Frequently Asked Questions - Ratings
Frequently asked questions about the PDGA Player Rating System
Your PDGA Player Rating (PR) is a number that shows how close your average round scores are compared to the course rating, called the Scratch Scoring Averages (SSA), of the courses you’ve played in competition. Players who average the SSA on courses played will have a rating of 1000 and are considered “scratch players”. A player who averages scores lower than SSAs on course they’ve played will have a rating over 1000. Most competition players shoot scores higher than SSA so their ratings range somewhere from 700-999.
Dealing with ‘sandbagging’ – players entering a division below their skill level – used to be a challenge. Since 2002, PDGA Player Ratings have been used to group amateur players in competition divisions that prevent players from entering divisions below their rating. In addition, ratings provide one way to rank the world's top players on the PDGA Tour. Course ratings pave the way for statistical comparisons of courses around the world with the potential to help improve their designs and levels of challenge. Course SSA ratings provide a benchmark for players to compare their scores on different courses. Ratings also allow players to handicap their play against anyone all over the world. And based on member surveys, ratings are very popular and fun to watch, not only yours but everyone else’s, too.
Players who enter a PDGA event in a division tracked by the PDGA will automatically get their results entered into the ratings system. However, only ratings of current PDGA members will be published. Starting in 2009, players can earn a separate Super Class rating if they play in those events. See the Super Class FAQ for more information.
Your first rating can be calculated after just one valid round of tournament play. It will be posted on the PDGA website the next time the ratings are updated.
Your current rating can be found by looking up your name under the Membership menu. In addition, you can see unofficial round ratings in events you’ve entered, that haven’t been rated officially, if your TD has posted results of your event online at the PDGA site. If you don’t regularly have access to the Internet, all Tournament Directors receive the current PDGA member list with individual player ratings included so you could also ask a TD.
If you don’t see any scores during or just after the event, it’s because the TD has not posted the scores. If you see the scores but don’t see any ratings, it means the TD has sent the tournament report to PDGA HQ and the official scores are now posted. Once official scores are posted, any unofficial ratings disappear until the next official ratings are processed.
Ratings are now updated at least 10 times per year. For 2013 events, ratings are scheduled to be updated on March 26th, April 23rd, May 21st, July 2nd, August 13th, September 17th, October 22nd, November 19th and December 17th with the 2013 yearend update on January 28th, 2014 with any corrections in early February as needed.
Your rating only changes when you have new rounds that have been reported and rated since your last ratings update. If you don’t play, your rating continues to stay frozen at the same number.
If you have pre-registered, the TD may allow you to remain in that division as long as the event is within two weeks of the ratings posting date. If you did not pre-register before the new ratings were posted, then you are expected to play in the division where your new rating now resides.
Either an event you played quite a while ago just got reported for this update or it’s possible an event you entered needed to be corrected once an error was found in the previous calculations.
Our website allows TDs to upload results and have unofficial ratings calculated. These unofficial results and ratings are not connected to the official results processed by PDGA HQ. When the PDGA receives the tournament report, the scores and member names are checked then added to the PDGA database for display on the web. Since official ratings have not yet been processed, there are no official or unofficial ratings remaining online. Once the official ratings get calculated and are added to the PDGA database, they automatically get displayed with the official scores which have been there for a while.
The scores thrown by propagators each round are used to calculate the SSA rating for a specific course layout. A propagator is a current member whose rating is over 799 and is based on at least 8 rounds. As long as there are 5 propagators playing a course layout, ratings can be calculated. The average rating of all propagators will equal the average rating they get for the round – always. If the same course layout is used more than one round, the scores from multiple rounds will be used to determine an overall SSA, as long as the individual round SSAs come out close to each other, so everyone gets the same rating for the same score on the same course. If the SSAs are significantly different, likely due to varying wind conditions, the round ratings will be calculated separately. If a propagator shoots more than 60 points below their rating, their score will not be used in the SSA calculations.
All rated rounds you have played and have been reported to the PDGA within 12 months of your most recently rated round will be included in the calculation. However, if any one of those ratings is either more than 100 points below your average rating or more than 2.5 standard deviations below your rating – whichever number is smaller – that round will not be included. That works out to about 1 in 50 rounds getting dropped. Rounds where you DNF (Do Not Finish) are never counted in your rating. The most recent 25% of your rounds get double weighted which slightly boosts your rating if you have been steadily improving. If a player has fewer than 8 rounds in the past 12 months, since their most recent round, then we’ll go back up to another 12 months until we find up to 8 rounds but never go back any farther than a total of 24 months.
Every throw equals about 10 rating points on a typical 18-hole course with an SSA near 50. If your scores average 10 throws over SSA, your rating will be 100 points lower than 1000 which would be 900. So a player with rating of 950, who is about 5 throws better than a player with a 900 rating, should probably spot the 900 rated player about 4 to 5 throws if they are trying to level the playing field for the round.
All amateurs with the exception of aged based divisions, like Juniors or Masters and older, compete in divisions based on rating levels. You may not play in a lower division if your rating is above a certain number. Current Amateur divisional ratings lines are; MA1 if 935+, MA2 <935, MA3 <900, MA4 <850 and Am Women; FA1 if 800+, FA2 <800, FA3 <750 (from the Player Division Table.) In addition, there are ratings events where everyone – Ams and Pros – play in a division based on their rating. Players are always allowed to enter divisions even higher than their current rating, just never below.
Hosting a PDGA event is the official way to get an SSA rating for your course. Your course gets an SSA rating when at least 5 current PDGA members with official ratings over 799 play it in PDGA competition. The rough SSA calculation for an 18-hole course with average foliage density is to take the total course length in feet, divide it by 285, then add 30. This will get within a few shots of the SSA and even closer if you adjust upward or downward for more or less than average foliage on the course.
The SSA is generated from player scores, so it will just end up a little higher in poor weather conditions. Player ratings can still be calculated properly regardless of the weather.
There’s no way to determine what an official SSA value would be for a course simply by taking measurements, looking at foliage, fairway widths and accounting for hazards. Not only that, it’s common for TDs to add temp holes, change tee or pin positions, or use new courses such that no SSA would be on file for that layout anyway. Using the scores of players with established ratings to produce an SSA has proven to be an accurate way to indicate how the course played that round. The only weakness of this system is that we require only 5 propagators to generate an SSA. Statisticians would prefer we use at least 30 propagators minimum for better accuracy. However, the PDGA has chosen 5 so that more players would get ratings. Some smaller divisions who play shorter layouts may not have very many propagators on a layout that round and would not get ratings in several events. The slightly higher inaccuracies produced with this system for individual rounds tend to even out over time. Plus, no round rating remains in an active player’s rating more than 12 months before it disappears.
Tech questions may be directed to Roger Smith or Chuck Kennedy by sending us a message from the Contact area of the PDGA website. Other ratings documents are also posted on the PDGA website: www.pdga.com/ratings