My Course Rating System

T‘ve been thinking of reworking the way I rate courses for quite a long time. However, I haven’t been able to really come up with something better than the Golf Digest system I’ve been using since I started this blog, even though a lot of it is maddening and utter hogwash. I even thought of scrapping my ratings altogether and I still may do that down the road but instead, I’ve been trying to simplify things just a bit.

Some of the GD terminology is off-putting and pretentious, to say the least. What does the average golfer know about ‘shot values’ and what they are? Do they even care? I’d guess no.

In my new ratings system, I’ll be combining all of the criteria that are “Design-related” into one category called Architecture and Design, including shot values, playability, resistance to scoring, design variety and memorability.

I will also have separate categories, as I have in the past, for Aesthetics, Conditioning and Ambience and I will also have a bonus category for Walkability.

Here is a breakdown of all the criteria and what I’m looking for:

Architecture and Design: 62.5% of Overall Rating

– Shot Values: How well does the course pose risks and rewards and equally test length, accuracy and finesse in a variety of ways throughout the round.
– Playability: How well does the course challenge low-handicappers while still providing enjoyable options for high handicappers.
– Resistance to Scoring: How difficult, while still being fair, is the course for a scratch player from the back tees.
– Design Variety: How varied are the holes in differing lengths, configurations, hazard placements, green shapes and green contours.
– Memorability: How well do the design features (tees, fairways, hazards, vegetation and terrain) provide individuality to each hole yet a collective continuity to the 18.

Aesthetics: 12.5% of Overall Rating

– How well do the scenic values of the course, including landscaping, vegetation, water features and backdrops, add to the pleasure of a round.

Conditioning: 12.5% of Overall Rating

– How firm, fast and rolling were the fairways and how firm yet receptive were the greens on the day you played the course.

Ambiance: 12.5% of Overall Rating

– What is the overall feel of playing the course and the quality of the atmosphere and setting.

Each of the criteria, including those within the Architecture and Design category, will be rated on a four point scale:

0.5 – Deplorable – Even the most optimistic player would be hard pressed to find a single positive
1.0 – Poor – Very few positives
1.5 – Below Average – More negatives than positives but nothing really deplorable
2.0 – Average – Nothing remarkable and nothing truly offensive, with just as much bad as good
2.5 – Above Average – More positives than negatives but nothing really inspired
3.0 – Very Good – Only a few notable flaws and a few inspired moments but nothing exceptional
3.5 – Exceptional – Just one or two very small issues but generally exquisite
4.0 – World Class – Even the harshest critic would be hard pressed to find a single flaw

There will also be a one point Walking Bonus available to courses that should be pretty self-explanatory.

Again, I won’t be breaking down the rating of each individual criteria within the Architecture and Design category in my reviews for simplicity sake but all of them will be of equal importance in my overall course rating, which will be out of ten.

This system may be flawed according to some who think architecture is the only thing that is important when rating a course. I certainly can accept that but in my world, there are a few more things, namely walkability, conditioning, aesthetics and ambiance, that are of utmost importance when I’m judging whether I want to go back to a particular place and tee it up again.

All the courses I’ve rated in the past will be re-evaluated according to this new system and eventually I’ll have all the courses I’ve played rated and ranked.

If anyone has any ideas to make this better, I’m all ears! Either way, ratings and rankings always bring much debate and I’m looking forward to any feedback, both positive and negative.

EDIT: March 13, 2011
So yeah, I’m not using this stupid system anymore. Nothing to see here! 😉

Matt Bosela

Proud Canadian | Golf Architecture and Travel Aficionado


  • Haha – if I didn't know any better, I'd ask if you've ever read my blog before! ;)What did you think this blog was about??Regardless, you have to admit it's better than that poker stuff Cal writes about 😉


  • Well, kind of hard to write about my crappy golf game in the winter when I haven't played in over four months.We'll see how crappy my game is in June when I'm eating dinner on your tab every night at BN, just like I did in Florida two years ago. I can't wait!I suppose I could go into hibernation in the winter like you but then again, what would you bitch about if I did that?I think you need a hug or something…Sarah? Anyone?


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