Make any golf course length fit your game

Image of woman adjusting golf course lengthHitting the road this summer? Follow along with Guidance Editor Gail Rogers on how to make any golf course length fit your game.

When playing our familiar home course we rarely think about which tees we might play, or the rating and slope for the round we post. It is all just automatic.

Traveling and playing a new course gives us an opportunity to think of all these elements. Planning ahead can give us the most excitement and enjoyment for our round. Frequently we will notice that the standard scorecard provides one golf course length rated for women that seems too long to be fun, but the next yardage seems to take all of the challenge out of the game for our skill set.

The question is, can we create a middle ground? Using both course sets of tees, we can design our own combination (combo) course.


If you arrive at the course and realize there is not a good yardage for your game, speak with the pro shop staff and ask if they have a combo course. Or if you can, go online before arriving at the course and look at the hole-by-hole yardage book. Consider starting with the par-3 holes, which on paper might seem to be the same yardage requiring the same club. A quick look might show one is uphill and another requires a significant carry over water or native grasses. If other holes seem to require the same shot, consider using another teeing ground for at least one of these holes so that you have the opportunity to use all the clubs in your bag before the round is completed.

On par-4 and par-5 holes, consider how you would play the hole looking from the green back to the tee. Where is the trouble? Where do you have a long carry? Is it from the tee or the second or third shot? What yardage plays best to your skill? Mix and match the two front set of tees to get the proper mix for an interesting, challenging round.

When you create your combo course, there is a procedure in the USGA Handicap Manual for determining your rating and slope for posting. The USGA Handicap Manual Section 5-2g, Posting a Score from an Unrated Set of Tees on a Rated Course shows us how to do this.

The first step is to determine the total yardage you played. Then look at the yardages on the scorecard and select the course with the yardage closest in yardage you played that is rated for women. Determine the yardage difference between these two courses. Using the table from the USGA that we have included here, find the yardage range that includes the yardage difference for the course you created. The first column to the right is the rating difference and the second is the slope difference. If your perfect course is shorter than that for the rated tees you subtract those numbers from the rating and slope. If you played a longer course you add those numbers.


Looking at the scorecard for the course I am visiting, one golf course yardage for women is 4,476 and the next one is 5,656. After looking at all 18 holes I played seven holes from the shorter tees. This will make my combination course play 5,216 yards, which is closer in yardage (440) to the longer course. When looking at the chart, my adjustment for 440 yards is 2.4 to the rating and 5 to the slope. Because I am using the rating and slope from the longer course I subtract the adjustment numbers. 74.0-2.4 and 135-5 gives me a rating and slope of 71.6/130 for my perfect course. It is still a challenging course but one I can handle.

Now when I go to the course computer or bring the course to post online, I adjust the rating and slope to the combo course I have created and I have an accurate posting for my round.

It is easy and fun to be the architect of your round. Print out the chart, pack it in your suitcase and enjoy!

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  1. Susan Fornoff July 18, 2016
  2. Margaret Smith July 18, 2016