OGA Uses Course Ratings To Ensure Fair Play

Wednesday, May 6th 2015, 5:23 pm
By: News On 6

Before golfers tee off, a course rating team from the Oklahoma Golf Association measures every detail.

What's their goal? Determine a course rating and slope rating used to calculate handicaps.

"[It] is an effort to rate courses using the same set of data, the same scales, so that if a person is a five handicapper at let's say LaFortune and they want to go play at Meadowbrook, it will be equitable," OGA rating team chairman Morri Rose explained.

The rating process assumes a scratch golfer will hit it 250 yards off the tee, and a bogey golfer will hit it 200 yards. From there, the team judges how difficult the approach shot is.

"About 80 percent of a course rating is going to be the distance you're going to be hitting into the target, and the size of the target, which makes sense," Rose said. "The longer the shot, the smaller the target, the more difficult the shot is going to be."

The United States Golf Association defines a course rating as "the evaluation of the playing difficulty of a course for scratch golfers under normal course and weather conditions. It is expressed as the number of strokes taken to one decimal place, and is based on yardage and other obstacles to the extent that they affect the scoring difficulty of the scratch golfer." The USGA calculates the slope rating as "the measurement of the relative playing difficulty of a course for players who are not scratch golfers, compared to scratch golfers. It is computed from the difference between the Bogey Rating and the USGA Course Rating times a constant factor and is expressed as a whole number from 55 to 155."

The rating team looks at factors like elevation, roll, wind, lie angle, bunkers, water hazards, out of bounds, width of the fairways and greens, slope of the greens, and speed of the greens. The final result comes from a computer program.

"Once we have it all calculated, they bring it to me. I take it to the office, he punches it in on the computer and he has the program the USGA uses," Rose said. "When [GHIN services director Jay Doudican] types it in, it goes to Far Hills, New Jersey, and the course rating here is kept by the USGA."

Oaks Country Club head golf professional Rick Reed added, "It's just a level playing field so somebody can't sandbag you. You want to have an honest handicap, and that's what the USGA has done with the slope rating and the index and all that."

All that, should lead to fair play and better matches at a golf course near you. 

Oklahoma's Toughest Golf Courses

Ratings calculated by the USGA and provided by the Oklahoma Golf Association.

1. Oak Tree National, Edmond (Black Tees): 79.3 rating/155 slope, 7,504 yards

2. Cedar Ridge Country Club, Tulsa (Gold Tees): 77.6 rating/138 slope, 7,473 yards

3. Karsten Creek Golf Club, Stillwater (Tournament Tees): 77.2 rating/138 slope, 7,407 yards

4. Gaillardia Country Club, Oklahoma City (Tournament Tees): 76.9 rating/141 slope, 7,251 yards

5. Southern Hills Country Club, Tulsa (Blue Tees): 76.8 rating/146 slope, 7,218 yards

6. Oak Tree Country Club - East Course, Edmond (Gold Tees): 76.3 rating/139 slope, 7,116 yards

7. Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club, Norman (I Tees): 75.9 rating/131 slope, 7,387 yards

8. Chickasaw Pointe Golf Club, Kingston (Black Tees): 75.6 rating/134 slope, 7,085 yards

9. WinStar Golf Course - South/West, Thackerville (Black Tees): 75.6 rating/126 slope, 7,173 yards

10. Forest Ridge Golf Club, Broken Arrow (Tournament Tees): 75.5 rating/147 slope, 7,083 yards