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# Do course and slope ratings add up? - Page 2

Quote:

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.

That was my original thinking when looking at the formula, but the more I thought about it, the more I am thinking that a neutral slope adjustment of 113 does not necessarily mean a course is of "average" difficulty.  Put another way, a course of "average" difficulty may be one that a scratch can shoot the course rating half the time, but that higher handicap golfers will not shoot the rating plus differential half the time.

I can only think of a couple of instances where I have played courses with slopes LESS THAN 113, but many instances where I have played courses with HIGHER slopes.  So if by "average" difficulty we mean a course that is harder than 50% and easier than 50% of all the courses out there, maybe it is something higher than 113- maybe something around 120 with a rating of 71??

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My understanding is that, in theory, the difficulty of a course for a scratch player is reflected mostly in the rating, not the slope, the rating being the average score of the best 50% of rounds that a scratch player would achieve.

The slope measures how much the course exaggerates (or shrinks) the difference in scores between players of different handicaps, with 113 being the baseline value, that is, the value to which the "handicap index" itself refers. For example, a course with slope 135 increases the expected score difference between two players to (135/113)x(handicap index difference)-- in theory. In practice, each player computes his/her "course handicap" using 135/113x(handicap index) and then the difference between the course handicaps is used, but that's the same thing (by the distributive law we all learned in high school math). We're ignoring the various round-off rules here for simplicity.

Courses with high slopes make the score differences between players of different abilities even bigger.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LeftyGomez

My understanding is that, in theory, the difficulty of a course for a scratch player is reflected mostly in the rating, not the slope, the rating being the average score of the best 50% of rounds that a scratch player would achieve.

The slope measures how much the course exaggerates (or shrinks) the difference in scores between players of different handicaps, with 113 being the baseline value, that is, the value to which the "handicap index" itself refers. For example, a course with slope 135 increases the expected score difference between two players to (135/113)x(handicap index difference)-- in theory. In practice, each player computes his/her "course handicap" using 135/113x(handicap index) and then the difference between the course handicaps is used, but that's the same thing (by the distributive law we all learned in high school math). We're ignoring the various round-off rules here for simplicity.

Courses with high slopes make the score differences between players of different abilities even bigger.

Totally agree with the above.

Put in different words, what I read sometime ago is that scratch players obtain similar scores in easy courses and in hard courses, because they can drive the ball straight, avoid hazards, etc. This is the "Rating" part of the formula, and what I have seen it is usually between 70 and 72. Doesn't vary much regardless of the difficulty of the course..

However, bogey golfers do much worse in hard courses than in easy courses, hence the "slope" part of the formula. Here the differences are much greater between easy and hard courses.

If you didn't have the "slope" part and tried to calculate handicaps simply by substracting the "rating" from your score, the difficulty of the course would not be properly taken into account.

Quote:
Originally Posted by arturo28mx

Put in different words, what I read sometime ago is that scratch players obtain similar scores in easy courses and in hard courses, because they can drive the ball straight, avoid hazards, etc. This is the "Rating" part of the formula, and what I have seen it is usually between 70 and 72. Doesn't vary much regardless of the difficulty of the course..

That is a subjective view, but I agree with it.  However, it does vary a lot based on distance.  Assuming par 72, short courses or tees around 6k yards are frequently around 68-69, whereas, back tees on long courses (7200 or so) are usually up in the 74 or higher range.

I agree with Lefty and Dad, but what do you think a typical scratch golfer would have shot at Merion this week?  I doubt they would have half their rounds average to the course rating (whatever that is)...

But this weak at Merion the course was set up as close to hard as they could possibly make it.  If one of the tour players goes there next week and plays the same Ts, I bet they would play a lot better since the course set up will be easier.  The greens will be slower, pin placements easier, and the rough not as high.  If you take a course that the pros play that has a rating, I'm sure you could add a few strokes to the index R/T course set up, and then max out the slope for a bogey golfer during the week they are there.

And I would say a scratch golfer would shoot in the 90s and some in the 100s last week at merion.  Some pros shot in the 80s and they have + handicaps.

Quote:
Originally Posted by grubby98

But this weak at Merion the course was set up as close to hard as they could possibly make it.  If one of the tour players goes there next week and plays the same Ts, I bet they would play a lot better since the course set up will be easier.  The greens will be slower, pin placements easier, and the rough not as high.  If you take a course that the pros play that has a rating, I'm sure you could add a few strokes to the index R/T course set up, and then max out the slope for a bogey golfer during the week they are there.

And I would say a scratch golfer would shoot in the 90s and some in the 100s last week at merion.  Some pros shot in the 80s and they have + handicaps.

That was kinda my point- course conditions change all the time but rating and slope stay the same.  Some courses intentionally make it play harder/easier which causes biases in handicaps.

Quote:
Originally Posted by France46

That was kinda my point- course conditions change all the time but rating and slope stay the same.  Some courses intentionally make it play harder/easier which causes biases in handicaps.

I think you are a bit paranoid. Yes, course conditions constantly change, but it all averages out.

In our superintendents revenge tourney, all tee boxes were pushed back, all pins were either on a peak or somewhere that if you missed a putt you were well off of the green and there were a ton of people that shot close to their HC.

It is doubtful that you are only playing courses when they are extremely different than when they were rated, so once again, it works out in the end.
Quote:
Originally Posted by meenman

I think you are a bit paranoid. Yes, course conditions constantly change, but it all averages out.

In our superintendents revenge tourney, all tee boxes were pushed back, all pins were either on a peak or somewhere that if you missed a putt you were well off of the green and there were a ton of people that shot close to their HC.

It is doubtful that you are only playing courses when they are extremely different than when they were rated, so once again, it works out in the end.

I play a variety of courses, days, times, etc. so you are right that it evens out for me.  However, I don't think the same is true for all courses and all golfers.

If a guy plays once a week at the same course/time of day, there could definitely be biases for many reasons including the following examples:

1.  Courses that make it intentionally easier on certain days (i.e. Sunday mixed couples day)

2.  Courses that make it intentionally harder on certain days (i.e. Men' comp day)

3.  Courses that routinely move certain tees up in front of where they are rated (i.e. for speed of play or safety reasons)

4.  Courses that tend to play harder/easier in the afternoon/morning (i.e. because of wind, weather patterns or smoothness of the greens)

5.  Courses that mow the rough the same day of the week.

Quote:
Originally Posted by France46

I play a variety of courses, days, times, etc. so you are right that it evens out for me.  However, I don't think the same is true for all courses and all golfers.

If a guy plays once a week at the same course/time of day, there could definitely be biases for many reasons including the following examples:

1.  Courses that make it intentionally easier on certain days (i.e. Sunday mixed couples day)

2.  Courses that make it intentionally harder on certain days (i.e. Men' comp day)

3.  Courses that routinely move certain tees up in front of where they are rated (i.e. for speed of play or safety reasons)

4.  Courses that tend to play harder/easier in the afternoon/morning (i.e. because of wind, weather patterns or smoothness of the greens)

5.  Courses that mow the rough the same day of the week.

You should have seen the handicaps skyrocket at the club where I used to be a member when the course basically ran out of money and started almost never mowing the rough (or the fairways very often for that matter).

Didn't matter much except when a player would go to a handicapped event at another course. Then they looked like the biggest sandbagger ever, and they actually weren't sandbagging at all.

This is a fantastic thread!  Rating/Slope should be required reading for every golfer.  Unfortunately, I see many golfers that have no idea just what kind of impact rating/yardage/slope have to their golf game.

It seems to me that the courses in the area that I live/play in are regularly updated/changed.  I belong to a country club and have been a member since late last September.  Just in that time the rating/slope has been updated twice by the USGA/Maryland Golf Association.  I made a comment not too long ago in another thread about how it seems that when someone breaks 80 that it is some kind of level or accomplishment that makes you a good golfer.  The actual answer to that is that it depends.

A guy in my office recently shot a 73.  Many people in the office were treating this as some kind of Ruthian achievement.  The reality of this guy's 73 was that it was shot on a par 70 course that was 5800 yards, had just a 67 rating and had a 115 slope.  So yes he was just 3 over par for the round, but he was actually about 7 over being "scratch".  This resulted in an argument because many people believe that one that shoots par is a scratch golfer.  Obviously this is not necessarily true, it is only true if par is equal to the course rating.  The guy who shot the 73 was well aware of this too, so it was not like I was bringing him down.  He was amused because all these people were treating him like he was much better than he was (side note - great guy who is my friend and is a good golfer, would be even better if he played more).

What is frustrating to me is that unless the course you are playing at was just recently graded, there is a chance that you are playing on a course that could be much easier or much harder than the rating/slope.  To this I think that the rough of a course is a HUGE variable.  As I mentioned, my country club was recently graded (in April).  Since then we've had a lot of rain and the rough has grown.  Thus it is much thicker/longer than it was when the course was graded.  Also, since I play early Saturday/Sunday mornings most of the time, this same rough is also very wet/sticky in addition to being longer/thicker than when the course was graded.  So while the USGA was airing commercials this past weekend during the US Open about how their handicap system is fair, I am calling bullsh*t to that.  The handicap system is not fair at all.  I started another thread about this (because my hc is higher than the rate that I am improving/scoring, nobody will play me and there is no way to adjust this, in addition I am being labeled a sandbagger by some at my club when it's not my fault at all).  Per the USGA website a handicap is supposed to be based more on potential than average.  Thus if someone shoots a score that is a hc rating of 9.0 for example then according to the handicap being based on potential, to make things fair, the hc should be equal AT LEAST to the lowest score or pretty close to it, yet in some situations the actual hc can be several strokes off the POTENTIAL.

Since all of this ties into ratings and slope, to answer the op's question, I'd say that in my opinion, most of the time things do not add up as they should.  Golf is supposed to be a fair game, yet unless a course is rated very often for rating/slope, it is far from fair.  There are also situations where a course is much easier than the rating/slope as the OP pointed out and this is not fair either.  Someone can take advantage of that situation.  From what I've seen though it seems that most of the time it's the opposite that happens:  a course is rated in early spring before the rough gets thick/long and thus golfers who only want fairness are stuck playing a course that should be rated higher.

Sorry for my rant...this just really upsets me because I have only been playing golf for 1 year and 18 days.  I was informed and learned that golf is supposed to be fair and since it's been a short time since I started playing, this is fresh in my mind.  We are being told that it's fair and the USGA even runs commercials during the US Open claiming that it's fair when in reality it's anything but.

When I was mowing the rough yesterday I found 7 new looking golf balls within a few feet of the fairways. All of them would have been very playable if the people that hit them there had found them. Three of them were on a par five and were just about the right distance from the tee box to have been an almost perfect drive (and very long). I bet those left some aggravated golfers.

Where I work we mow pretty regularly but the grass is VERY thick Bermuda and the last day or two before we mow it's just high enough to hide a golf ball unless you happened to step on it.

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