While many professional golfers can expect to regularly shoot rounds in the 60s, or on a bad day in the mid-70s, the average amateur usually is in for a much longer day. While it can be frustrating to watch your strokes add up, it does stand to reason that a golfer who takes more strokes per round pays less per stroke for his round.
As the game has grown, golf technology has also grown by leaps and bounds. Improved club designs, larger and more accurate drivers and even the invention of new clubs, especially hybrids, seemingly have made the game easier to play. And yet, the average score for an amateur golfer still hovers around the 100-stroke mark from year to year.
While the average score for amateurs may be 100, the average score for the average amateur on a specific course is not always 100. Some courses play much more difficult than others. To determine the expected average score on a particular course, it helps to understand how course ratings and slope ratings work.
A course rating is equal to the expected score of a scratch golfer playing a round of golf on a course from a given set of tees--meaning different sets of tees have different course ratings. A course rating above the course's par is a sign that a scratch golfer would be expected to play over par, while a lower rating means a scratch golfer should break par.
The slope rating is a rating that shows the relative difficulty for a bogey golfer on a particular course, compared to the average scratch golfer's score. The rating is so named because it represents the slope of a line passing through the expected scores of golfers, with expected scores on the Y-axis and handicaps on the X-axis. If the average slope is 113, it means an additional 1.13 strokes is expected for every 1 point of handicap difference. For this reason, on an average 113 slope course, a bogey golfer would be expected to lose to a scratch golfer by 20 or 21 strokes.
Finding an Expected Average
To find the expected average score on a course, the rating and slope from the tees played are used. The difference between the expected score of an average golfer and the expected score of a scratch golfer on an average course, meaning a course with a par and rating of 72 and a slope of 113, is 28 strokes--or equal to the average player's 100 minus the scratch's 72. This shows that an average player scores a number of strokes equal to the slope multiplied by .2477, and added to the course rating. For example, on a course with a rating of 70.8 and a slope of 130, an average golfer is expected to lose by 32.20 strokes (130 multiplied by .2477), and the average scratch golfer is expected to shoot 70.8, making an average amateur score for the course 103 strokes.