June 4, 1999
Charles F. Linberg is the Course Rating Director of the Delaware State Golf Association, and a member of Rehoboth Beach Country Club. Linberg’s work makes it possible for golfers to compete fairly at every course in the State. “It’s a lot of fun,” he says.
Course Ratings are used to determine the relative difficulty of golf courses. Another statistical measure, called Slope Rating, uses the course ratings to adjust players’ handicaps for the course they are playing.
Both ratings appear on scorecards. Charts in the pro shop or near the first tee show golfers how to use these ratings to adjust their own handicap to the course.
The USGA developed the rating methodology over 10 years ago. With some statistical tweaking over the years, the rating system is now well accepted and appreciated.
Linberg started working with course/slope ratings about the same time that the new system was adopted for Delaware courses. He attended a USGA seminar on the subject in the late 80’s and has been rating DSGA member courses ever since.
Course/slope ratings are usually updated on a five-year schedule. In special cases, like Rehoboth Country Club’s ongoing renovation project, the ratings are updated as one hole is dropped for renovation and a reconstructed hole is added.
Linberg puts together a team of raters to join him for each evaluation. This helps make sure the ratings are not affected by a single rater’s impressions. It takes the crew over four hours to perform their tasks at the course. Then the number crunching is performed, and the recommendations are subject to review by a DSGA committee prior to publication.
The rating process is complex, but it’s dominated statistically by fairly exact measurements of the total course yardage. Laser devices are used to measure the course, and Linberg’s crew confirms the numbers. Golfers can see the DSGA medallions on the tee boxes that are used in the measuring process.
The details of the statistical analysis could make your hair hurt, if math is not your strong suit. Here’s how it works, without all the numbers:
The course rating first assesses the yardage of the course and the obstacles presented to scratch golfers off the tee under normal conditions. After this yardage rating is determined, the raters develop an additional obstacle stroke value rating, using factors such as green size and shape, rough, bunkers, trees, and water hazards. The combined number is taken out to the first decimal point place, and is the course rating seen on the scorecards.
The slope ratings compare a scratch golfer’s course rating and a bogey golfer’s course rating. The two ratings use different statistical assumptions based on relative skill. The variance between the two numbers is then multiplied to reach a whole number between 55 and 155. For courses of average difficulty, the slope rating is 113; below that number the course is easier than average, and above that it’s harder.
Here are the 1999 course/slope ratings for Cape Region courses (from the middle tees, unless otherwise noted):
Baywood Greens 70.5/127
Cripple Creek 70.1/124
Golf Park at Rehoboth (back tees) 57.0/85
Kings Creek 70.9/123
Old Landing 66.9/105
Rehoboth Beach 68.9/126
Salt Pond (back tees) 58.0/97
Sussex Pines 71.6/122
Linberg and the DSGA provide a valuable service. The USGA handicap system isn’t perfect, but it still provides the best way for people with different skill levels to have a good game together. The course/slope rating systems are an integral part of the process of making the game fair for all.
Cape golfers place seventh in state tourney
After a promising start in the two-day state high school golf tournament, the Vikings slipped from being tied for second after the first day to an seventh place finish in the 31-team field on June 2.
Playing at Maple Dale Country Club in Dover, the team started out well on June 1, only 16 shots behind eventual winner and host Dover High School. Josh Marr led the Vikings and the tournament with a 76, joined by 5 others. Mark Johnson shot an 81 and Beau Marr put an 82 on the board for his first day.
Henlopen Conference medallist Dan Prettyman did not have a good first day for Cape, shooting an 84. His first drive found the water, and it was a sign of more frustration to follow.
Bob Croce’s 88 and Adam Talley’s 92 kept them from qualifying for the second day, for which only the top 4 players from each team could advance.
On Wednesday the Cape team’s play suffered along with nearly all other tournament players. According to John Bayalis, Milford High’s coach, the course was set up much longer than the first day, and the holes were frequently tucked into tight locations on the slick greens. The heat and wind certainly took their toll on most of the players, and many of the kids looked exhausted as they left the 18th hole.
Dan Prettyman played first for Cape and shot an 85. Beau Marr was next with a 98. Beau said he three-putted 8 greens. Mark Johnson’s 86 was remarkable for how close he matched his first day round, compared to most other tournament players. That didn’t make him feel any happier, however, as his disappointment was obvious. Josh Marr slipped badly to a 99, and looked a bit stunned at the finish. The team’s total score was 691, 42 shots behind Dover.
Viking co-head coach Jerry Dorneman initially had a one-word reaction to the team’s tournament play: “Whew!”
After some reflection, Dorneman then said, “They were tight. Nerves are probably the biggest reason” their scores shot up from their opening round scores.
Course management also played a role. A few coaches said that players frequently drove through fairways and into trees or other trouble. Adrenaline can add unexpected distance, and an iron would have been a better choice than the driver on some holes.
“The kids tend to put themselves into trouble with their length, ” Dorneman said.
His fellow coach, Steve Wolak, also noted that only a few golfers in the entire tournament field hit the green in regulation on the 190-yard par 3, far fewer than would be expected.
Jay Powell of Smyrna won medallist honors with a 156 total for the tournament. His team finished 5th overall.
Milford finished with a surprising 4th overall, Sussex Central finished 19th, and Indian River tied for 11th.