What Do Course Rating And Slope Mean?

Josh Kelley

Josh Kelley

SwingU Instructor

Course and slope rating are designed to tell a player how hard or how easy a course is from the different tee boxes. Without course and slope rating, the handicap system would not be possible.

The course rating is the score that a scratch golfer should expect to shoot from the designated tee box. Depending on the difficulty of the course, the rating could be above or below the actual par for the course. 

The slope rating of a golf course is a mark that describes the measure of difficulty for a bogey golfer relative to a scratch golfer at a specific set of tees. It describes the fact that when playing on a more difficult course, the scores of higher-handicapped players will rise more quickly than those of lower handicapped golfers. The slope rating of a set of tees predicts the straight-line rise in anticipated score versus USGA course handicap, as in the mathematical slope of a graph.

The course and slope ratings are re-evaluated once every 10 years by USGA-certified raters that will determine the difficulty both for the low-handicap and high-handicap player.