A First rate Job

Math minded? Fascinated by golf course design? Maybe you should join the CGA’s volunteer course rating corps, whose diligence produces the numbers that drive our handicaps

On the last day of May, two volunteer crews in khakis took to the fairways and greens of CommonGround Golf Course armed with lasers, clipboards and spiral-bound handbooks. And, of course, with a 5:45 a.m. start time, big cups of coffee.

They paused at each tee, walking off distances and eyeballing obstacles, engaging in spirited discussions about reductions for “lateral P.A.” and “R and R,” then stopping at each green to debate the level of its undulation. There were jokes about pi and stimping, and a long pause at the grassy mound in No. 8 fairway.

It was the CGA’s first “rate” of the year, a process by which Colorado courses are reevaluated every eight years for difficulty from each set of tees, for male and female scratch golfers (producing the rating number you see on your scorecard) and for male and female bogey golfers (producing the accompanying slope number).

“Rate” does rhyme with “debate.” And with occupations including engineer, police officer, pilot and college professor, the raters clearly relish putting on their analytic hats and hashing out the numbers.

“They’re a bunch of talkers,” says their overseer, CGA Director of Club and Facility Services Aaron Guereca, with fond amusement. “Oh, they love math and they like to talk about it.”

They also love golf and the places that course rating takes them. Follow along for an inside peek at one of the CGA’s most coveted volunteer assignments.

Veteran journalist Susan Fornoff has written about golf for publications including the San Francisco Chronicle, ColoradoBiz magazine and her own She became a CGA member when she moved from Oakland, CA, to Littleton in 2016, and ghost-writes as “Molly McMulligan,” the CGA’s on-course consultant on golf for fun. Email her at