The Course Rating System is an integral aspect of the World Handicap System, working together with the Rules of Handicapping to allow for enjoyable and equitable play between golfers. The purpose of the Course Rating System is to measure and rate the relative difficulty of golf courses so that a player’s Handicap Index is accurate and transportable from golf course to golf course, and tee to tee. The Course Rating System takes into account factors that affect the playing difficulty of a golf course including measured length, effective playing length and a number of obstacle factors such as topography, bunkering, recoverability from rough, crossing & lateral obstacles, trees, etc.

The Course Rating System consists of two basic elements:

Course Rating – the evaluation of the playing difficulty of a course for scratch golfers under normal course and weather conditions expressed as number of strokes (e.g. 72.5).

Slope Rating – the evaluation of the relative difficulty of a course for players who are not scratch golfers compared to the difficulty of the course for scratch golfers. The lowest Slope Rating is 55 and the highest 155. A course of standard playing difficulty will have a Slope Rating of 113. Accuracy and consistency are the keys to effective course rating. Golf Canada and the provincial golf associations work together to rate golf courses and ensure that Course Ratings are accurate and uniform from coast to coast. Only Golf Canada authorized provincial golf associations may rate golf courses. If a club disagrees with its ratings, it may request that the provincial golf association review the ratings.