MAGA’s USGA Course Rating Team


Formed in 1992, the Metropolitan Amateur Golf Association is an Allied Golf Association licensed by the United States Golf Association to provide a variety of amateur golf services to its member clubs. One of the most important services, if not the most important, that MAGA provides is USGA Course Rating.

Ever wonder where those rating and slope numbers come from when you post scores in GHIN? MAGA’s Course Rating committee has the responsibility of implementing the USGA Course Rating System throughout the St. Louis Metropolitan area. The committee traditionally re-rates courses on a ten-year cycle, paying special attention to new clubs, which are rated three times in the club’s first ten years.

This type of schedule allows a course to mature and for the Course Rating Committee to closely review the growth of the course. Many clubs continue to make design changes to their courses, and the committee works closely with the club staff and membership to gather important information that will be needed during the rating procedure. This collaboration with club leaders, including course superintendents and head professionals, helps to ensure accurate and updated measurements are being used in a rating.

Accuracy and consistency are the keys to effective Course Rating. A course must first be accurately measured, and the measured length must be corrected to factors that affect play, which are roll, changes in elevation, forced lay-ups, doglegs, wind, and altitude.

A Course Rating is based on the expected performance of a scratch and bogey golfer. Using the USGA and R&A’s Course Rating System Guide, through the collection of extensive data from players and golf holes, the factors that affect the difficulty of a golf hole have been evaluated and assigned numerical values that get plugged into a table. That said table yields an accurate Course Raring and Slope Rating when done with an entire course.

Ron Rhoades and his team have been rating courses for MAGA for 17 years and counting.

“I was volunteering with MAGA and they needed more course raters, so I thought I would give it a try,” Rhoades said. “Turns out, I liked the idea of visiting local courses and spending time learning how they are laid out and how architects designed courses to challenge both the scratch golfer and the everyday player.”

Being able to play the courses after rating them is not a bad perk either.

The well-known courses in the area are always the most interesting to do a course rating for because you see how the different course designers challenge the golfers.  As for the toughest courses to rate, it is the courses that have the most hazards that require golfers to play around or over that take the most time to evaluate, since the player must lay up to a hazard to avoid a big number on their scorecard.

The toughest course Ron has ever had to rate? Boone Valley Golf Club. Ron and his team were there two weeks ago in what was their last rating of the season. It took them over six hours to rate the course – the longest it has ever taken for an 18-hole layout.

All of MAGA’s raters are avid golfers who share a common interest in seeing the variety of courses available to local golfers, and who understand the importance of generating a course rating which allows golfers of all skill levels to compete against each other based on fair and equitable handicaps.

“We work closely together conducting course ratings and learn from one another about the intricacies of the rating process while challenging each other to improve our knowledge of the USGA rating process,” Rhoades said.

The captain is the person who takes the lead in communicating with the course to be rated to gather all of the necessary background information and set up a date for conducting the on-course evaluation. He/she also organizes the number of volunteers needed to conduct the rating and distributes the work plan for the day.

Once the on-course work begins, the captain will ask detailed questions about certain aspects of a given hole to assure that the volunteers have included them in their detailed analysis and will review the final rating values to make certain that the ratings are accurate and based on the measurements and observations of the team.  The captain also must enter the final rating values into the USGA computer system to generate the final rating results.

When the on-course work is finished, the volunteers will gather for a meal at the clubhouse before grabbing their clubs to play.

If you or anyone you know is interested in volunteering with MAGA’s Course Rating Team, contact Ron Rhoades (/Blog/387184/MAGA-s-USGA-Course-Rating-Team) or Curt Rohe (/Blog/387184/MAGA-s-USGA-Course-Rating-Team).

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