To ensure that the USGA Course Rating System promotes equity, courses are accurately measured and corrected for factors that affect the measured length (called the “Effective Playing Length”), which are roll, elevation changes, dogleg/forced lay ups, wind and altitude. In addition to the effective playing length, 10 obstacles are evaluated. The combination of the effective playing length and the 10 obstacle factors form the USGA Course Rating™ and Slope Rating®. The course rating process is based on expected outcomes from two model golfers, the scratch (USGA Course Rating) and bogey (Bogey Rating) golfer, for men and women, not best- and worst-case scenarios, and the difference between those two values is the Slope Rating.
A Handicap Index can range from the plus side (i.e., extremely good players—e.g., +5.0) to 36.4 (men) or 40.4 (women), and is a portable number that can be converted to a Course Handicap™ for any course and any set of tees based on that tee’s Slope Rating. The phrase "Target Score" references the concept of playing to one’s Handicap Index. To calculate a Target Score, add the USGA Course Rating (rounded) to the Course Handicap. The average score, when the Target Score isn’t achieved, will be 2-4 strokes higher than this Target Score. It’s worth noting you’re only expected to play to your handicap about 20% of the time—it’s a number based on potential ability.
Note: This promotion is for illustrative purposes only, and provides the Ratings for the predominant gender of the Championship. For example, the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open Championship Ratings are 78.4/147 (men’s ratings) & 80.4/153 (women’s ratings), respectively. Men and women can use this fun and engaging tool for any example provided but as noted the course rating process is handled differently for men and women. See “Section 13” of “The USGA Handicap System” for further information.
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