This month we look at the progress being made with the rating of all South African courses using the world standard USGA course rating system.
USGA Course Rating Update
The provincial unions, under the guidance and assistance of Eric Lefson, who is Golf RSA’s course rating manager, have rated 122 courses in South Africa using the USGA course rating system. By province, these are: Western Province 19 (complete), Boland 39 (complete), Southern Cape 19, Eastern Province 16, Free State 15, Gauteng North 10, Northern Cape 2, Limpopo 1, Border 1.
The majority of the annual affiliation fee that you pay to your provincial union each year goes towards the running of amateur golf in your province, and that includes the running of all amateur competitions and the funding of the amateur teams and provincial golf tournaments. Along with this, the provincial unions are also responsible for rating the courses in their provinces. While historically this was a fairly simple task, and based mainly on the length of the holes on the course, rating a course using the USGA rating system, which is used around the world and is more accurate than the current rating system, takes a long time and usually involves a team of three people. This also involves additional cost to the union. Golf RSA is confident that by the end of 2017 the majority of courses in South Africa will have been rated.
If we look at the current and USGA ratings of some well-known courses, as per the list below, you will notice that there is a trend for the USGA rating to be around one shot higher, meaning that the average golfer’s handicap would go down by approximately one shot. If, however, you look at the slope ratings (the difference between the rating for a scratch golfer and a 19-handicap golfer), you can see that there is quite a difference between the slope of the courses.
Over the next few years, South Africa will join the rest of the world in adopting the slope rating system. Golf RSA will, of course, provide adequate warning, extensive communication and training.
The main difference is that the slope system recognises that some courses are much harder for a higher handicap player than the standard/scratch rating and so higher handicaps get a higher handicap when playing a course/tee with a high slope rating.
Under a slope system, each player will have a handicap index, which will be to one decimal place, for example 18,4 or 12,6.
If the player with an 18,4 handicap listed above were to play Fancourt Montagu from the green tees (with a course rating of 74 and a slope rating of 140), we would calculate his playing handicap as follows: Current Handicap * Slope Rating / 113.
(So, in this case, 18,4 * 140 / 113 = 22,79).
The 113 is the base standard slope for a course—any rating above that is harder and below that is easier.
The handicap would be rounded down or up to the nearest whole number, so he would play off a 23. Similarly, the 12,6-handicap player would play off a playing handicap of 16.
At Pearl Valley, off the black tees, their playing handicaps would be 24 and 17 respectively, while off Centurion’s white tees, they would play off 21 and 15 respectively.
It may seem complicated to calculate your playing handicap for the day, but courses will have these slope tables for each tee available and you will therefore know your playing handicap before you tee off. The handicap system will also give you your playing handicap when you register for your round at the club.
When you enter your adjusted gross score, as you do now, the system will calculate: Handicap Differential = Adjusted Gross Score - Course Rating * 113 / Slope rating.
Based on the fact that the USGA course ratings are on average slightly higher than our existing ratings, it is not possible to introduce the new ratings by province.
It is also possible and likely that South Africa will introduce the USGA standard or scratch rating without introducing slope at the same time.
Have You Tried The HNA Handicaps GPS App?
The new GPS integration into our HNA Handicaps App is proving to be very popular with South African golfers, as it provides accurate 3D hole maps and precise distance indicators while you are on the course.
We have a free trial version for you to test out—loaded with the first three holes of most courses in the country. If you like it and want the full 18-hole version, you can upgrade for as little as R139.99.
The GPS App is available on Apple iOS only.
Quote of the Month
'Golf, like the measles, should be caught young, for, if postponed to riper years, the results may be serious.' ~ P.G. Wodehouse