Golf differs from many other popular sports in a wide variety of ways. One of the key characteristics of this sport is the recognition of fluctuating skill levels from beginners and intermediate players to scratch golfers and Tour pros. The United States Golf Association (USGA) knows that a senior golfer shouldn't be expected to shoot as long as his twenty-year-old counterpart; that wouldn't be considered a fair match-up in the least.
So how do the governing authorities of golf level the playing field? They do it by designating a handicapping system that allows beginning and intermediate players to compete against players with a higher skill level and/or advantage.
This is exactly where the golf course slope rating comes into play. The slope rating is a value that is generated by the USGA that shows a course's difficulty level for bogey golfers - golfers that average around a bogey per hole.
Why Slope Rating In Golf Is Important
There are two types of ratings that are commonly seen on golf course scorecards: course ratings and slope ratings. The first give better golfers an idea of how difficult a course may be; the second covers the other end of the spectrum and shows beginning and bogey golfers how tough they can expect the applicable eighteen holes will be to play.
Golf course slope ratings are set by the USGA. They range in value from a low of 55 - the easiest score possible - to 155 for an extremely difficult layout. Unlike a course rating, the slope rating does not relate to how many strokes a hole should play for a scratch golfer.
Golf course slope ratings are the grand equalizer, helping golfers of wide and varying skill levels that may be playing together to make sure that they are evenly matched. Without designating different golf course slope ratings for the vast majority of unique golf courses throughout the world, players accustomed to shooting a certain number of strokes on their home course wouldn't be able to determine how they should expect to shoot on layouts with which they are unfamiliar.
Slope Rating In Golf and Handicaps
Obtaining a golf handicap score is a special day in any intermediate golfer's life. It requires a minimum of five rounds of play (with twenty rounds being optimal) and calculations that leave most players with their heads spinning.
Slope rating is an important factor when calculating a golfer's handicap score, and is necessary to reflect differences in wavering course difficulties. For example, what if one particular golfer played his or her five rounds on a course rated at 100, while another golfer played his five rounds at a course rated at 150?
This is exactly why golf course slope ratings are such an important part of golf handicap scores. The player that completed his five rounds on a more difficult course will in-turn have a lower handicap score, which reflects his higher skill level than the player that completed his rounds on an easier course.
Slope rating allows players that may shoot the same number of strokes per round to still allot for the fact that they may have been competing on drastically different golf courses.
Knowing what slope rating in golf applies to is essential for golfers of every skill level - especially if you're trying to determine your golf handicap score. Slope rating gives beginner and bogey players the same ability to gauge a course's difficulty that scratch players have with course ratings. Knowing what your golf course slope rating is will also help you figure out if your golfing buddy that boasts an 80-stroke game across town is actually competing on a higher level - or is just playing an easier course.