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Do course and slope ratings add up?

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 

I've doing some handicap number crunching and I believe that my handicap is lower because of the course that I play.  From the tips the course is 72.1/121 and about 6500 yards.  The only thing is that (as i have posted before) the course has lied about some of the distances (by as much as 40 yards on some holes) and the course is incredibly easy.  The rough is always cut very short, and the greens are very slow so you can pretty much just take a whack at every putt.  The green also are very receptive.  There is maybe 15 bunkers total but they are not placed in positions that you would even hit your ball into.  Many of the hazards can be avoided with a 230 yard carry.  If any 2 or 3 handicapper wanted to get to scratch, I would advise them to play my home course.  They will be a +2 in no time. 

 

Last summer I went and played Bully Pulpit which used to be ranked as one of the top ten public golf courses.  From the tips the course is rated 75.4/133.  This course is extremely hard.  There is knee high native grass on almost every hole.  If you do not find the fairway you are hitting 3 off the tee because there is no way that you could find your ball.   The course is also as long, if not longer than advertised.  On the first hole there is a 230 yard carry over the native grass just to get to the fairway.  One of the par threes is kind of like TPC #17 in that it is just a green with a small fringe and any ball that does not find the green is lost in the badlands.  If I would play the tips at bully as regularly as I do at my home course I would be a 20-30+ handicap because there is a slim chance that I would bust 100.  The middle tees at Bully are rated in the 69/118 range.  There is no way that Bully should be rated three shots easier than my home course. 

 

If you ask me a scratch golfer would shoot more like 8-10 strokes more at bully.

 

Anyone have a course they think should be rated different.

post #2 of 30

I actually sent the head pro at our course an email to ask when the course was last rated, USGA requires courses to be verified at least once every 10 years. Same thing, I questioned the rating because of the way I score there compared to other courses. Though it's the other way around, our course rating is lower than that of others I play. The biggest factor at our course is the length of the rough. It's high enough that it gets mentioned in social media reviews.

 

 Reading the USGA rating primer answered some of my questions. The head pro answered some as well. But I don't doubt ratings are inconsistent if for no other reason that course conditions change. We don't know what the conditions were the day the rating team was there and if it was nearly ten yrs ago things have changed, trees grow, holes may have been modified. But it appears the biggest factors are distance and obstacle factors, each one is assigned a value.

 

I don't play the same course all the time so the handicap stuff washes out. But it's not advantageous to play lower rated courses, even if they play easy. Because of the low rating at our course my differentials are higher than my actual strokes. But I travel well, I usually score better at courses with higher ratings because I am accustomed to the home course. Also people I invite to play the course that usually play higher rated courses typically score higher there.

post #3 of 30

Doesn't take long to let the rough grow and narrow the fairways. If either is done after the course is rated it's a game changer even on a short course. (As we all know and was in full display this weekend at Merion).

 

Even changing thick Bermuda rough from 2 inches to 3 inches means the difference in having a shot and having a lost ball for any fairway missed. (I've been to a lot of courses where the "rough" was less than an inch...Not very rough at all). 

 

They do the best they can to rate the courses but after they leave all bets are off that the course is going to stay that way.

 

If the course rating team went by the yardages posted on the scorecard at the OP's course (which are obviously wrong) that would surprise me. They should have done their own measuring. 

post #4 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by trackster View Post

From the tips the course is 72.1/121 and about 6500 yards.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by trackster View Post

Last summer I went and played Bully Pulpit which used to be ranked as one of the top ten public golf courses.  From the tips the course is rated 75.4/133.  This course is extremely hard.  There is knee high native grass on almost every hole.  If you do not find the fairway you are hitting 3 off the tee because there is no way that you could find your ball.   The course is also as long, if not longer than advertised.  On the first hole there is a 230 yard carry over the native grass just to get to the fairway.  One of the par threes is kind of like TPC #17 in that it is just a green with a small fringe and any ball that does not find the green is lost in the badlands.  If I would play the tips at bully as regularly as I do at my home course I would be a 20-30+ handicap because there is a slim chance that I would bust 100.  The middle tees at Bully are rated in the 69/118 range.  There is no way that Bully should be rated three shots easier than my home course. 

I don't know if it was your thread, but somebody who has rating experience (might have been Erik) mentioned that ratings/slopes are weighted HEAVILY in regards to distance, and my experience is that that seems true.  Generally, courses in the 6500-6800 range seem to usually be around 71, give or take a stroke, and courses 7000+ start creeping into 73, 74 and up.  I agree with you, that that doesn't really make a lot of sense, because it doesn't account enough for fairway width and height of rough.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by trackster View Post

Anyone have a course they think should be rated different.

Yes.  The local muni from the tips is rated 70.8/128, which are 6400+.  My "home" course is 71.7/129 from the tees I play, which are 6580.  That course has hazards or OB lining at least one side of all 18 holes, and on both sides of 10 of the holes.  The muni course has very little in the way of hazards (2 ponds) and OB only really coms into play on one side of 3 holes.  I almost always make it around the muni with one ball, whereas my "home" course usually gets 1 or 2 donated even on good rounds.  At least for my game currently, those courses aren't remotely the same difficulty.

 

EDIT:  Further, in November they overseeded the rough of my home course and made it at least another stroke or 2 harder.  (The muni never has rough)

post #5 of 30

Generally speaking, I find most course ratings/slopes make sense, but there are certainly exceptions.  As noted, conditions can change week to week or even day to day and/or time of day you play.  It would be more work and there are always going to be flaws with the handicap system, but I think it would be that hard for the golf associations to attempt to look for biases in course ratings by doing some cross comparisons using computer data bases.  

post #6 of 30
post #7 of 30

I don't worry so much about course rating/slopes as I do the way holes are handicapped.  For instance my league plays one of our nines where the #1 handicap hole is a 330 yard Par 4:

 

 

This hole is ONLY the #1 handicap hole because of the water on the right.  Anyone who is a bogey golfer can hit a shot 190 yards up the left and have no more than 140 yards in.  From the tips, I can see it being the #1 handicap, but from the Blues forward, no way.  Which begs the question - why are handicaps generally just divided up by men's/women's tees and not for every set of tees?

post #8 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by chriskzoo View Post

I don't worry so much about course rating/slopes as I do the way holes are handicapped.  For instance my league plays one of our nines where the #1 handicap hole is a 330 yard Par 4:

 

 

This hole is ONLY the #1 handicap hole because of the water on the right.  Anyone who is a bogey golfer can hit a shot 190 yards up the left and have no more than 140 yards in.  From the tips, I can see it being the #1 handicap, but from the Blues forward, no way.  Which begs the question - why are handicaps generally just divided up by men's/women's tees and not for every set of tees?

We have some hole handicaps that change with different tees. Some of the newer, longer courses I play have 6 sets of tees. At my parents club some tees not only have different ratings but par is different too, from the tips it's a 5, from the forward tees a 4. The reason is the landing zone from the tees is different, one brings a hazard into play and the other is on the other side of it.

post #9 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by chriskzoo View Post

This hole is ONLY the #1 handicap hole because of the water on the right.  Anyone who is a bogey golfer can hit a shot 190 yards up the left and have no more than 140 yards in.  From the tips, I can see it being the #1 handicap, but from the Blues forward, no way.  Which begs the question - why are handicaps generally just divided up by men's/women's tees and not for every set of tees?

 

That's not necessarily true.

 

Handicaps are assigned based on where a higher handicap player is more likely to need strokes from a lower handicap player.

 

That's why par fives tend to be the higher handicap holes - they're not the "toughest" holes for low handicappers, they're often the easiest. It also explains par threes - very often a wide range of players all make bogeys on them, so the scoring spread isn't very wide.

 

And since you can have matches contested between players playing different tees, and because the "difficulty" of the hole is NOT a consideration, that's why they're almost always rated for men and women and not per tees.

post #10 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave2512 View Post

We have some hole handicaps that change with different tees. Some of the newer, longer courses I play have 6 sets of tees. At my parents club some tees not only have different ratings but par is different too, from the tips it's a 5, from the forward tees a 4. The reason is the landing zone from the tees is different, one brings a hazard into play and the other is on the other side of it.

This doesn't make any sense.  Like Erik eluded to above ... how can you have a match between two players playing different sets of tees if the holes are handicapped differently from each set?  Where does the higher handicap get his strokes?

post #11 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Golfingdad View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave2512 View Post

We have some hole handicaps that change with different tees. Some of the newer, longer courses I play have 6 sets of tees. At my parents club some tees not only have different ratings but par is different too, from the tips it's a 5, from the forward tees a 4. The reason is the landing zone from the tees is different, one brings a hazard into play and the other is on the other side of it.

This doesn't make any sense.  Like Erik eluded to above ... how can you have a match between two players playing different sets of tees if the holes are handicapped differently from each set?  Where does the higher handicap get his strokes?


 There's a process in the USGA Handicapping rules that covers that.

 

Oops, sorry - I didn't see the part about the hole handicaps being different...I agree, not sure how that would work.  I think there is a way though, since our work league does it when men and women play on a hole that is differently handicapped for each.

post #12 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by sacm3bill View Post

 There's a process in the USGA Handicapping rules that covers that.

Hmmm, interesting.  I guess now that you mention it there has to be, otherwise men and women wouldn't be able to compete in handicapped events even from the same tees, huh?

post #13 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Golfingdad View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by sacm3bill View Post

 There's a process in the USGA Handicapping rules that covers that.

Hmmm, interesting.  I guess now that you mention it there has to be, otherwise men and women wouldn't be able to compete in handicapped events even from the same tees, huh?

 

Found my league rules, here's how they do it:

 

Whichever one, man or woman, that has the higher handicap, use that person's handicap stroke table to score with.  If their handicaps are the same, use the ladies handicap table.

 

Not sure if that's the actual USGA policy though...

post #14 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Golfingdad View Post

This doesn't make any sense.  Like Erik eluded to above ... how can you have a match between two players playing different sets of tees if the holes are handicapped differently from each set?  Where does the higher handicap get his strokes?

Sorry I posted that in a rush while helping clients. Depending on the tees par is 71 or 72. The hole handicaps flip-flop at holes 11 and 12 based on which you chose, from 12/2 to 2/12. Hole 12  can be a par 4 or 5 based on the tees. If you're playing a casual match you have to decide which tees before you start. Whether you play it as a 4 or 5 there are more than one set of tees, it's not intended to be mixed up. For tournaments the club decides either or. I was just pointing out that it can be variable based on how you play the course if it's part of the design. This course actually has 8 different ratings because they do have combo tees but all are whether you play it as a 71 or 72. Doesn't really answer the OP's question but this course has options and the obstacles definitely play a part in hole handicaps. It's definitely not common.

post #15 of 30

Im kinda new to the whole concept of course rating so this might be a dumb question but when does a course start to become considered a tough course? A course I play near me that I consider to be a decently hard course but not a ball buster is a 72/125 from the back tees. What would that be considered to compared to most courses?

post #16 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by iacas View Post

 

That's not necessarily true.

 

Handicaps are assigned based on where a higher handicap player is more likely to need strokes from a lower handicap player.

 

That's why par fives tend to be the higher handicap holes - they're not the "toughest" holes for low handicappers, they're often the easiest. It also explains par threes - very often a wide range of players all make bogeys on them, so the scoring spread isn't very wide.

 

And since you can have matches contested between players playing different tees, and because the "difficulty" of the hole is NOT a consideration, that's why they're almost always rated for men and women and not per tees.

Or, in my case, they are rated that way until the members bitch too much and get them changed.

 

A couple of GMs ago, our course was re-rated, with the handicap holes based on where a stroke was needed by the higher handicaps.

 

Once he left and the new GM could be bullied, the handicap numbers were put back to where the course had been the previous 20 years (even then there are still problems because half the membership whines about starting on the back 9 for our split tee times because the #1 and #3 handicap holes are 8 and 9.)

 

Our course also has different handicap numbered holes for the gold (senior) tees and the blue and white. The golds are now forever in their own flight and the days of mixed tournaments with the women are long gone.

 

In another odd twist, with my current course handicap of 26, all my 2 stroke holes are par 4s.

post #17 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jakester23 View Post

Im kinda new to the whole concept of course rating so this might be a dumb question but when does a course start to become considered a tough course? A course I play near me that I consider to be a decently hard course but not a ball buster is a 72/125 from the back tees. What would that be considered to compared to most courses?

I don't have numbers to back me up but just from the courses I play I would call 72/125 respectably tough. Not a cupcake and not a bear.

post #18 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jakester23 View Post

Im kinda new to the whole concept of course rating so this might be a dumb question but when does a course start to become considered a tough course? A course I play near me that I consider to be a decently hard course but not a ball buster is a 72/125 from the back tees. What would that be considered to compared to most courses?

I guess, in my opinion, the course you just described would be a a pretty good midpoint.  It seems logical that if a scratch golfer should break par it would be on the "easier" side and if he can't I'd call it "hard."

 

As far as the handicap formula goes, a course with a slope of 113 is considered "average," meaning that your differential is just going to be your adjusted score minus the course rating.  But tees that have 113 slopes usually (in my experience) come with ratings under 70, so I suppose that those would still be in the "easier" category.

 

All of that said, it's really about your own eye and your games strengths and weaknesses.  There are courses that are rated harder that I find easier and vice versa, and they just suit me for some reason.

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