Golfer Pacific

Is the US Course Rating System a winner?

Posted in Australian Golf by golferpacific on March 25, 2009

THE smiles will be seen at golf clubs all over the country this month.

That’s because Golf Australia has ended one of the most controversial topics in club golf by agreeing to adopt the United States Golf Association Course Rating System.

Now this is not to be confused with the topical US Slope Handicap System, but it looks like we’re halfway to resolving that too.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a topic that has generated so much response than course ratings and handicapping.

The landmark decision to change our course rating procedures last month follows a lengthy period of review and will see the existing Australian Women’s Course Rating System and Australian Men’s Course Rating System put on the scrapheap where, the general consensus suggests, they rightfully belong.

Whether or not the old system was fair and accurate is now irrelevant because Golfer Pacific readers will be over the moon by this latest development, based on the letters I receive slamming the old systems.

“We’ve spent the past three years on a process which has involved inviting feedback and then listening to what everyone has to say,” Golf Australia’s Anne Lenagan said.

“This outcome is a genuine good-news story for the industry, and takes us further down the path of removing unnecessary inconsistencies between women’s and men’s handicapping in Australia.”

I think ‘inconsistencies’ is the key word here and I applaud the sport’s governing body for taking action and allowing us to link up with the rest of the world’s golfing population.

I would think Golf Australia CEO Stephen Pitt shares a similar view and he said Australian golfers could now look forward to the many benefits of the new system.

“The USGA Course Rating System is considered world’s best practice and is the result of significant financial and scientific investment,” he said.

“It is exciting that all Australian clubs and handicap players will now be exposed to the benefits experienced by most golfers around the world.”

So, what exactly can Golfer Pacific readers expect out of the popular US system?

“Fundamentally, this will see the ‘actual measured length’ of a course being replaced by ‘effective playing length’, and that’s important because the course rating will now reflect what it is that the golfer encounters,” Golf Australia Handicapping and Course Rating Committee chairman Ian Read said.

“This means giving greater consideration to the factors we all know make such a difference.

“And I’m talking about the obvious things such as roll, elevation, prevailing wind, altitude, and forced lay-ups caused by dog-legs and dams or streams, etc.

“It really is a major step forward.”

A step forward all right – we will now have a course rated with logic, taking into account everything that makes it unique and difficult, not just its distance or lack of.

Clubs will use the new scratch ratings immediately when their course has been re-rated, with the implementation timetable being as follows:

• Approximately 120 personnel to be trained throughout

Australia between June and October 2009.

This will include the USGA conducting seminars in Australia in June.

• September 2009, begin rating courses with an initial concentration on new and changed courses.

• By the end of 2011 it is expected that all courses will have been completed, with most metropolitan courses to be finished by the end of 2010.

Golf Australia will determine the future direction of the Australian handicapping system (and CCR) following a state forum to be held at the end of the month, where it is anticipated they may choose to adopt the most talked about topic in club golf – the

US Slope System.

What are your thoughts on these changes?

Do you think it will benefit club golf in Australia?



2 Responses to 'Is the US Course Rating System a winner?'

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  1. Peter James said,

    I have no technical issue with the American course rating system but I understand that this system is patented and will require GA to pay a licence fee to use it. I beleive that this will also apply to the slope handicapping system, if adopted. I have seen no discussion of the cost of license fees, which ultimately Australian golfers will pay for. If this is indeed the case,Golf Australia should make these costs public before making a committment.

  2. john said,

    I absolutly applaud GA action and hope that all states ratify the adoption of the rating method and the slope handicapping system at the same time.
    It’s a no brainer this move and has huge merit especially when the transportability of handicaps and the ability to use different tee’s in the same competition is considered.
    Every aspect of the system’s are very well thought out and should make for a better method of handicapping going forward.

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