A Beginner's Guide to PDGA Divisions
PDGA divisions fall into basic classifications of Professional, Amateur, and Junior. Professionals compete for money, while Amateurs and Juniors compete for trophies and prizes. This document explains how these divisions are defined and gives first-time tournament players a loose framework for choosing a skill-based division for their first PDGA-sanctioned event.
Amateur-class members (including Amateur-class Juniors) may compete in Professional divisions without being Professional-class members. If they accept any cash prize while doing so, they will automatically become Professional-class members.
Professional-class members may only play Amateur divisions under certain circumstances (see Competition Manual 2.04.A), and they may not play Junior divisions at all. If they meet the applicable criteria (see Competition Manual 2.03.A.2), a player may request reclassification from Professional to Amateur by petitioning the PDGA Event Support Team.
Professional divisions are based solely on gender and year of birth, while Amateur divisions are based on gender and either year of birth or skill level. Junior divisions are based solely on gender and year of birth.
Divisions are labeled as either “mixed” or “women’s.” Anyone may play in mixed divisions, regardless of gender. In women’s divisions, players must meet the requirements of the PDGA Policy on Eligibility for Gender-Based Divisions to be eligible to compete.
Year of Birth
Professional-class players may compete in nine age-based professional divisions, with their eligibility based on their year of birth: Open (MPO/FPO), Pro Masters 40+ (MP40/FP40), Pro Masters 50+ (MP50/FP50), Pro Masters 55+ (MP55/FP55), Pro Masters 60+ (MP60/FP60), Pro Masters 65+ (MP65/FP65), Pro Masters 70+ (MP70/FP70), Pro Masters 75+ (MP75/FP75), and Pro Masters 80+ (MP80/FP80). Amateurs have analogous age-based divisions (which begin with the MA/FA prefixes). Divisions that require a player to be over 40 to compete are called Masters divisions.
Professional and Amateur players who turn 40 or older in the current calendar year may also compete in younger divisions if they wish, or if their age-based division is not offered. For example, an Amateur-class PDGA member who is eligible for gender-based division, is 780-rated, and who turns 51 during the current calendar year could play FA2 by rating or FA50 by age but would also be eligible for (among other divisions) FA40.
Junior-aged (18 and under) players are divided into six groups based on a player’s year of birth: Junior ≤18 (MJ18/FJ18), Junior ≤15 (MJ15/FJ15), Junior ≤12 (MJ12/FJ12), Junior ≤10 (MJ10/FJ10), Junior ≤08 (MJ08/FJ08), Junior ≤06 (MJ06/FJ06). Players may compete in older divisions (including Professional and Amateur divisions) if they wish, or if their age-based division is not offered. For example, an Amateur-class PDGA member who is only eligible for mixed divisions and who turns 15 during the current calendar year is eligible for MJ15 by age but would also be eligible for (among other divisions) MJ18.
Amateurs may also be grouped based on skill (as measured by PDGA Player Ratings) into Amateur 1 (MA1/FA1), Amateur 2 (MA2/FA2), Amateur 3 (MA3/FA3), and Amateur 4 (MA4/FA4) division levels.
Finally, there are six Ratings-Based Divisions, that are – as the name suggests – solely based on a player’s rating, regardless of age, gender, or Professional/Amateur class. The top division, RPA Gold 970+, is a Professional division. All the others – RAH Blue <970, RAD White <935, RAE Red <900, RAF Green <850, and RAG Purple <800 – are Amateur divisions. Professionals may play in these Amateur divisions at A-Tiers and below so long as their rating falls below the applicable ceiling.
You can see all this information in chart form by referencing the Divisions, Ratings, and Points Factors table.
Depending on whether events are sanctioned as Pro/Am, Pro-only, or Amateur-only, a Tournament Director (TD) may offer all or a subset of the possible divisions. Some specialized events will only offer very specific subsets of divisions such as junior-only events. Competition Manual 2.01.L requires events offering registration for a specific division to hold that division if there are four or more registered competitors. It also grants TDs the discretion to hold smaller fields for underserved divisions (women, juniors, masters) to encourage attendance, as participation may typically be less than four players in those divisions.
Choosing a Skill-Based Division for your First PDGA Event
So, you’re competing at your first-ever PDGA event, and you’re not playing in a Masters or Junior division where you can just play your age. Instead, you have these ratings-bounded divisions – Amateur 1? Amateur 4? - and without a rating, you really don’t know where you fit. Here is a loose set of guidelines to help you decide where to compete at that first event. After that, your PDGA Player Rating will be your guide.
Amateur 4. This is where most first-time tournament players should begin. An Amateur 4 player will usually rely on a single type of throw (forehand, backhand, overhand). Amateur 4 players are learning to create different shot shapes with the disc but lack consistency in how their discs fly for them. They may be inconsistent with putting beyond 4-5 meters (~15 feet). Chasing their best throws may result in compounded errors and high scores on some holes.
Amateur 3. In areas where Amateur 4 is not regularly offered, Amateur 3 is where the bulk of first-time tournament players will play. An Amateur 3 player usually has one dominant type of throw and one or more secondary throw types that are in development. Some of their skills are well-developed and repeatable, but they may still have decision-making and execution errors that lead to a couple “blow-up” holes over the course of the event. They are getting more consistent with putts inside 6-7 meters (~20 feet).
Amateur 2. First-time players should generally not compete in Amateur 2 unless they have playing experience in non-sanctioned events that demonstrates that their skill level is definitely above that of Amateur 3 and 4. Only someone who regularly performs well at club monthlies or weeknight doubles and who has an array of shot shapes and throw types available to them – if still inconsistent with some of them – and who are very confident with putts inside 6-7 meters (~20 feet) should consider starting here.
Amateur 1. First-time players should generally not compete in Amateur 1 unless they have playing experience in non-sanctioned events that demonstrates that their skill level is definitely above that of the other available Amateur divisions. If the player is consistently near the top of the field at club monthlies or weeknight doubles, has an array of shots available to them that are repeatable and dependable, and is confident running putts from outside the 10-meter putting area and making them inside 7-8 meters (~25 feet), then they may consider starting here.
Remember: the above descriptions are intended to serve as a loose guide for first-time tournament players. Established players should generally compete where their rating indicates.
Time to Play!
Armed with this knowledge, you now know what divisions are available in PDGA-sanctioned events, what those divisions mean, and where you might want to play in your first PDGA-sanctioned event. Now it’s time to get out there and have fun.
Good luck at your first event from all of us at the PDGA!
Divisions, Ratings, & Points
- A Beginner's Guide to PDGA Divisions
- Reclassification from Pro to Amateur
- Ratings System
- Points System
- 2022 Divisional Points Winners
- 2021 Divisional Points Winners
- 2020 Divisional Points Winners
- 2019 Divisional Points Winners
- 2018 Divisional Points Winners
- 2017 Divisional Points Winners
- 2016 Divisional Points Winners
- 2015 Divisional Points Winners
- 2014 Divisional Points Winners
- 2013 Divisional Points Winners
- 2012 Divisional Points Winners
- Current Divisions, Ratings, & Points Factors