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Lefson to take charge of SA course rating

28 Jul 2016

Eric Lefson

Golf RSA has recently contracted former Western Province Director of Golf Eric Lefson to coordinate a course rating programme that will bring the rating of South African golf courses in line with the USGA’s course rating system.
Course rating is, the key component of any handicap system because it is the mechanism that allows golfers playing at different difficulty courses and off different difficulty tees to have equivalent handicaps, since all scores entered on the handicap system are calculated from the tee rating and not the par of the course. 
The better or more accurate the rating system, the less variance there will be of the handicaps of golfers with the same ability.
The USGA’s course rating system has been adopted by the whole world as the standard rating system. 
Unlike our current rating system, which is based primarily on the distance of each hole, it also takes into account numerous factors such as the expected landing area for a tee shot for both a scratch golfer as well as an 18 handicapper.
It also analyses obstacles to get to the landing area, how wide the fairways are, how close the hazards are, how high the normal rough is, the slope of the fairways, out of bounds, and other factors.
The second shots are then also rated, along with hazards around the green, the size of the green, the slopes on the green, and the speed of the green, to name some of the factors that have to be evaluated.
The system then gives the hole, and the course, a rating for a scratch golfer as well as the higher handicap golfer, and the difference is effectively the slope of the course. 
So a course with a high slope rating means that it is much harder for a higher handicapped golfer than the scratch golfer, while a course with a low slope rating means that the rating is not that different for a scratch golfer relative to a higher handicapped golfer.
Once the slope rating system is adopted by a country, handicaps are adjusted for a tee according to its slope rating.
Rating each tee and each hole at a course takes a three-man experienced volunteer team at least half a day and they are usually expected to play the course as well – so the whole process usually takes a full day. 
It is therefore likely to take a few years before all the courses are rated.
Lefson will assist the Provincial Unions by training and assisting the Union rating teams, and will also look to train rating teams that can assist some of the smaller unions.
Course rating teams are made up of volunteers who have the time to be trained in how to rate courses and are able to devote a few days a month to rating courses. The Unions refund the volunteers for their traveling and other expenses and the courses usually provide a complimentary round of golf. 
The SAGA and the Provincial Unions would welcome volunteers, especially from some of the smaller towns and unions, who would be interested in getting involved in course rating in their areas.

If you are interested in assisting, please send us your details by emailing Eric at ericlefson@golfrsa.co.za

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