October 14, 2020

Course Rating---Under the Hood of Your Handicap

One of the benefits of NCGA membership is a core foundation of the game of golf – your unique official USGA handicap index. You use this GHIN number to enter your 9 or 18-hole scores into the my NCGA mobile app, a golf course kiosk or online website – all connected to the World Handicap System.

Starting this year, with the WHS, your index is re-calculated every day with a set of algorithms. This all sounds like a simple database automation, but it is just the tip of the iceberg. What goes into making it all happen is much more impressive.

Just think about it – when you enter your score, you are indicating which course you played and from which set of tees. Part of the handicap calculation is course rating and slope. No doubt you see these numbers on the course scorecard. Who figured them out? NCGA Course Raters! A best-in-class team–which includes volunteers–visits every course in Northern California to rate the relative difficulty of scoring a par on that course for a typical scratch golfer and a typical bogey golfer.

These course ratings take a full day and follow a comprehensive process that includes (1) identifying course obstacles such as topography, bunkers, fairways, rough, green surface, water and trees (2) playing the course and (3) recording and analyzing all the detailed data to produce the course rating and slope – for each tee.

Courses are rated every six years unless substantial changes are made that would impact the course difficulty. This process and the know-how of the raters assures the integrity of the handicap index calculation.

This is just one of the behind-the-scenes NCGA benefits that help you enjoy golf wherever you play in Northern California.

Interested in learning more? Visit ncga.org/handicap/course-rating.