How are golf courses rated?

All courses are rated under the USGA Course Rating System. There are five factors that are considered for each hole. These are:

Roll: Assessment of how far a ball will roll on fairways with various surface conditions/contouring.
Elevation: Difference in elevation between the tee and green and for a player’s approach shot to the green.
Wind: Average wind strength and direction.
Forced lay-up: Where a player is forced to play short of obstacles that cross the fairway.
Dog-leg: Where the dog-leg design of a hole does not allow a full tee shot to be played. 

 

There are also 10 other obstacles that are evaluated on each golf hole:

Topography: Nature of the stance and lie within each landing zone and approach shot elevation to the green.
Fairway: The width of fairway landing zones, hole length and nearby obstacles, including trees, hazards and rough.
Green target: Evaluation of hitting the green with the approach shot and the visibility and nature of the green surface.
Recoverability and rough: Difficulty of recovery if the tee shot landing zone and/or the green is missed.
Bunkers: The size, depth and proximity to the landing zone and green.
Crossing obstacle: Shot length to safely carry water, penalty areas, out of bounds or extreme rough.
Lateral obstacle: The distance of obstacles from the centre of the fairway and green.
Trees: The size, density and proximity of trees to the centre of the landing zone/green, shot length to target areas, and recovery difficulty.
Green surface: Putting difficulty on a green. This takes into account green speed, surface contours and tiers.
Psychological: Evaluation of the cumulative effect of the other nine obstacle factors.

Each obstacle is given a numerical value, from 0 to 10 (0 being non-existent, 10 being extreme). The process is repeated on every hole and for every tee. Through this data, a scratch and bogey rating is achieved