What Does Slope Mean in the Golf World?

What Does Slope Mean in the Golf World?

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 golf course, and what its impact is on you and your level of play.

To start with, understand that every golf course will have a slope 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 golf 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 golf 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 slope 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 golf 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 golf 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 golf 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 slope 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. Slope 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 slope, 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 slope rating of the course to determine your actual handicap on that course, and this handicap will be arrived at by consulting a chart which will be posted at the golf course. As an example, someone with a 14.8 USGA Handicap Index playing a golf course with a 123 slope rating would receive 16 strokes as a handicap when playing against golfers of greater ability.

Since all golf 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 golf 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 golf 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 golf, as well as years of practicing their golf swing at home or at the driving range.

You can take advantage of the opportunity to improve your golf game right in your own backyard by purchasing a high-quality reconditioned 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 golf mats we offer, or about stocking up on refurbished golf balls for the season.