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One of the interesting things about playing golf in the USA is the Rating & Slope system run by the USGA (http://www.usga.org). The basic aim seems to be to even out a players handicap based on the relative ease of their home course compared to other courses.

Take the table below for the first five courses I’ve played in the last week.

Course Course Length Rating/Slope Course Hcp Score
Presidio 6,414 72.3/136 9 +10
Crystal Springs 6,212 70.3/125 9 +11
Blackhorse 6,533 71.4/136 9 +11
Poppy Hills 6,559 73.0/141 10 +19
Indian Canyons North 6,482 70/5/123 8 +6

Bearing in mind my exact handicap at my home course (http://www.henburygolfclub.co.uk) is 7.7 this shows how that would vary if it was a USGA handicap. Now, of course, my home course does not have a Rating or Slope so it’s not a true comparison, but the interesting thing is the relative differences between just these five courses.

Look at my scores. Poppy Hills by far and away the worst. I had at least one double bogey on every course and a treble on at least two of them, so in terms of my “game” it was all pretty consistent. The obvious exception is Indian Canyons. This course was “flat”, so if this qualifies for a 123 I’d hate to see how flat a 55 slope is (the range is 55 to 155).

So, my question. How would this system work in the UK in terms of levelling out handicaps even more. For example, a couple of my friends play almost all their golf at Burnham & Berrow (http://www.burnhamandberrowgolfclub.co.uk/) a fabulous links course in the South West. Their low teens handicaps would clearly be lower at other, easier courses.

For more information on Rating/Slope calculations see the USGA website.