What Does Slope Mean in the Golf World?

May 21, 2020 10:13 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

You may have heard the term slope rating in connection with golf, without ever having a clear idea of how it’s calculated, or what it even means to you as a player. The information below will help inform you about what slope means on a course, and what its impact is on you and your level of play.

To start with, understand that every course will have a gradient rating and that this number will have an effect on what your handicap will be when playing that particular course.

What Does Golf Slope Mean?

In the golfing world, slope is a term that refers to the relative difficulty of a golf course, and it is one of the factors which is used to determine a player’s handicap. Obviously, not all courses are created equal, and this makes it necessary to account for the difference between an extremely difficult course and a relatively easy course, where scores would be expected to be lower.

Is a Higher or Lower Slope Rating Harder?

With one important caveat, the higher the slope number is, the more difficult a course will be. The caveat comes into play because this definition really only applies to a bogey golfer, as opposed to a scratch golfer.

The gradient rating is actually meant to indicate how difficult a given course will be for a less-experienced golfer and not someone who has a superior game. Slope numbers for courses in the U.S. average around 113, although they can range anywhere between 55 and 155.

How is Golf Slope Calculated?

To calculate the slope for any course, it will be necessary to find out the bogey rating for the course, as well as the normal rating, which is what a scratch golfer might be expected to shoot.

For instance, a typical course would have a normal rating of 72 for a scratch golfer, which means a bogey golfer might be expected to shoot 90 on the same course. Then you would subtract the normal rating from the bogey rating, and multiply that difference by 5.381 for a male golfer, and 4.24 for a female golfer. Thus, in our example, the course gradient would be 97 for a male golfer, and 77 for a female golfer, assuming that the female bogey golfer rating is also 90.

How Does Slope Affect Handicap?

The slope rating is intended to adjust a golfer’s handicap to the actual course they are playing at the time, which theoretically allows a player of lesser ability to fairly compete with someone of greater ability. The gradient is calculated by using the mathematical formula described above, and when the scores of various golfers with different handicaps is plotted on a graph of courses having various degrees of difficulty, the results will show an ascending gradient, which is where the term derives its name.

Every player will have a USGA Handicap Index, which indicates their ability as demonstrated on a course of average difficulty. This number will be combined with the gradient rating of the course to determine your actual handicap on that course, and this handicap will be arrived at by consulting a chart that will be posted at the course. As an example, someone with a 14.8 USGA Handicap Index playing a course with a 123 rating would receive 16 strokes as a handicap when playing against golfers of greater ability.

Since all courses have a Course Handicap, it will be easy to determine what your handicap is for that course, after you’ve determined what your USGA Handicap Index is. You won’t have to memorize any of this, and you won’t have to do any calculations, because every course will be equipped with a Course Handicap and a chart which will tell you what your handicap should be on that course.

Improve Your Handicap at Home

The more you practice your swing, the lower your handicap will become. Most golfers start out with a relatively high handicap and gradually lower it after years of playing more, as well as years of practicing their swing at home or at the driving range.

You can take advantage of the opportunity to improve your game right in your own backyard by purchasing a high-quality preowned golf mat or a new golf mat from Rawhide Golf Ball Company, so you don’t even have to pay driving range prices for a bucket of balls. Contact us at Rawhide to inquire about any of the superior mats we offer, or about stocking up on refurbished balls for the season.

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