The Rules of Golf definition:
A referee is one who is appointed by the Committee to accompany players to decide questions of fact and apply the Rules. He must act on any breach of a Rule that he observes or is reported to him.
Being a course rater involves much more than one would normally think. Volunteer course raters regularly drive significant distances to show up at the course very early in the morning. They work as a team to solidify the backbone of the USGA Handicap System that allows golfers from all over the world to compete on an equitable basis. Without an accurate USGA Course Rating, this would not be possible.
A course rater is responsible for implementing the many steps that make up a USGA Course Rating. First, proper measuring of the golf course is vitally important to an accurate rating. Scorecard yardage is not acceptable as a sole source of yardage and must be verified. Measurements are taken from the center of the teeing ground of each tee rated, to the center of the green. Accurate measurements are just the beginning.Raters apply adjustments to the yardage based on Roll, Elevation and Dogleg/Forced Lay-up to come up with the Effective Playing Length.
Raters evaluate each hole for both the scratch and bogey golfers. The scratch rating is better known as the Course Rating, and the bogey rating is used to determine the Slope Rating. Each obstacle is assigned a value from zero to ten. Zero meaning the obstacle does not exist, and ten meaning the obstacle is of the most extreme significance. Raters evaluate obstacles including: topography, green target, bunkers, penalty areas, trees, green surface and psychological factors.
Playing the golf course is another important part of the rating process. Sure, it’s fun, but it gives raters greater insight as to how the course plays based on the ratings they have assigned. After playing, the rating team will have a discussion and may adjust its ratings. It is a full day of work, but most find it to be very rewarding.