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2023 Divisional Realignment

Tuesday, November 1, 2022 - 10:29

Divisional Revamp, Renaming, and Realignment

Periodically, the PDGA engages in re-examination of member data to ensure that our divisions and ratings breaks are serving our membership and promoting meaningful peer-level competition. The massive surge in interest, events, and membership we’ve seen since 2020 necessitated that we engage in this analysis once again. In 2023, we will make the following changes:

  1. Introduce FP75, FP80, MA75, MA80, FA75, and FA80. The addition of these divisions means there are now four parallel and equal tracks for our age-based divisions. We will also re-align the rating caps for Pros Playing Am in age-based divisions.
  2. Abandon the outdated and inaccurate divisional nicknames for the core Amateur divisions (Advanced, Intermediate, Recreational, and Novice) in favor of names that reflect the divisions’ skill hierarchy and ratings requirements (e.g., Mixed Amateur 1; Women's Amateur 3).

Age-Based Division Changes

Along with adding FP75 and FP80 on the Professional side, the Amateur age-based divisions welcome FA75, FA80, MA75, and MA80. In addition to these new divisions, we are introducing new rating caps for all age-based divisions.

The rating cap for each division serves two purposes beyond being a general guide of when many players choose move to the professional ranks:

  1. Professional-class players are allowed to play in amateur divisions if they fall below the cap for that division. Many players choose to play in professional divisions on a local level, but actually fit better in the amateur divisions on a larger scale. This allows some players to choose their division while also protecting amateur players from having high-rated pros join their division.
  2. Professional-class players are allowed to reclassify back to amateur status if they fall below the cap for their age range, provided they meet the other criteria for reclassification. This allows professional players who have not been performing at a professional level to be able to reclassify their membership status back to amateur-class, while again protecting existing amateur players.

We will first detail the changes in rating caps for Pros Playing Am in age-based divisions, and then explain the statistical analysis that underpins and necessitates the changes we’ve made. 

Div Code Name 2022 Pro Rating Cap 2023 Pro Rating Cap
MA40 Mixed Amateur 40+ <935 <920
MA50 Mixed Amateur 50+ <900 <910
MA55 Mixed Amateur 55+ <900 <905
MA60 Mixed Amateur 60+ <850 <900
MA65 Mixed Amateur 65+ <850 <885
MA70 Mixed Amateur 70+ <800 <860
MA75 Mixed Amateur 75+ N/A <840
MA80 Mixed Amateur 80+ N/A <840
FA40 Women’s Amateur 40+ <825 <820
FA50 Women’s Amateur 50+ <775 <805
FA55 Women’s Amateur 55+ <775 <795
FA60 Women’s Amateur 60+ <725 <790
FA65 Women’s Amateur 65+ <725 <785
FA70 Women’s Amateur 70+ <700 <740
FA75 Women’s Amateur 75+ N/A <720
FA80 Women’s Amateur 80+ N/A <720

This approach is data-driven and designed to balance what percentages of a given field are eligible to play Amateur divisions while maintaining a Professional-class membership. 

The tables below show the number and percentage of members within each division who are below the current rating cap.


Current Divisions Demographics and Rating Caps - Players with Mixed and Women’s Eligibility

Number of players in their primary division who fall below the current rating cap

These tables show significant inconsistencies in the percentage of each division under the rating cap. These inconsistencies were a key motivation for creating new rating caps. 

For 2023, we have adjusted the rating cap for each age-based division to produce a more even distribution across divisions. We targeted a rating cap for each division that would result in 80% of each division being below the cap.


2023 Divisions Demographics and Rating Caps - Players with Mixed and Women’s Eligibility

Number of players in their primary division who fall below the current rating cap. Targeting the top 20% of all players in each division to be pros. 

These adjustments correct the imbalances in the 2022 data, and generally exclude the bulk of Professional-class players from Amateur age-based divisions. The criteria for reclassifying from Professional to Amateur-class status will also be adjusted to reflect and match these new rating caps.

Amateur Division Names

The second change for 2023 is to abandon the divisional “nicknames” for the core Amateur divisions. While “Advanced” and “Intermediate” may be perfectly suitable skill-level descriptions, “Recreational” is not a skill descriptor at all (rather, a description of whether or not a player takes the game seriously) and “Novice” is not an accurate skill descriptor for the applicable ratings band (Dan “Stork” Roddick #003 is rated in that band and is about as far from a novice as can be imagined).

These terms also can do real harm to the growth of disc golf. If a division where players rated 850-899 play is “recreational,” does it mean they shouldn’t take the rules seriously in a tournament? An 840-rated player is still building skills, but to a true disc golf novice, someone who throws 275 feet and makes some long putts looks like a pro. These names affect how players approach competition and whether or not TDs offer the divisions. Changing the descriptors more accurately reflects what the divisions are intended to represent.

Accordingly, we are making the following nomenclature changes for 2023 and beyond:

Div Code 2022 Name 2023 Name
MA1 Advanced Mixed Amateur 1
MA2 Intermediate Mixed Amateur 2
MA3 Recreational Mixed Amateur 3
MA4 Novice Mixed Amateur 4
FA1 Advanced Women Women’s Amateur 1
FA2 Intermediate Women Women’s Amateur 2
FA3 Recreational Women Women’s Amateur 3
FA4 Novice Women Women’s Amateur 4