What is the Slope of a Golf Course

The slope of a golf course is a measure of the relative difficulty of a golf course for players who are not scratch golfers (i.e., those who are not professionals). It is calculated by comparing a player’s score on a particular golf course to the course rating, which is a measure of the expected score for a scratch golfer.

Rangefinder on Discount

The slope rating takes into account factors such as the length of the course, the number of hazards, the amount of rough, and the speed of the greens, among other factors. A higher slope rating indicates a more difficult course for the average player, while a lower slope rating indicates an easier course.

The slope rating is expressed as a number between 55 and 155, with 113 being the average. A slope rating of 113 indicates that the course is of average difficulty for the average golfer .

Golf CourseSlope RatingSlope DifficultyCourse HandicapRecommended TeeAverage Score
Pebble Beach144Very Difficult16Championship88
Augusta National135Difficult13Tournament85
St. Andrews129Moderately Difficult11White81
Pinehurst No. 2135Difficult13Blue85
Bethpage Black144Very Difficult16Championship88
Torrey Pines128Moderately Difficult10White80
Oakmont141Very Difficult15Championship87
Merion Golf Club144Very Difficult16Championship88
Winged Foot144Very Difficult16Championship88
Muirfield Village135Difficult13Tournament85
Shinnecock Hills140Very Difficult15Championship87
Royal Melbourne138Very Difficult14Championship86
Valderrama143Very Difficult16Championship88
Royal Portrush135Difficult13Championship85
Bethpage Red121Moderately Difficult8White76
Kiawah Island144Very Difficult16Championship88
Baltusrol142Very Difficult15Championship87
Carnoustie145Very Difficult17Championship90
Congressional138Very Difficult14Championship86
Oakland Hills138Very Difficult14Championship86

Note that the course handicap, recommended tee, and average score are calculated based on the USGA Course Rating System and may vary depending on a player’s individual handicap and the specific tee and conditions of the course.

The “Course Handicap” column is the number of strokes a player should receive based on their handicap and the slope rating of the course. This is important information for players to determine their net score and compete on a level playing field with golfers of different abilities.

The “Recommended Tee” column is the tee color that is recommended for players based on their handicap and the slope rating of the course. This can help players choose the appropriate tees to play from to ensure an enjoyable and challenging round.

The “Average Score” column is the average score that a player with a certain handicap would be expected to shoot on the course based on the slope rating. This can help players set realistic expectations for their performance on the course and identify areas for improvement in their game.

The “Slope Difficulty” column is a subjective assessment of how difficult the slope rating makes the course for average golfers, based on the following general guidelines:

  • Slope Rating 55-70: Easy
  • Slope Rating 71-90: Moderately Easy
  • Slope Rating 91-120: Moderately Difficult
  • Slope Rating 121-140: Difficult
  • Slope Rating 141-155: Very Difficult

Note that these guidelines are not official and may vary depending on the golf course and individual golfers’ abilities.

Note that these slope ratings are subject to change and may vary depending on the tees used, weather conditions, and other factors. Also, different golf courses may use different rating systems, so this table is just an example.

Additional Information On Golf Club’s Slope:

  • Slope rating is just one aspect of golf course difficulty: While slope rating is an important factor in determining the difficulty of a golf course, it’s not the only factor. Other factors like the length of the course, the layout of the holes, and the condition of the greens and fairways can also affect the difficulty of a course.
  • Slope rating is used to calculate course handicap: The slope rating of a golf course is used to calculate a player’s course handicap, which is an adjustment made to a player’s handicap index based on the difficulty of the course they’re playing. The higher the slope rating, the higher the course handicap adjustment.
  • Slope rating can vary depending on tee selection: The slope rating of a golf course can vary depending on which set of tees you play from. Generally, the farther back you play, the higher the slope rating will be. This is because longer tees typically require longer, more accurate shots, which can be more difficult for many golfers.
  • Slope rating can affect pace of play: Because higher slope ratings generally mean more difficult courses, playing a course with a high slope rating can often take longer than playing a course with a lower slope rating. This is because players may need more time to plan and execute their shots, leading to slower play.
  • Slope rating can affect tournament play: In tournament play, the slope rating of a course can be an important factor in determining the overall winner. Because tournament courses are typically set up to be more difficult than standard courses, the winner of a tournament may be someone who is able to navigate the course’s challenges more successfully than their competitors.
  • Slope rating can impact course design: Golf course architects take slope rating into account when designing a course. They may create challenging tee shots, undulating fairways, and tricky greens to increase the slope rating and make the course more difficult. Conversely, they may design an easier course with a lower slope rating if the course is intended for beginner or recreational golfers.
  • Slope rating can vary by country: While the USGA Slope Rating System is used in many countries around the world, other countries have their own systems for measuring golf course difficulty. For example, in the United Kingdom, golf courses are rated based on the Standard Scratch Score (SSS), which takes into account the length of the course, the number of hazards, and the quality of the greens.
  • Golfers should choose the right tee for their ability level: Golfers of different ability levels should choose a tee that corresponds to their skill level. A tee that is too difficult can make the game frustrating, while a tee that is too easy can make the game boring. Golfers can use the course handicap system to determine which tee is appropriate for them.
  • Slope rating can affect golf course rankings: Many golf course rankings take into account the slope rating of the courses being considered. For example, Golf Digest’s ranking of the 100 Greatest Golf Courses in the United States includes slope rating as one of the criteria for selection.
  • Golfers should not focus too much on slope rating: While slope rating is an important factor in determining the difficulty of a golf course, golfers should not become too fixated on it. The enjoyment of the game should be the primary focus, and golfers should choose courses that offer the right balance of challenge and enjoyment for their individual skill levels.

What is the Slope of a Golf Course


  • Ray Barnes

    Ray Barnes, our Senior Staff Writer and a Golf Analyst with a PhD in Sports Analytics, is a beacon of insight in the golfing world. With a deep understanding of the sport's nuances, statistical analysis, and a talent for demystifying complexities, he provides in-depth analysis and captivating narratives that engage golf enthusiasts worldwide.

Leave a Comment