Local Knowledge

July 2020


A lot of players and club operators believe once their course has been rated then that’s it, the numbers are good in perpetuity. Well, that’s a myth and not true.

Because golf courses are such an integral – and seemingly unchanging – part of any club, it’s easy to overlook they are constantly evolving over time. A big course renovation project is an obvious transformation, but even without major modifications, nature and everyday maintenance add their own subtle changes. Green sizes increase/decrease and fairways narrow/widen from changes in mowing patterns. Trees grow or succumb to disease and severe weather. Bunkers get washed out and filled in.

These are just a few of the factors that can affect course ratings and why, under the Rules of Handicapping, the USGA requires all authorized golf associations to periodically review the ratings of their courses and to revise them, if necessary.

The USGA has licensed the TGA to rate courses according to their guidelines, which states that an established course must be re-rated at least every 10 years. That holds true even if it has not been changed in any way. Newly constructed courses must be re-rated within five years, because they change frequently during maturation.

Let’s clear up a few other persistent myths about the TGA course rating process:

MYTH: It costs $2,000 to have your course rated.
FACT: The cost for a TGA Member Club is $475 per 18 holes. This gets all the course’s tee sets rated for men and women, while also covering any tees a club adds for the next 10 years.

MYTH: A club has to close down to be rated.
FACT: A course does not need to shut down to be rated. A rating team normally will need some tee times blocked off to take measurements and gather data for the rating.

MYTH: Course rating is based on subjectivity.
FACT: The Course Rating System is based on data and measurements that are gathered by rating teams that are used to calculate a rating. Although some subjectivity comes into play when rating a course, TGA rating teams are trained to evaluate courses in an accurate and consistent manner to ensure that courses are rated in accordance with the Course Rating System. The Course Rating System has evolved to eliminate as much subjectivity as possible during the rating process and is more focused on the data that is gathered, and advances in technology used on ratings have helped eliminate previously subjective rating factors.

MYTH: A course rating doesn’t cover all tee sets for men and women.
FACT: All tee sets for men and women are included in a course rating. The club has the choice on what ratings are published into GHIN for score posting. As long as their course ratings are up to date, clubs can add more tee sets for score posting without a complete rerating.

If you have any questions about the Course Rating System or if your course is due to be re-rated and would like to get the process started, please contact the TGA’s Course Rating Manager, Zach Madison, by email or call (214) 468-8942.


When golfers are asked about why they love the game, some common themes always rise to the top. Golf is a game of honor and integrity. Golf is a healthy outdoor activity that can be enjoyed for a lifetime. Golf brings people together around a common passion. Golf reveals character. Golfers are required to take responsibility and be accountable, much like we are being asked to do today.

As we have heard the phrase “unprecedented times” so frequently over the last several months, the game we love has provided us with reminders about fundamental principles we can all embrace. As we wrestle with how we can deliver true equality in our society and provide safety in the face of a pandemic, I am inspired by the values of our game. The Core Values of The First Tee set a high standard for the way we behave and interact with each other. These are not just lessons for junior golfers, but standards for us all to live up to.

Honesty. Integrity. Sportsmanship. Respect. Confidence. Responsibility. Perseverance. Courtesy. Judgment. As the worldwide community of golfers works to fully embody these values, our game and our culture will be better for it. Respect does not allow for prejudice and discrimination. Courtesy requires valuing the safety of others at least as much as we value our personal routines.

The TGA staff and leadership will be working diligently to ensure that our policies and programs meet these standards and make a difference. – Stacy Dennis, TGA Executive Director


The COVID-19 pandemic has touched all aspects of life, and the game of golf and the Rules that govern it are no exception. The necessity to keep social distance, eliminate common touch points and follow government health guidelines brought about some significant shifts in golf course operations as well as golfer behavior.

Initial rules-related guidance was originally released on March 20, 2020 (click here to view) by the USGA in response to questions received from golf course owners, administrators, tournament organizers and golfers as to how the Rules of Golf and Rules of Handicapping apply.

The initial document has been recently updated to help golf course operators and administrators, as well as golfers, better understand how the Rules of Golf and Rules of Handicapping apply to the various questions the USGA has received.

Click on the following link to learn more: Playing By The Rules During COVID-19


Before COVID-19 deflated economies around the world, 2020 was shaping up to be a thumbs-up year for America’s private clubs. After more than a decade of robust corporate growth, stock markets were sizzling, consumer confidence soared and clubs were looking to capitalize on the multi-million-dollar investments they’d been making in their facilities.

Then, in mid-March, as the coronavirus began to spread, the vitality vanished. Social distancing, a concept fundamentally at odds with club lifestyles, ground clubhouse functions to a halt. Food & beverage income plummeted, and income from ancillary services — tennis and golf lessons, weddings, birthday parties, spa sessions — disappeared.

Forced to contend with issues they’ve never before encountered, club managers had to think outside the proverbial box to meet the needs and expectations of members in reluctant quarantine.

Their strategy: When you can’t bring the members to the club, bring the club to the members. In the process, managers did more than simply adapt to unfamiliar conditions. They laid a foundation for the post-pandemic future. In his article for CMAA Magazine, author Robert J. Vasilak looks at how club managers have received support and creative ideas from fellow CMAA Members.

Click on the following link to learn more: COVID-19 Pandemic: How Clubs Adapted