole is effectively longer or shorter than the actual measured length.
Roll: Roll is an evaluation of how far the tee shots for scratch and bogey golfers roll, and the effect that has on the playing length of the course.
Elevation: Elevation is a measure of how changes in elevation from tee to green affect the playing length of a hole.
Dogleg/Forced Lay-Up: Dogleg/Forced lay-up is a measure of how much longer or shorter a hole is played because it has a bend (allowing players to cut the corner or forcing them to lay up), or because it has obstacles, such as water or deep bunkers, crossing the fairway in the players’ landing zones (which force the scratch or bogey golfer to hit less than a full shot).
Prevailing Wind: Prevailing wind is a measure of the effect of constant wind on seaside course, plains courses, or other courses unprotected from the wind.
The following obstacle factors are determined for each landing zone for both the scratch and the bogey golfer:
Topography: Topography is a factor if the stance or lie in the landing zone is affected by slopes or mounds, or the shot to the green is uphill or downhill, making club selection more difficult.
Fairway: Fairway is an evaluation of the difficulty of keeping the ball in play from tee to green. Fairway ratings are based on fairway width in all landing zones, hole length, and nearby tree, hazards, and punitive rough.
Green Target: Green Target is an evaluation of the difficulty of hitting the green with the approach shot. Primary considerations are target size, length of shot, how well the green holds, and the difficulty of normal hole locations.
Recoverability and Rough: Recoverability and Rough is the evaluation of the probability of missing the tee shot landing zone and the green, and the difficulty of recovering if either, or both, is missed.
Bunkers: Bunkers is the evaluation of their proximity to target areas and the difficulty of recovery from them.
Out of Bounds/Extreme Rough: OB/Extreme Rough is the evaluation of the distance from the centre of the landing zone to the OB/Extreme Rough. High grass, heavy underbrush in trees, and other extreme conditions are rated in this category because a ball in such “extreme rough” is likely to be lost or virtually unpayable. Such areas may also be rated under Recoverability and Rough.
Water Hazards: Water Hazards is the evaluation of a water hazard and its distance from the landing zone or green and, in the case of a hazard crossing a hole, the problem involved in playing over the hazard. The Water Hazards rating is applied on any hole where there is a water hazard or lateral water hazard.
Trees: Trees is the evaluation of the size and density of the trees, their distance from the centre of the landing zone or green, the length of the shot to the target, and the difficulty of recovery.
Green Surface: Green Surface is the evaluation of a green’s difficulty from the putting standpoint. Green speed and surface contouring are the main factors. The size of the green is considered irrelevant in evaluation putting difficulty. A stimpmeter is utilized to measure the speed of the greens based on midseason conditions.
Psychological: Psychological is the evaluation of the cumulative effect of the other obstacles. The location of many punitive obstacles close to a target area creates uneasiness in the mind of the player and thus affects his or her score. This value is purely mathematical and is added after the on-course rating is complete.
Each obstacle is assigned a value of 0 to 10, depending on its relation to how a scratch or bogey golfer would play the hole. When the evaluation is complete, the numbers for each hole’s obstacles are totalled and multiplied by a relative weighting factor. The weighted obstacle stroke values are applied to scratch and bogey formulas and then converted to strokes. Those strokes are added or subtracted from the Yardage Rating to produce a Bogey Rating and the USGA Course Rating. Although a Bogey Rating is calculated it is not used to produce the Course Rating/Scratch Score.