Prior to January 2014, the 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 England Golf Union, while for women ratings were assessed on the basis of the universally accepted standard rating system – namely the USGA Rating system.
All Course Ratings in England are now conducted using the USGA Rating System to find the Course Standard Scratch Score.
The rules relating to the USGA Scratch Scores 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 such as significant increases or decreases in overall length or the addition of water or extreme rough affecting multiple holes).
The relevant tees on all courses need to be re-rated for men using the USGA system and this will occur progressively over the next 10 years - in the meantime all existing ratings remain valid.
The USGA website has ratings for the golf courses. Please note, that UK users need to leave the ‘Club State’ field blank when searching.
The process of rating a course involves a team of either 4 or 6 raters who visit the course and 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 from tables produced by the USGA and used globally in rating courses. The results of these measurements, and the ‘rating values’ accumulated, are converted, using computer programmes, into the number of ‘strokes’ which should be required to play a course of that specified length and difficulty.
This is assessed for scratch men and women golfers – and for the so called Bogey golfers – which for men is a 20 handicapper and for women a 24 handicapper.
Such a rating process usually requires at least four hours on the course and about the same again running through the results. These must then be submitted via England Golf to the USGA for approval.
There are basically two very simple pre-requisites:
The length of a course usually contributes approximately 40% of the final Scratch rating for both men and women and therefore it is essential to know that the length of each hole has been formally and accurately measured according to the strict rules defined by CONGU.
Course rating is a service provided by the Gloucestershire Golf Union and is free of charge to affiliated clubs.
The County Rating Team know when your course was last rated and have a schedule for re-rating every course in Gloucestershire. It is expected this will have been achieved by the end of 2023.
Courses which are scheduled to be rated 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.
Where 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 Secretary who will advise on what further action, if any, is required.
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 the sensible standard guidelines are:
1. There is clear ‘fairway definition’
2. There should be ‘canopy’ on the trees
In most instances this means not starting before early to mid-April and not rating after mid-October.
The USGA system does not permit courses to be rated for winter play and does not consider that the USGA Scratch Score provides a sensible basis for qualifying competitions during winter conditions.
In principle, anyone who can demonstrate the necessary skills and commitment can become a course rater.
The basic skills required are numeracy, the ability to use distance measuring equipment such as GPS devices and lasers and to legibly record the information that is found.
Rating Team Leaders are also expected to have a basic level of computer literacy.
The most successful raters are often those who have previous experience in club competitions and handicapping committees and/or greens committees. Having been a low handicap player (although not a pre-requisite) is definitely an asset.
If you have any questions about course rating or are interested in becoming involved in course rating please contact your Course Rating Team via the County Secretary at firstname.lastname@example.org