USGA Course Rating is conducted keeping the Rules of Golf in mind. Every time the team of trained Course Raters steps onto a golf course, we have to think about the Rules, how penalties would be applied, and how the Rules might affect a golfer’s play of a hole.
With the Rules Modernization, as well as well as the World Handicap System updating in 2020, the international panel of experts all agreed that the USGA Course Rating System was just fine the way it was. Once the new Rules information was finalized, however, it was obvious that Course Rating needed to be updated as well.
The change to the process was a fairly easy decision. Currently, Out of Bounds/Extreme Rough (OB/ER) is rated with Carry (hitting the ball over a canyon), as well as distance from center of landing zone Right and/or Left. Water is currently the same: Carry (over a pond or stream) and lateral (think to the side more than red markers). Two separate Obstacles, both with carry and lateral.
Going forward, there will be 2 different Obstacles, one for Crossing Penalty Area, whether water or extreme rough, and one for Lateral Penalty Area, covering OB, water or extreme rough ono either side. There are still several minor tweaks that need to be assessed, but the concept is there.
Currently USGA and their counterparts around the world are analyzing thousands of rounds of golf that were posted at courses that had temporarily adopted the 2019 Rules. These rounds need to be assessed to find out whether USGA needs to further change the formulas that go on in the background to calculate Course Rating and Bogey Rating. As soon as OGA receives the final word, we will begin training our team of volunteers and sharing with our OGA Membership.
The hard answer on the question of whether the Course Rating and Slope Rating of your golf course will change is: Maybe. There are many courses that will have no change whatsoever to their Course Rating if they choose to adopt the Penalty Area as a Local Rule. There are some courses that may change considerably. Courses will need to be assessed on an individual basis. We will go ahead with the schedule of rating all courses due in 2019, taking lots of extra notes, just in case there may be an adjustment at a later date.
The Superintendents, PGA Golf Pros, Handicap Chairs, Greens Committees and other officials at each course need to sit down together and figure out how they are going to go forward with the Rules of Golf. Once that decision has been made, drop Gretchen Yoder, Manager of Handicapping and Course Rating, a call (503-981-4653 ext. 228) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org ).
Here is a great link to a series of videos from USGA explaining the 2019 Rules of Golf: http://www.usga.org/content/usga/home-page/rules-hub/rules-modernization/text/an-overview-of-the-rules-modernization-initiative.html