What Are the Course Rating and Slope Rating of Augusta National?

Augusta National 10th hole
How difficult a golf course is Augusta National? Its USGA Course Rating and Slope Rating have never been officially calculated. Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Nobody knows exactly what the USGA Slope Rating and Course Rating numbers are for Augusta National Golf Club, including the staff and members there, because the club has never requested a USGA rating team visit the course to produce the ratings.

There have been two undercover operations over the years to deduce Augusta National's course and slope ratings, however, and we'll tell you below what those numbers were. (Hint: They are high.)

But first, a refresher on the terms we're discussing. Course Rating and Slope Rating are staples of the USGA Handicap System, and they also serve as a guide to how challenging a golf course plays. Course Rating produces a stroke total that rates how difficult a golf course plays for scratch golfers. Slope Rating produces a number (unrelated to stroke totals) that rates how difficult the course plays for bogey golfers.

A golf course must request a visit from a USGA rating team in order to acquire the official ratings. The team visits the golf course and assesses and rates its degree of difficulty in a number of areas. The numbers are then calculated.

First Unofficial Augusta Ratings Effort Was In 1990

Augusta National is one of the most private clubs in the world and has chosen to forego the USGA rating system.​​​ In 1990, however, Golf Digest organized a secretive effort.

The magazine found a handful of USGA raters who were planning to attend The Masters and set up the plan in motion: The covert ops rating team prowled the grounds at Augusta during tournament week, secretly going through the rating process.

The result? The unofficial findings of Golf Digest's 1990 covert rating team were that Augusta National, at that time, had a Course Rating of 76.2 and a Slope Rating of 148.

According to the magazine, that Course Rating, in 1991 (at the time of publication), was among the 10 highest in the United States. And no course, to that point in time, had a slope rating higher than 148 (other courses have since rated as high as the maximum slope of 155).

Second Secret Ratings Visit in 2009

In 2009, Dean Knuth — the inventor of the Slope System — paid a return visit to Augusta National, following 20 years of course tweakings.

In his 2009 findings, Knuth calculated that Augusta's Course Rating was 78.1 and its Slope Rating was 137. In 2009, that Course Rating was still among the 10 highest in the U.S., according to Golf Digest.

The 1990 article is reprinted on Knuth's Web site and can be read here. The article on the 2009 rating appeared in the April 2010 issue of Golf Digest and can be read here.