Australia adopts US course rating system

And it’s about bloody time too!

At long last Golf Australia has decided to implement the US course rating system which will come into effect for every golf course in Australia as soon as it has been re-rated.

Aussie Golfer has been pushing for this to happen for a long time. The current system is antiquated and Australia sits behind the rest of the world in this regard. This change also paves the way for a much better club competition and handicapping system.

Under the current system if a player has a handicap earned on difficult course, he (or she) will have an advantage when he competes against a player who carries the same handicap on an easier course. Under the new system, a golfer will consult a chart before play, to determine his handicap before a round at a different course.

The re-ratings will begin in September 2009 with the majority of all metropolitan courses completed by the end of 2010. In the article on the Golf Australia website where the announcement was made, Golf Australia CEO Stephen Pitt said:

“The USGA Course Rating System is considered world’s best practice and is the result of significant financial and scientific investment. It is exciting that all Australian clubs and handicap players will now be exposed to the benefits experienced by most golfers around the world.”

There has been a lot of resentment towards this change from many golfers and I believe it’s due to a couple of reasons. The first is they don’t understand the US slope system. It’s not claiming to be any easier to understand than the current system but once you’ve read the details, it becomes obvious that it is the way to go. The second comes from the fact that it is branded the “US system”. This is indeed correct and is a perfect name for the system but it unfortunately then inherits some anti-American feelings with it.

Chin up Australian golfers! We can now express our handicap with pride! I look forward to a change in the handicapping system itself (such as being allowed to contribute a card for handicapping purposes outside of a competition – provided a member is marking it) in the coming months. Good times.

I will now delete the posts I had ready to publish entitled: “Why Australia should adopt the US golf course rating system?” and perhaps write a few outlining what is in store for us all.

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5 thoughts on “Australia adopts US course rating system

  • Aussie Golfer,

    as a golfer lucky enough to have played in different countries from a young age, I am thrilled about the change.

    watching single figured handicappers struggling to break 100 is not a pretty sight for anyone.

    i strongly support the next step you mentioned about out of competition cards, this is a crucial aspect of genuine handicapping. The marker of any card where a partner has scored well is always eager to make sure it is handed in.


  • As someone who has lived overseas and is a member of a foreign club as well where I have the local handicap, I am always amazed at the difference in skill between a bogey player on my (difficult) Aussie club and a bogey player in Europe. None of my European friends has ever been within 5 strokes of his handicap on my Australian club, despite the fact that we normally play friendlies with them off the forward men’s tees (which differ only one stroke in the current course rating system but are much easier to play). Strangely enough, my scores here are similar to my European scores if adjusted for the slope. My European club (also quite difficult) has a slope rating of 135 off the medal tees.

    There is one other thing that may be quite important in Australia: during the summer, when the greens tend to be kept much slower than during the winter/pennant season, the course plays at least 4 strokes easier (for a hypothetical bogey player again). How is the system going to cope with that?

  • When the new system is introduced, will a person’s handicap be assessed on his/her previous 20 games from date of introduction or will it be based on his/her next 20 games from date of introduction?


  • As I understand it, the previous 20 games will be taken into account on the date the new system is introduced. At this stage, it is still set for February 1, 2010.

  • This is a great system. I am on a single figure handicap but I feel sorry for the long marker on the present system. The C Grader on say 30 handicap who has a blinder and plays 5 shots below his handicap and loses 5 x .4 i.e. 2 shots than has to play over his handicap by a fair margin for 20 games before he agains regains his old handicap. OK for the younger brigade but for the old bloke, totally unsatisfactory.


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