The Hacker’s Guide Rating System evaluates 60 on- and off-course elements of a golf course from six categories and scores those elements on a scale of one to 10. Those 60 elements are then weighted in accordance with their significance. (i.e. - playing conditions outweigh variety of items in the pro shop.) Although ratings and reviews are done with an emphasis on the perspective of the modestly skilled player, considerable emphasis is placed on the beauty, design, uniqueness and the fun factors of a course.

The reviews and ratings of each course were completed by a team of nearly 100 volunteers screened and selected from almost 3,000 applicants.

Here are the 5 categories and a brief description of the elements considered in each category:

Hospitality (15%) = 150 points What is the quality of social interaction and guest services? Does the course host leagues, accommodate junior golfers, provide instruction and/or have all the basic (or perhaps even additional) amenities? Also evaluates the quality of a course website, the tee time reservation process, and the accommodations made for female golfers.

Playability (19%) = 190 points Primarily from the perspective of an 18+ handicapper (a bogey golfer). Evaluates the degree of difficulty of the course design and how it impacts genders, age groups and/or skill levels of golfers. Also considers the condition and number of hazards, care of rough, walking vs. riding options as well as a strong emphasis on tee box and hole-to-hole signage, scorecard details and distance measurement systems (GPS or otherwise.)

Conditions (19%) = 190 points What is the overall condition of the golf course? What about the tee boxes, greens, fairways, cart paths and hazards individually? How nature-friendly is the course? Strong emphasis on pace of play, speed and design of the greens.

Facilities (15%) = 150 points What do you get off the course? Examines the clubhouse, the property layout and cleanliness. Food service options, practice areas, quantity and quality of restrooms and locker rooms, pro shop merchandise and general off-course experience and atmosphere are all contributing factors in this category.

Value (15%) = 150 points Six of the 12 elements have to do with cost: fees, cart, practice, food and beverage, etc. Who gives the most for the least? A course relying on its reputation (to charge $200 a round) can be knocked to its knees by the municipal beauty next door at a fraction of the cost to play. Balanced with all the cost considerations are the factors that make a round valuable for most of us: Signature holes, great atmosphere, beauty, fun and the lack of buyer’s remorse.

Total Possible Score = 1000 points