what does sss mean in golf

What Does SSS Mean in Golf? How Can It Help You?

Last Updated on June 5, 2023

Golfers of all calibres are constantly striving to elevate their performance. One way they can do this is by understanding what does SSS mean in golf? Standard Scratch Score (SSS) measures the difficulty level of a course and gives players an idea of how challenging it may be. It takes into account factors such as terrain, length, bunkers and other hazards that affect the score you’ll get on each hole. Grasping SSS can be useful for selecting courses or strategising your next round, so let’s delve into what it really signifies in the game of golf.

Table of Contents:

What Is Standard Scratch Score in Golf?

Standard Scratch Score (SSS) is a system used to measure the difficulty of golf courses. The National Golf Union devised a system to enable golfers to gauge their performance in comparison with other players, no matter the course.

The SSS system works by taking into account the par for each hole, as well as any hazards or bunkers that can affect a player’s score. The average score returned over 18 holes is then calculated and compared with what an average golfer should expect to achieve on a ‘standard’ course – this figure becomes the SSS for that particular course.

A scratch golfer (one who has no handicap) will aim to return scores which match up with the SSS rating at all times, while bogey golfers (those with higher handicaps) will look to improve upon it in order to lower their handicap category. In competition play, it is usually expected that players beat the SSS, otherwise known as ‘competition scratch score.

Using your best 8 out of 20 rounds scored within the past 12 months, you can calculate your Handicap Index according to World Handicap System guidelines. Your scores must be below net double bogey or the maximum score allowed per hole based on your current handicap level in order to bring yourself back down towards single figures. This forms part of a comprehensive strategy that requires intelligence and expertise to make sure you’re achieving peak performance.

It’s important when considering different courses’ SSS ratings before playing them that you take into account not only par but also other factors such as length of fairways and greens, size of bunkers etc., so that you know whether or not it would be easier for you than usual. Some courses may have a high rating yet still be relatively easy due to their layout. For example, if one were playing at a Par 72 course with an overall rating of 73, although technically more difficult than others rated 72, there could still be opportunities here and there throughout the play where one could pick up shots if they knew what they were looking for ahead of time.

Key Takeaway: Standard Scratch Score (SSS) is a system used to measure the difficulty of golf courses. It takes into account par, hazards and bunkers for each hole before calculating an average score which can be compared with what an average golfer should expect on a ‘standard’ course – this figure becoming the SSS rating.

How to Calculate SSS

taking a stance to shot

Determining a golfer’s Standard Scratch Score (SSS) is essential to monitor their playing performance and improvement. It helps golfers understand their playing ability and track their progress over time. The SSS is calculated using scores returned on different courses, taking into account course difficulty and weather conditions.

First, the golfer needs to determine which National Golf Union they are affiliated with. This will determine which handicap system they need to use in order to calculate their SSS score. Different unions have different systems for calculating handicaps, so it’s important that golfers know which one applies to them before beginning the calculation process.

Next, the player must obtain his or her maximum score per hole from at least five rounds played over two different courses of 18 holes, each in a total of 36 holes. This means that if a player has only played four rounds, he or she will need to play another round at a second course before being able to calculate an accurate SSS score. Once these scores have been obtained, the average of all 36 holes should be taken as this will give an indication of how well a golfer can perform when playing under normal conditions such as good weather and fairways in good condition.

The next step is then to take into account any ‘play easier’ strokes that may apply due to difficult terrain or other factors affecting playability on certain holes – these are called ‘competition scratch scores’. These should be added up and subtracted from the original average score obtained earlier in order to get an adjusted net double bogey (NDB) figure – this is what makes up your final SSS score. For example, if you had recorded an average gross score of 81 but had taken 6 ‘play easier’ strokes due to various difficulties encountered during your round, then your NDB would be 75 – this would make up your final Standard Scratch Score (75).

Finally, it is worth noting that some clubs may factor in additional elements such as age and gender when calculating handicaps. Therefore, it pays for players to check with their local club first before attempting any calculations themselves. By following these steps, golfers can easily calculate their own Standard Scratch Score, which will give them greater insight into how well they are performing against other players within their particular handicap category.

Key Takeaway: To calculate a golfer’s Standard Scratch Score (SSS), they must first determine their National Golf Union and then obtain the average of 36 holes played across two courses, taking into account any ‘play easier’ strokes. Finally, some clubs may factor in additional elements such as age and gender when calculating handicaps – so it pays to check with them beforehand.

Comparing Different Courses’ SSS Scores

a golf course with beautiful sunset

It is used to compare different courses and determine how difficult they are for players with varying handicaps. The SSS considers various elements, such as the length of the course, fairways’ size and shape, bunkers, water hazards, roughs and other impediments like trees or out-of-bounds areas – all of which contribute to a hole’s par rating from simple par 3s to demanding par 5s that result in an overall SSS score for a particular golf course. All these elements contribute to making up each hole’s par rating – from easy par 3s to challenging par 5s – which in turn makes up the overall SSS score for a particular course.

The calculation of an individual’s SSS can be quite complex but it essentially involves taking all scores returned by scratch golfers on each hole over a period of time and then averaging them out to get an average score per hole across all 18 holes on that particular course. This figure then gives you your Standard Scratch Score – i.e., what scratch golfers would typically return when playing that specific course under normal conditions.

By taking into account scores returned by scratch golfers on each hole, as well as adjusting them according to weather conditions or competition level during any given round played at that venue, a system known as ‘Competition Scratch Scores’ (CSS) is used for comparison purposes between different courses. This adjusted figure is then tallied up across all 18 holes to give the Course Competition Scratch Score (CCSS), which can be compared against other courses in order to evaluate their difficulty levels – providing useful information with both for experienced players wanting an extra challenge and newbies looking for easier options while honing their skills without getting too discouraged.

Ultimately, it is essential to bear in mind that the amount of handicap allowance may be dissimilar depending on where a game is taking place; thus, if intending to join tournaments, one should ask their local organisation regarding their regulations concerning this matter before enrolling.


In conclusion, Standard Scratch Score (SSS) is a valuable tool for golfers to use when comparing different courses and understanding the difficulty of each. Knowing what SSS means in golf can help you make more informed decisions on which course best suits your skill level and playing style. With this knowledge, you’ll be able to play smarter and have more fun on the links.

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