Monday at Heatherwoode

Course_Rating_Season- The start of Miami Valley Golf's course rating season is just around the corner, kicking off on Monday at Heatherwoode Golf Club with our Preseason Calibration. Our dedicated team of Course Raters plays a crucial role in supporting the essence of our net game, meticulously establishing course ratings and slopes using the USGA Course Rating System. This standardized approach is now embraced by over 124 national associations across the globe, ensuring consistency and fairness. Without the expertise of our course raters and the commitment of our well-trained volunteers, our great game wouldn't be as accessible and enjoyable for the countless golfers who cherish it.

Here are the Courses to be rated on the 2024 Schedule:

Springfield Elks GC - Monday, April 22, 2024
Stillwater Valley GC - Tuesday, May 21, 2024
Turtle Creek GC - Monday, June 17, 2024
Beavercreek Golf Club - Monday, July 29, 2024
Celina Lynx Golf Club - Monday, August 19, 2024
Windy Knoll Golf Club - Tuesday, September 17, 2024

Have Questions about Course Rating?  Top Questions are below!
What is Slope?

Most golfers believe that the higher the slope number, the more difficult the golf course. This may or may not be true depending on the level of golfer you are. The Slope number for a golf course tells you how difficult the golf course is for a bogey player (17.5 - 22.4 Handicap Index for a male golfer) compared to a scratch player. The higher the slope number, the harder the course is for the bogey golfer relative to the difficulty of the course for the scratch golfer. Slope numbers can range anywhere between 55 and 155 with the average slope in the United States being 120. 

The slope number is used to convert your Handicap Index into a Course Handicap. This allows the player to receive enough strokes from a particular set of tees, to play at an equal level of a scratch golfer from the same set of tees. 

The Slope number is derived from the following mathematical formula:

(Bogey Rating - Course Rating) x 5.381 = Slope 

When your course is rated, a scratch rating and bogey rating are both determined from each set of tees. (The scratch rating is the same as the course rating). From both the bogey rating and the scratch rating, we can then use the formula above to achieve our slope number.

Why do we need all of these numbers? The system was developed to allow a player to take his Handicap Index to almost any course in the world and be able to compete on an equal level with other golfers.

Who rates a course?

Miami Valley Golf's course rating team is led by an experienced set of captains who has been trained under the USGA’s Course Rating System. Nearly every golf association throughout the world has been trained to use the exact system that is used here in the Miami Valley Area

There are approximately 25 volunteer committee members on Miami Valley Golf's course rating team.  All the individuals on the Miami Valley Golf's course rating committee have been trained in course rating procedures and have attended regular training on the course rating process.

The backgrounds of course raters range from lawyers to engineers to teachers. Regardless of the person’s past or present profession, each course rater has the same thing in common: their love for the game of golf. 

How is a course rated? (The rating procedure)

All courses rated under the USGA Course Rating System are rated using the same parameters that have been established by the USGA. A male scratch player is defined by the USGA as an amateur golfer who has reached the stroke play portion of the U.S. Amateur Championship.  The male bogey golfer is defined as having a USGA handicap index of 17.5 - 22.4.

There are five playing-length factors that are considered for each hole: roll, elevation, wind, dogleg/forced lay-ups, and altitude. Between these five factors, or a combination of them, the overall playing length of a golf course is either lengthened or shortened from the physical yardage of a golf course.

In addition to the effective playing length of a course, there are 10 obstacles that are evaluated on each hole (nine of the obstacles are physical and one psychological). The nine obstacles are as follows: topography, fairway, green target, rough and recoverability, bunkers, crossing obstacle, lateral obstacle, trees, and green surface. If that weren’t enough, the hole is given an extra boost of difficulty under the obstacle of psychology if the rating numbers determine that the hole plays more difficult.

Each obstacle is given a numerical value ranging from zero to 10 (zero being non-existent, 10 being extreme). To avoid subjectivity, the values assigned are taken from a table in the USGA Course Rating Guide. These values are based off the distances the obstacle is from the center of the landing zone or target.

For example: assuming there are no effective playing length corrections, the team of course raters would first evaluate the landing area for the bogey golfer off the tee. In this area, the team would measure the width of the fairway, the distance from the center of the fairway to the nearest boundary line, trees, hazard line, and whether there are any bunkers nearby. The same procedure would be done for the scratch player’s landing area. This evaluation process is repeated until the group reaches the green. The green width and depth are then measured as well as the number of obstacles/bunkers surrounding the green as well as how far it is to the nearest boundary line.

This process is repeated on every hole and for every tee. Through this data, a scratch and bogey rating are achieved. We are then able to use these two numbers to calculate the slope number.

What is our course is not in its typical condition the day it is rated?

“The day our course was rated, the rough was higher than normal and the greens were slower than usual.”

With more than 50 courses throughout the Miami Valley, it would be physically impossible to rate every course during its “prime” season. Therefore, courses are rated as if normal mid-season playing conditions existed (i.e., conditions at the time of year when most rounds are played). For most of the golf courses in our area, mid-season conditions with respect to fairways, length of rough, foliage, and speed of greens, exist between spring and fall.

Because the USGA requires all courses to be rated at least once every 10 years or when significate changes have occurred, it is important for the team of course raters to obtain accurate, mid-season course conditions. Prior to your course being rated, our advance team works with your facilities superintendent and golf staff to ensure that the course is rated under the correct parameters. Even though the rough may be 4” for the club championship and the greens may have a stimpmeter reading of 11 feet for the member-guest tournament, our Miami Valley Course Rating Team will rate your course according to the conditions the course is maintained during the mid-season.

How often is a course rated?

The USGA requires all authorized golf associations to periodically review the ratings of their courses and to revise them if necessary. The USGA has licensed Miami Valley Golf to rate courses according to their guidelines. If a facility resides in our Miami Valley Golf Area, they are required to comply with the guidelines that the USGA has set down for Miami Valley Golf to follow.

Our team at Miami Valley Golf is required to re-rate a golf course within a 10-year period or if there have been any “significant changes” to your course, e.g., the size of the greens have changed, greenside or fairway bunkers have been added or removed, or a new set of tees have been added, your course may need an adjustment.

Who assigns the Stroke Index Allocation?

Miami Valley Golf does recommend using the information developed during the course rating process.  However, courses are free to use whichever method they choose. There is no recommendation for a course to run a new allocation solely due to the move to the WHS. However, for courses that are looking to run a new allocation, the new WHS method produces consistent and acceptable values without the need to find specific players and collect hundreds of scores from a common tee.   

Why did our Course Rating and Slope Rating Change?

Changes in course rating and slope ratings usually occur following a re-rating. These changes can be attributed to several possibilities.

Course rating and slope ratings usually change because of the effective playing length of the golf course. Even though the changes might not seem significant, it is important to note that yardage is the predominant factor in calculating a course rating. Increasing the effective playing length of the course by 100 yards adds half a stroke to the USGA Course Rating and one slope point.

When rating a golf course, effective playing length is accounted for by factoring in, roll, wind, dogleg/forced lay-up, elevation, and altitude. These factors can significantly add or subtract the overall playing length for a golf course from each individual set of tees. The majority of the effective playing length factors are accounted for during the rating process. The Miami Valley Golf team of course raters are equipped with altimeters to evaluate elevation and altitude. Wind speed is usually provided by a club representative.

Another possible change to the rating numbers is the addition or subtraction of obstacles. Generally speaking, changing obstacles has less effect on the course rating and slope ratings than effective playing length. Usually, losing one tree or adding one bunker has a negligible effect on the overall course rating. However, it is always recommended that the club contact Miami Valley Golf if they feel significant changes have occurred and the golf course is in need of a re-rating.

The maintenance of a golf course is another reason why the course rating and slope numbers change when a course is re-rated. Increasing the green speeds or rough height are common reasons course rating numbers change. For example, by increasing the speed of the putting greens from 9’5” to 10’5”, will increase the course rating 2/10’s and the slope one point.

One final reason why a golf course’s course rating and slope rating increase following a re-rating is because of a procedural change. Every year, the USGA Course Rating Committee meets to discuss changes to the existing rating procedures. Although the formulas used to compute the final numbers are never altered, the techniques to obtain the numbers may be changed. Usually, these modifications are only minor adjustments that are meant to perfect the existing system that is currently in use. Other times, clarification is needed to better stress a point regarding how a rating is done. In either case, the modification to the rating procedure can be another cause to a course rating increase.

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