How Are Golf Courses Rated?

Golf is the sport of club, ball and attempts to hit balls into each hole on golf course. This is to be done employing fewest numbers of strokes. Since there is no standardized playing area, there are unique features on the course. Therefore, every course has different difficulties and players have to consider these while playing as it affects the game.

A golfer’s score is compared with the par score and tournament scores are reported by totaling the golfers score relative to par in each round. Par is the predetermined number of strokes a golfer takes to complete a hole and is considered as the central component of stroke play. Holes on the course are assigned par values between three and five strokes. The par hole form the tee to pin is for a casual player is between 250 yards to 450 yards. Other factors in setting the par are the terrain and obstacles like trees, hills. These may require the golfer to take more or few shots.

Championship golf courses have a par value of 72. It comprises of 4 par threes, 10 par fours and 4 par fives. 72 par is the typical value, many courses may have high pars like 73 or low as 69. Most of the 18 hole courses that are not designed for championships have a par close to 72.

The rating process requires proper study of each hole with details like landing zones for scratch and bogey golfers. The average shot lengths is determined for both the golfers to determine the landing zone. Length corrections and obstacle values are taken into account at each zone.

The course is to be measured accurately and then corrected for effective playing length. The corrections include, roll, elevation, dogleg lay up, wind and altitude. Obstacles are evaluated and standards established.

Course rating

Courses must be rated every 10 years and it is every 3 years for new golf courses. There should be re-rating in case there is any significant change.

How are golf courses rated?

Earlier, Course rating was based on the length of the course. Longer courses had higher ratings. Obstacles are also considered during rating a course. So, taking into account the length, obstacles and experience gleaned from playing the courses the rating is evaluated for the overall difficulty. This is done for the course under normal playing conditions and the course rating is issued. This rating is done for scratch rating as well as bogey rating.

Determining factors in course rating are the effective playing length and obstacle stroke value. Effective playing length is not the actual yardage but how it actually plays. Things like down slope, upslope, altitude of slope, forced lay ups and height of the fairway of the grass are considered.

Obstacle stroke value is numerical rating presented by obstacles on course. The course is rated for 10 categories: topography, trees, difficult fairway, etc. speed and contouring of the greens and the psychological effect of these is also considered.