Course Rating
About Course Rating
When a golf course is rated, the rating team evaluates the overall difficulty of the golf course for both a scratch golfer and a bogey golfer. The rating established for the scratch golfer is known as the Course Rating. There is also a rating for the bogey player known as the Bogey Rating. This Bogey Rating is not normally published but is used to determine a Slope Rating. The Slope Rating is an evaluation of the relative difficulty of a course for players other than scratch.
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Understanding Slope

The book says slope for men is 5.381 times the difference between the scratch course rating and the bogey rating.  In actuality then, it is the course rating that determines the overall difficulty of a golf course.

So Slope really isn’t a measure of overall difficulty.  Rather, it’s a measure of the difference between difficulty for the scratch and bogey player.  And the number it comes up with is a hundred something…a meaningless number other than providing a reference point.

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Setting the Record Straight
How Tough is Tough? Knowing the true meaning of USGA Course and Slope Ratings can help you pick your Poison
We’ve all seen the golf magazine articles touting “Monster” courses in Michigan so big and bad they’ll make you cry in your golf towel. The problem is that these editors really don’t know how to pick the toughest courses. They rely on the common misconception that “slope” is the one true indicator of difficulty. Michigan Links sets the record straight, but fair warning: There’s some math involved.

The difficulty of every course is not the same for every golfer. It depends on the kind of player you are and the tees you choose to play from. So a single list of “tough” courses really won’t help. However, understanding what’s behind the USGA rating system can help you figure out what course is toughest for you.

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Michigan's "Toughest" Courses
A scratch golfer’s guide, by gender and tee
So enough with the math lessons you say? What are toughest courses in the state? Well, if you’ve read the accompanying story, you’ll know that there’s not one true answer — and slope is definitely not the true indicator. Not convinced yet? Consider this: The course with the highest slope rating in the state isn’t on this list. That’s not to say Cutter’s Ridge at Manistee National isn’t a difficult course. It is. But its 148 slope does not translate to a list-topping scratch rating (73.4) or bogey rating (100.9.)

Still need to know what’s the “toughest”? Well, for argument’s sake, the following pages list the top five scratch ratings for men and women on three sets of tees. As a public service, we’ve included the “bogey” rating for these courses. And just to belabor the point that a higher slope doesn’t necessarily mean tougher, we’ve put in those numbers, too.

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