All Course Ratings in England are now conducted using a universal Course Rating System originally devised by the USGA, to provide a Course and Slope Rating for use with the new new World Handicap System (WHS).
Course Rating is the measure of the playing difficulty of a set of tees for a scratch golfer (similar to SSS) and is the most meaningful basis for comparison of the relative playing difficulty of different courses / sets of tees.
Slope Rating is the measure of the playing difficulty of a specific set of tees for a non-scratch golfer relative to the difficulty of the same set of tees for a scratch golfer. It does not indicate the relative playing difficulty of that set of tees versus any other set of tees whether at the same course or a different course.
Only by considering both the Course and Slope Ratings of any set of tees, can the level of challenge presented to players of different ability levels be potentially identified. Handicap software will judge a players score against these rating values, as after all... an average score on a tough course may be better than a good score on an easy one!
Prior to January 2014, the Standard Scratch Scores of golf courses in England were assessed differently for men and women. For men the rating was assessed on the basis of a system developed by the English Golf Union. For women the rating was assessed on the basis of the universally accepted standard rating system – namely the USGA Course Rating system.
Since January 2014 all courses have been rated in accordance with the USGA Course Rating System (now known as the WHS Course Rating System). This system provides each set of rated tees with both a ‘Course’ and ‘Slope’ rating.
The rules relating to the ‘WHS Course Rating System’ require that new courses are re-rated within 5 years and that every course is re-rated at least once every 10 years – more frequently if significant changes are made to the course – i.e. changes such as significant increases or decreases in overall length or the addition of water or extreme rough affecting multiple holes.
By the end of 2020, all affiliated clubs in Durham had Course and Slope Ratings for their primary competition tees. 2021 will be used to revisit any course which has seen big changes since last being rated or has had new sets of tees added, before the 10-year cycle of ratings commences again in 2022.
How are Course Ratings conducted?
In each County there is a County Rating Team made up of representatives from both Mens Union and Ladies Association, who are trained and experienced in performing ratings in line with England Golf guidelines.
The process of rating a course involves a team of around 8 raters, who visit the course, take detailed measurements and conduct detailed assessments of each and every hole and the various hazards present, according to very strict rules. ‘Rating Values’ are then allocated for each of the various conditions encountered – again according to very strict rules – from Tables produced by the WHS Course Rating System and used globally in rating courses.
The results of these measurements, and the ‘rating values’ accumulated, are converted, using complex software programs, into the number of ‘strokes’ which should be required to play a course of that specified length and difficulty.
Assessments are carried out for a ‘Scratch’ golfer (man or woman) – and for the so called ‘Bogey’ golfer – which is a player with a Handicap Index of approximately 20.0 for men and 24.0 for women.
Such a rating process usually requires at least 4 hours on the course and about the same again assimilating the results which must then be submitted –via England Golf – to the WHS Course Rating System for ratification.
Course rating is a free service provided by the County to its affiliated clubs.
Are there any pre-requisites required before a course can be rated?
There are basically two very simple pre-requisites:
How do I know if my course requires re-rating?
The County Rating Team know when your course was last rated and have a schedule, by year, for re-rating every course in Durham.
Courses which are scheduled to be rated in any given year will be contacted at the beginning of that year to discuss exactly what is involved and to agree a mutually convenient date when the rating may be conducted.
When a course is not scheduled to be re-rated but has been significantly changed – i.e. any increase or decrease of more than 100 yards in total length – or where significant hazards have been added or removed - the Club must inform the County Rating team who will advise on what further action, if any, is required.
When are courses rated?
Courses are rated on the basis of main playing season conditions – and although the start and duration of such season can vary across the country – and year to year – the sensible standard guidelines are:
1. There is clear ‘fairway definition’
2. There should be ‘canopy’ on the trees
3. The greens are running an average speed for that course
In most instances this means not starting before early to mid- April and not rating after mid- October – a relatively short rating season – and one which is in conflict with increased playing demands from club members.
What do we do if we intend to carry out Temporary or Permanent course changes?:
How do we get a 9-Hole Rating?
Further information together with the relevant application forms can be found by clicking the following link...
How do I Contact the Course Rating Team?
If you have any questions about course rating in Durham, please contact Jonathan Ward at email@example.com or on 0191 3740788.