The USGA Course Rating System™ is the standard upon which the USGA Handicap System™ is built. It affects all golfers in the calculation of a Handicap Index®. Players “play to their handicaps,” when their net scores (gross score minus handicap strokes) equal the USGA Course Rating™.
The USGA Course Rating System takes into account the factors that affect the playing difficulty of a golf course.
Course rating teams from authorized golf associations carry out the on-course portion of the rating process. Authorized golf associations review the work of the teams and then issue ratings.
Accuracy and consistency are the keys to effective course rating. A course must first be accurately measured. The measured yardage must then be corrected for the effective playing length. These effective playing length corrections are roll, elevation, dogleg/forced lay-up, prevailing wind, and altitude. Obstacles that affect playing difficulty must then be evaluated in accordance with established standards. These standards increase objectivity in course rating.
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