In November 2020, the launch of the World Handicap System (WHS) saw the replacement of the CONGU handicap (used to play on all courses) with a Handicap Index. This is a base handicap from which we derive a variable Course Handicap which is calculated for play on each course or set of tees on the same course.
Our CONGU handicap was assessed by measure against the Standard Scratch Score (SSS) which defined the difficulty of each course for the Scratch golfer.
SSS is now known as ‘Course Rating’ & the additional introduction of Slope Rating determines the Course Handicap for non-scratch players on that same course.
Course Rating is a measure of the playing difficulty of a Course’s set of tees for Scratch Men & Scratch Women (Handicap Index 0.0) golfers and provides, as before, the most meaningful basis for comparison of the relative playing difficulties of different sets of tees of that Course and of other Courses.
Slope Rating is a measure of the playing difficulty of a Course’s set of tees for Bogey Men (Handicap Index 20.0) & Bogey Women (Handicap Index 24.0) golfers relative to the playing difficulty of that same set of tees for a Scratch golfer.
Please note that Slope gives no indication of the relative playing difficulty between different sets of tees of that course and of other Courses.
While the CR/Slope ratings of all Surrey’s 105 Courses were successfully completed prior to the launch of WHS, all Courses are required to be re-rated at least once every 10 years, or when any significant permanent changes such as increases or decreases in excess of 100 yards in overall length, or the addition or removal of significant hazards are made.
The Rating Process
The WHS requires that Ratings are conducted: -
a) for each set of Tees from which “qualifying for handicap” competitions are run
b) during the main playing season (i.e., between early - mid April and early October) when there is clear fairway “definition” and “canopy” on trees.
Ratings are based in the first instance on the measured length, so it is essential that a Club’s Measurement Certificates are accurate & current (and less than 10 year’s old), together with an assessment of effective playing length adjustments and the impact of 10 obstacle factors on the scoring ability of Scratch & Bogey, Men & Women, golfers.
Prior to any Rating being conducted, Clubs due to be rated will be requested, usually in January, to provide the following: -
a) completed Course Rating Questionnaire
b) certified Course Measurement Certificate(s) for all tees to be rated
c) Score Card(s) for all tees to be rated
d) Course Planner (if available)
Upon provision of this information one of the County’s Lead Raters will contact the Club to schedule the required Rating visits, usually 2 visits involving between 2 & 6 raters, depending upon the number of sets of gender Tees to be rated.
During the rating visits the Rating team have to take detailed measurements and conduct detailed assessments of each & every hole, so in order to enable them to work quickly, efficiently, and safely, the use of Buggies would be most beneficial, and they will need a space on the course of at least 60 minutes on the first tee.
While not essential, it has proven beneficial, if the team can be assisted “On Course” by an appropriate member of staff, a Club Official, or a Club Member.
Upon completion of the visits, the team’s assessments will be submitted to England Golf for their approval, at which time England Golf will send the new WHS Course & Slope Rating certificates & Handicap Tables to your Club.
Course rating is a service provided by the County and is free of charge to affiliated Clubs.
Note: Clubs are asked not to apply for a set of tees to be rated if there is no intention of using them for singles play for maintaining handicap (i.e., qualifying competition or casual card for handicap). It creates unnecessary work for raters and club management.
How do I know if my course requires re-rating?
The County Rating Team know when your course was last rated and have a schedule, by year, for re-rating every course in Surrey.
The system was introduced in 2014 and those courses rated in the early years from 2014 will need to be rerated earlier than the 10-year requirement so that the County rating team reach a steady rate of about 10% of the 105 courses every year.
Courses which are scheduled to be rated in any given year will be contacted at the beginning of that year to discuss exactly what is involved and to agree mutually convenient dates when such re-rating may be conducted.
Where a course is not scheduled to be re-rated but has been significantly changed (i.e., any increase or decrease of more than 100 yards in total length, or where significant hazards have been added or removed) the Club must inform the County Secretary who will advise on what further action, if any, is required.
Course Rating Volunteers
Without doubt this is a complicated & time consuming process that requires a lot of volunteers, meaning we have an ongoing need for more volunteers, to not only assist with ratings, but also to become Lead Raters, for which full training will be given.
We are looking for golfers of all standards, both men & women, who are comfortable communicating with Clubs, leading small teams, using course measurement equipment, such as GPS devices & laser rangefinders. It is essential that the Lead Rater is familiar with Excel spreadsheets, Dropbox and are interested in course management / layout & enjoy attention to detail.
If you have any questions about course rating or are interested in becoming involved in course rating, please contact your County Course Rating Team at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Appendix G of the Rules of Handicapping document provides information about the Course Measurement, Course Rating and Slope Rating, and Modification of Courses
Change Request Forms can be found at https://www.englandgolf.org/handicapping/club-resources/