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Rating a Course From a Women’s Perspective Women’s Golf Association of Northern California

n the past three issues of NCGA Golf, Director of Course Rating and Hand-

icapping Jim Cowan did an excellent job of explaining course rating. The articles included an explanation of the procedure itself and showed pictures of various landing zones.

Although men and

women use the same USGA Handicap and Course Rat- ing System, the men’s and women’s ratings must be done by different groups because the landing zones are quite different. A scratch male golfer drives the ball 250 yards, while the female scratch golfer drives it 210 yards. The difference is even more between the male “bogey” golfer, who drives it 200 yards, and the female “bogey” golfer who gets 150 yards from her drives. The rating procedure includes evaluating obstacles in these landing zones. The scratch obstacle numbers are used to produce the course rating and the bogey obstacle numbers are used to produce the slope rating.

The course rating, for example, 72.8, shows what the Scratch player should shoot on his or her good day, and the slope demon- strated the difficulty of the course for the bogey player in comparison to the scratch player. It is possible to get a “picture” of a course by looking at both numbers. A women’s rating and slope of 68.5/130 depicts a short course with lots of obstacles, while a women’s rating and slope of 74.3/122 represents a long course with few obstacles. The process all starts with a course laser measure- ment. Each hole has to have a permanent marker for each tee. Yardage remains the most significant obsta- cle, so it is imperative that it is correct. We are very fortunate that the NCGA does GPS measurements for all our courses and shares this information with the two women’s associations in Northern California. The Women’s Golf As-

sociation of Northern Cali- fornia rates all the private

courses as well as several of the resort courses, while the Pacific Women’s Golf As- sociation rates all the public courses and also several of the resort courses. Often the two associations rate together for the continuity of rating. The WGANC has nine different areas, and each area has a course rating co-chairman, who attends a USGA Course Rating Calibration every two years. If you read Cowan’s

articles, you know the other obstacles evaluated are topography, fairway width, target length to reach the green, height of rough and kind of grass, bunker number and dif- ficulty, out of bounds, water, trees and green surface. Roll, doglegs and wind are also considered. The co-chairman of the

area where a course is being rated makes an advance trip to the club to measure fairway widths, green size and compute the percent- age of the greens that are protected by bunkers. On the day of the rating there

are at least eight raters in attendance, with four ladies evaluating the front nine while the other four do the back nine. There is always a co-chairman with each group. Raters generally play the nine holes first in order to check the amount of roll (20 yards is average), as well as to judge how easy it is to hit a ball out of the rough. Rough and Recoverabil- ity is the most important obstacle other than yardage. A change of 1 inch in the length of rough, can change the slope by as much as 5! The chart below shows the potential impact of other maintenance procedures. As you can see, a greens- keeper could certainly make a rating inaccurate, simply by growing or cutting the rough, or even placing the tee markers in the wrong place or on the wrong tee. The players at the club should be aware of any dras- tic changes to the course, so they can be reported to the association for adjustment. Any change in yardage is most important. Twenty- two yards is equal to .1 on the rating for men and eigh- teen yards is equal to .1 for women. If the tee markers were placed just 180 yards shorter than they should be for the 18 holes, the rating would be off by 1 stroke, and that could certainly af- fect a golfer’s handicap.

Sheri Erskine has rated golf courses since 1982, and has served on the USGA women’s handicap procedure committee.

In summary, moving tee markers or cutting heights and watering practices on all 18 holes can increase or decrease the USGA course and slope ratings as demonstrated in the table above (women’s figures are in brackets).

FALL 2014 / NCGA.ORG / 71

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