what is the slope rating in golf

Theslope ratingof agolf courseis a measure of its relative difficulty for abogey golfercompared to ascratch golfer. It is used byhandicapping systemsto equalize the field by accounting for the likelihood that, when playing on more difficult courses, higher handicap players’ scores will rise more quickly than their handicaps would otherwise predict. The phrase was coined by theUnited States Golf Association.[1]

History of slope rating[edit]

The USGA established the Handicap Research Team in 1979 with the goal of establishing their handicap system to account for changes in golf course playing difficulty for players of various levels (HRT).[2]Two years previously, in 1977, then-Lt. Commander Dean Knuth, a PhD student at the University of California, Berkeley, hadNaval Postgraduate School, had devised improvements to the course rating system, including weighted ratings of ten characteristics for each hole, to provide an adjustment to the distance rating for the course. It intended to serve as the foundation for the current USGA Course Rating System. Later on, when residing inNorfolk, Virginia, he developed a method for Bogey Rating by analyzing data gathered from average ability volunteers scores played on the local courses. Beginning in 1981, Knuth served as the USGA’s Senior Director of Handicapping for 16 years.[3][4]

The result of the Knuth’s and HRT’s work was a calculation based on the difference between the course rating and bogey rating to give a numerical measure of the difference in difficulty for the scratch and bogey golfer that could be used to adjust golfer’s handicaps dependent on the course being played. This is still the foundation of what is currently known as the slope system. Under the direction of HRT member Dr. Byron Williamson, the Colorado Golf Association assessed all of its courses using the new approach in 1982. Colorado tried the Slope System in 1983 and found it to be effective. Five additional states joined Colorado in the test in 1984, before the slope system was introduced nationwide beginning in 1987. Every golf organization in the United States that assesses golf courses has used the USGA Course Rating System since January 1, 1990.[5][2]

Many of the world’s leading handicapping systems, notably the USGA Course and Slope Rating System, are based on the USGA Course and Slope Rating System.World Handicap System, jointly developed by the USGA andThe R&A, that was introduced globally in 2020.[6]

USGA Slope Rating[edit]

The USGA Slope Rating is a numerical figure that compares the difficulty of a set of tees on a golf course for a bogey golfer to a scratch player.[7]It describes the fact that when playing on a more difficult course, the scores of higher-handicapped players will rise more quickly than those of lower handicapped golfers. As in the mathematical model, the slope rating of a set of tees forecasts the straight-line growth in expected score vs USGA course handicap.slopeof a graph.

Slope ratings are determined as a multiple of the difference between the predicted good score for a bogey golfer (handicap of 20 to 24), known as the bogey rating, and the expected good score for a scratch golfer (handicap of zero), known as the scratch rating.USGA Course Rating. The course and bogey ratings are determined by course raters, who measure and record more than 460 variables on a standard course rating form for each set of tees. Slope ratings vary from 55 to 155, with a normal playing difficulty course having a grade of 113. The slope rating indicates how challenging the course will be for a bogey golfer.

The slope rating is calculated by multiplying the difference between the bogey and scratch ratings by 5.381 for men and 4.240 for women.[8]


  1. ^Dellner, Tom.“The Slope System”.The Pope of Slope. Retrieved December 15, 2019.
  2. ^Jump up to:abYun, Hunki (October 25, 2011).“Handicapping History, Part IV: The Rise Of The Slope System”.USGA. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  3. ^Stroud, Richard.“Up to 1979: A History of USGA Handicap Procedures in the United States”.The Pope of Slope. Retrieved December 15, 2019.
  4. ^Knuth, Dean.“A Tribute to Mr. Gordon (Joe) Ewen and the Beginnings of It All”.The Pope of Slope. Retrieved December 15, 2019.
  5. ^Knuth, Dean.“A two parameter golf course rating system”.The Pope of Slope. Retrieved December 15, 2019.
  6. ^“Questions and Answers”(PDF).England Golf. Retrieved December 6, 2019.
  7. ^“Handicap System Manual – Slope Rating – Definitions”.USGA. Retrieved March 21, 2010.
  8. ^“Handicap System Manual – Slope Rating Formulas – Section 13-3 f”.USGA. Retrieved March 21, 2010.

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