What is the meaning of Slope?
Golf Digest, December, 1999, page 32
Use a course's Slope Rating to determine your Course Handicap--and as a yardstick to measure difficulty.
Dear Golf Digest: Will somebody please explain to me what Slope Rating means? Does the Slope Rating number you see on a scorecard matter to the average player? T.J., Hoboken, N.J.
Not having at least a basic understanding of what Slope Rating means to a golfer is like being a drinker without knowing what "proof" refers to. After that first nasty hangover, you sure wish you'd known better.
Formulated by the U.S. Golf Association, the Slope Rating System adjusts a player's Handicap Index according to the difficulty of the golf course being played. Slope, along with Course Rating, is what makes handicaps "portable."
Under the Slope System, golf courses are rated according to their relative difficulty for both the scratch golfer and the bogey golfer--a male player whose Handicap Index is 17.5 to 22.4.
The number representing the Slope Rating of a course is simply a comparative number based on a calculation. You don't need to know the math involved, because every course has a Slope and Course Rating table that turns your Handicap Index into a Course Handicap for you. Just know this: The average Slope Rating is 118.5, the maximum is 155. If a course (or the tees you intend to play) has a Slope Rating above 140, bring lots of extra balls--you're probably overmatched. The Slope Ratings on Golf Digest's 100 Greatest Courses generally fall in the 120 to 130 range (middle tees)--plenty of course for the average player.