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New Age-Based Competition Divisions Starting in 2018


New Divisions

As the sport of disc golf continues to grow, so must the way in which it is organized. One of the changes we saw in 2017 was the debut of a dedicated World Championships event for professional age-based divisions and, as many of you already know, we'll see our junior divisions getting their own dedicated World Championships event in 2018. So we're excited to announce another change for 2018 that affects players of all age-based divisions and introduces a couple of new divisions as well.

Starting in 2018, the Professional Disc Golf Association will be adding two new age-based competition divisions for both Professional and Amateur class players. These new divisions will split the previous Grandmasters and Senior Grandmasters age-based divisions into a total of four divisions with minimum PDGA competition ages of 50, 55, 60, and 65. These age breaks are being implemented to better align the PDGA with physiological age breaks used in other sports, including the National Senior Games, which uses a system of divisions starting at age 50 in 5-year increments.

New Division Codes/Names

So what do we call these new divisions? Senior Masters? Baby Grandmasters? Super Grandmasters? Junior Legends? We came to realize that our current naming convention simply doesn't work. In fact, after months of consideration, the decision was made to scrap it almost entirely and go with something that can grow with the sport while retaining the word "masters" for historical reasons.

For the division code, the first character denotes whether the division is a female-only division (F) or a mixed division (M) where both males and females may play. The second character denotes whether the division is an Amateur or Professional class division (A or P). The remaining two characters denote the minimum PDGA competition age for the adult divisions and the maximum PDGA competition age for the junior divisions. As for as the division names, all adult age-based divisions will now be referred to as Masters (plus the appropriate minimum competion age) instead of the eclectic patchwork of names we've used in the past. No more confusion over what age qualifies for Senior Legends! 

One last minor change to note is that the Junior Boys divisions are now simply called the Junior divisions. The word "Boys" has been dropped because all of the Junior divisions are considered Mixed divisions; e.g. MJ18 division code stands for Mixed Junior with a maximum PDGA competition age of 18. 

Amateur Adult Age-Based Divisions

Women Only

Div Code Division Name Min Age
FA40 Amateur Masters Women 40+ 40
FA50 Amateur Masters Women 50+ 50
FA55 Amateur Masters Women 55+ 55
FA60 Amateur Masters Women 60+ 60
FA65 Amateur Masters Women 65+ 65
FA70 Amateur Masters Women 70+ 70

Mixed (Men & Women)

Div Code Division Name Min Age
MA40 Amateur Masters 40+ 40
MA50 Amateur Masters 50+ 50
MA55 Amateur Masters 55+ 55
MA60 Amateur Masters 60+ 60
MA65 Amateur Masters 65+ 65
MA70 Amateur Masters 70+ 70

Professional Adult Age-Based Divisions

Women Only

Div Code Division Name Min Age
FP40 Pro Masters Women 40+ 40
FP50 Pro Masters Women 50+ 50
FP55 Pro Masters Women 55+ 55
FP60 Pro Masters Women 60+ 60
FP65 Pro Masters Women 65+ 65
FP70 Pro Masters Women 70+ 70

Mixed (Men & Women)

Div Code Division Name Min Age
MP40 Pro Masters 40+ 40
MP50 Pro Masters 50+ 50
MP55 Pro Masters 55+ 55
MP60 Pro Masters 60+ 60
MP65 Pro Masters 65+ 65
MP70 Pro Masters 70+ 70
MP75 Pro Masters 75+ 75
MP80 Pro Masters 80+ 80

Junior Age-Based Divisions

Girls Only

Div Code Division Name Max Age
FJ18 Junior Girls 18 18
FJ15 Junior Girls 15 15
FJ12 Junior Girls 12 12
FJ10 Junior Girls 10 10
FJ08 Junior Girls 8 8
FJ06 Junior Girls 6 6

Mixed (Boys & Girls)

Div Code Division Name Max Age
MJ18 Junior 18 18
MJ15 Junior 15 15
MJ12 Junior 12 12
MJ10 Junior 10 10
MJ08 Junior 8 8
MJ06 Junior 6 6

Determining your PDGA Competition Age

As always, a player’s PDGA competition age is determined by just their birth year, not their full birthdate. 

Example 1 - Adult Age-Based Divisions

A male amateur player is born in October of 1963. In October of 2018, he will turn 55 years old. This means that for the entire calendar year of 2018 he is eligible to compete in the Masters 55+ division (MA55 = Mixed Amateur, minimum PDGA competition age of 55), despite not actually turning 55 until October.

Example 2 - Junior Age-Based Divisions

A female junior player is born in December of 2002. In December of 2018, she will turn 16 years old. This means that for the entire calendar year of 2018 she can only compete in either the Junior Girls ≤18 (FJ18 = Female Junior, maximum PDGA competition age of 18) or the Junior ≤18 (MJ18 = Mixed Junior, maximum PDGA competition age of 18) divisions, as 2018 means that her PDGA competition age has now surpassed the maximum for the Junior Girls ≤15 (FJ15 = Female Junior, maximum PDGA competition age of 15) or the Junior ≤15 division (MJ15 = Mixed Junior, maximum PDGA competition age of 15).

Q & A

Won't this make it harder to fill up the Masters and Grandmasters divisions?

The answer depends on the event of course. Some events struggle to fill the current Masters and/or Grandmasters divisions, it's true. But not all of them. With the number of events, the number of PDGA members, and the number of players competing in each event all growing at a rapid pace, now is the time to implement the changes needed for a better, more organized future.

Although the PDGA recommends that Tournament Directors (TDs) offer all age-based divisions at their events, we understand that some events are designed for a specific demographic (women, juniors, etc.) and/or that some divisions offered may not reach the minimum of four players needed for TDs to hold that division. 

It's important to note that, if there are less than four players for an offered division, whether or not that division will be eligible for the event comes down to the TDs discretion. If the TD chooses not to allow the division, he/she must follow-up with the players to see which division they would prefer to be moved into, or if they would simply prefer to not compete at all and receive a full refund instead.

Does this change the way "playing up" (or "down") a division has always worked?

No. Players may still choose to compete in any division that they are eligible for. For example, a male amateur with a PDGA competition age of 60 can choose to compete in MA60, MA55, MA50, or MA40, not to mention the equivalent professional adult age-based divisions of MP60, MP55, MP50, and MP40. This same male amateur player could also choose to compete in any of the non-age-based amateur divisions for which he is eligible for based on his PDGA Player Rating (e.g. Novice, Recreational, Intermediate, Advanced). 

How does this affect 2018 Am Worlds and 2018 Pro Masters Worlds Invites?

The 55 and 65 age-based divisions will NOT be offered at 2018 Am Worlds or 2018 Pro Masters Worlds. The divisions offered at 2018 Am Worlds and 2018 Pro Masters Worlds will remain based on the original age-breaks from the 2017 season. Starting in 2018, PDGA members will earn points towards invites in those divisions which will then be offered at the 2019 Am Worlds and 2019 Pro Masters Worlds.

Comments

Submitted by ScottyLove on

Any idea of which of these new divisions will have year end awards for most points (obelisk race)? In the past it's been awarded in "the most popular" divisions, but these are new... so we don't know which are the most popular.

That will depend on how much participation there is throughout the year.  Most divisions have an EOY award except those where there is a very small number of participants worldwide throughout the year. 

Submitted by ScottyLove on

So what your saying is you have no idea... and as such, in 2018 it's just a guess as to whether or not someone should commit to trying to win the points title in any of the new divisions. In past years, it's been clearly stated on the points page which divisions offer an obelisk.

Correct, as we won't know until we see the participation levels of those divisions in 2018. The divisions listed on that page won't change unless we evaluate some further divisions based on 2017 numbers as needing to be added.

The Tour Manager would be the best person for this question, and he will respond on Monday when he returns to the office. However, I will say unofficially that when the Tour Standards are updated for 2018, there will be updated lines in the Pros Playing Am section that corresponds to each of the divisions for 2018.  

For 2018 we will use the same rating breaks as we use now for 50 and 60.  Once we have a year or two of data we will then see about different ratings breaks. 

Submitted by ERicJ on

Good move on the name changes. Next, can we please get rid of the inappropriate (and somewhat insulting) "Novice" and "Recreational" names?

Pretty sure there is nothing insulting about them. 

nov·ice
ˈnävəs/
noun

a person new to or inexperienced in a field or situation

rec·re·a·tion·al
ˌrekrēˈāSH(ə)n(ə)l/
adjective

relating to or denoting activity done for enjoyment

Submitted by ERicJ on

There are a not insignificant number of experienced tournament players that fall in the <850 ratings range. Calling them "novices" isn't appropriate. You also have players that simply won't enter a division called "novice" purely based on the name.

And if tournaments weren't enjoyable players wouldn't play them. Players making the commitment to a tournament are a cut above the "recreational" players carrying three discs and pulling a cooler behind them.

People that are a cut above register for the division that best suits what their goals are for the event, regardless of how the division is labeled. If they are avoiding a particular division and doing so based solely on a personal bias against the name of it, they aren't taking the event very seriously to begin with. I understand where you're coming from though. The term "rec" gets thrown around a lot. I'd be happy to here your suggestions for something better that suits those two ranges of skill. There aren't a lot of other adjectives that make sense really.

Submitted by ERicJ on

"Am1", "Am2", "Am3", and "Am4". Keeping division codes MA1-MA4.

Alternatively, "Am Open", "Am935", "Am900", and "Am850". Potentially new division codes MAO, MA935, MA900, MA850, or just keep MA1-MA4.

Either set of those names focuses more on what the divisions are (ratings based) rather than arbitrary attempts at descriptive verbiage.

Ive been running tournaments for 9 years and playing for over 30. I've never come across someone that wouldn't play in a division based on the name. In fact I have regular players that embrace the recreational division solely because they enjoy the relaxed atmosphere.

Submitted by tmatteoli on

They could rename amateurs so they knew for sure when to move up:

Code Name When to move up
===== ================== ==============
FA725 Female Amateurs <725 Rating below 725
FA725 Female Amateurs <775 Rating below 775
FA725 Female Amateurs <825 Rating below 825
FA725 Female Amateurs <900 Rating below 900
MA850 Mixed Amateurs <850 Rating below 850
MA900 Mixed Amateurs <900 Rating below 900
MA930 Mixed Amateurs <930 Rating below 930
MA970 Mixed Amateurs <970 Rating below 970

I was a racquetballer for many yrs. & they did (do) similar age breaks. With exception of national events there was not enough to fill 5 yr age groups. It seems for example, most PDGA tourneys A, B, C tier do not have enough folks now in Am grandmaster. So I pay $65 to play with 5-10 guys between ages 50-60 and now I would pay $65 to play with 4 guys age 55-60? Sounds OK for Worlds, GBO or Selinski, but not good for smaller events.

Submitted by tmatteoli on

Just because the newer divisions exist, doesn't mean that you have to play in them. Everybody could still sign up for 50+, 60+, etc. They would only really be feasible at very large tournaments, i.e. Ledgestone, Glass Blown Open, etc. I have the same situation in 40+ in that it's hard to get the minimum players.

The new divisions are not required. The TD picks and chooses which divisions to offer when they set up registration. If the TDs event already has trouble filling Adv. Grandmaster, he/she can choose to only offer MA50 during registration. 

Seems like a great Idea I really wish we would look into solving the AM1 and Open Divisions as well. Seems like we should really have a "Semi Pro" Division with rating caps still can cash and script and sponsorship but will help prevent "Bagging" and guys that have been playing a long time in AM1 get bump but not to OPEN. Feeder divisions are huge in many sports across the world.

Wow, another interesting (group?) decision made by the PDGA. the question is...how was this decision made & who made it? I don't recall receiving any survey in the mail or e-mail. So please answer us how this decision was made. Seems like a great opportunity to implement ratings based divisions. The comments above are correct...rarely are there enough numbers in those am divisions to field a division. First i've heard of this idea. The membership base needs to be involved in these decisions. Like pro worlds in Emporia last year-1 individual from the PDGA come to town and mandates short tees for mpg (& above) and the informal survey taken amongst players was...hey, i'm here for the worlds and i want to play the hardest lay-outs(especially with only 1 rd a day). Thank you grand rapids(PDGA?) for not doing this so why is 1 person making such important decisions?

Submitted by ldtrainman on

I like the new changes. But where is MA75, MA80, etc. I never heard of disc golf until I was in (what would be) MA65. Yes, there are never enough people in my division. I compete with people 10 and 20 years junior to me. So what. I have fun. I'm not always last. The new divisions might encourage more people to play and compete. I have never liked the 4 person minimum to have a division. One person is enough. Their prize could be just a certificate. Very little cost but recognition for competing.

Submitted by tmatteoli on

I also hate the 4 person minimum to have a division. Along the lines of your suggestion, maybe reword it to have a 4 person minimum to guarantee a payout. At the TD's discretion to payout with 3 or less.

Submitted by tmatteoli on

You briefly touched on the issue of how these changes affect AM Worlds/Pro Masters Worlds, but didn't explore the real problem, qualifying. I currently play in MM1. At least I play it when there is enough of a turn out. Unless I travel large distances to play in the really big tournaments, fielding more than 10 is extremely rare and almost unheard of. The issue that this causes is that the point requirements for AM Worlds are practically impossible to meet. There are a lot am masters like me that mostly play tournaments within a 1-2 hour radius of where they live and Maybe 1-2 tournaments outside of that.
We could play and cash in Masters in 1-2 tournaments every week and not even come close. This being the case, it seems to have become a common practice for Masters aged players to play(bag) in the generally much larger Rec, Intermediate, and sometimes Advanced divisions just to get the points they need to qualify. Since I only play Ams at the moment, I can't comment on how much of an issue it is with the Pros, but to qualify, an Ams Masters player shouldn't have to play in other divisions or be expected to travel across the country to place high in their respective Masters division at all the big tournaments. Masters aged people tend to have families and lives outside of disc golf. It's one thing to set the bar high, but it does need to be attainable by a non-roadwarrior that plays well in their own division.

Submitted by W.Black on

More age protected divisions may be called for in sports that require more physical strength and stamina. Disc Golf isn't that type of sport. I often see 60+-year olds playing down in Adv. Grand and, if not winning, doing well. Same for some guys in their 50's playing down at Master level. I can think of nobody that I play with that has requested a split like this to the current divisions. What I have heard are some players asking for a Junior Masters (30+) division.

If you do intend on moving ahead, please fix the other amateur divisions as well. ERicJ is right. I'm one of those players that just seem to hang around the 850 mark. I'm not a Rec player. I'm just not all that good. Let's fix the other AM divisions while we're at it. I like ERicJ's divisions as posted based on rating. The only thing I would change there is to move the 935 to 950. 935 always seemed so arbitrary for a cutoff point. The other break points are arbitrary as well but would now be consistently arbitrary. Now you have 800 and below (Novice), 801-850 (Rec), 851-900 (Intermediate), 901-950 (Advanced) and 951+ (Professional Amateurs or Amateur Professionals or whatever you want to call this grey area between Am and Open).

What I find discouraging is that you have announced a change that does not seem to be completely thought out. How does this effect Amateur points? What will this require from the main tournament registration sites like discgolfscene.com or discgolfunited.com? Did you reach out to the TDs who are running events and the players who are playing the events and get their feedback?

I applaud your effort to look at the divisions and make improvements. Let's do it so we aren't back here in a few years revisiting the issue. If you believe, that in the long-term, more age protected divisions will be necessary to the quality and growth of the PDGA then, by all means, get it done.

I don't have a problem with the decision to make this change but, I am very concerned about the ability to get enough points to qualify for AM Worlds. Right now I play 15+ tournaments a year in the NW and there is no way outside of traveling to a major or other large tournaments to even get close to the required 500 points. This limits many of us with families and career's. I fully support the PDGA but please take a look at this.

Submitted by mchesnut on

I agree with W. Black. So much change for Age protected divisions where there is not a problem with people playing where they probably should not. It is age protected. I play mainly Advanced Grandmasters and have for awhile. I think the biggest problem is with the other Am divisions. I try to get locals to play, especially newbies. The problem is that a Rec player with a rating of 899 is legal. Newbies have no chance of doing well. Could we set up something like W. Black mentioned above. Novice <800, Rec. 801-850, Int 851-900, Advanced <900. I could play Rec and do well, I will not because I am not a beginner. This area needs to be addressed also. Thanks

Submitted by ScottyLove on

Keep in mind that you don't necessarily have to have the minimum number of points for the Am Worlds invitation.

Any US State that did not have at least 10% of it's resident amateur 2017 Tour participants qualify via points, will have additional invites provided to the top overall points earners in order to reach 10%.

This helps out those that live in areas where the tournament fields are limited and for those who can't or won't travel to the big tournaments.

Submitted by mchesnut on

I was not worried about points. In Texas there are plenty of opportunities for points. Just concerned with sandbaggers that stay in rec because they still have a rating under 900, and some have been playing for years. Newbies get discouraged because the rec division is filled with players that should atleast be playing in the intermediate division. The PDGA only has suggestions, with the change in age-protected divsions taking place, might as well take care of the non-age protected divisions also.

Thanks for wanting to implement change. The issue that I have is with the Open divisions. It's not fair to the lesser rated Open players to have to put so much time, energy and money in to playing a tournament that won't cover your costs because the same players always win. I wanted to be an Open Player once. But I'm not one of the lucky ones that's financially able to even get to that point.
I would like to see both Open divisions grouped by rating. The rating calculation would be done differently too. Take the last 3 or 5 tournaments only. Not all Open players play the same number of tournaments. This would make it more fair to those who are only able to play a few tournaments a year.
I also think that the payed out number needs to increase. Sometimes less is more.

This decision seems to descend from a National/Worlds/Top Down understanding. The vast majority of tournaments have too few older players to fill the current divisions. Now we are asking overworked TDs to spend even more time during those last working days as an event approachs: mixing, matching, contacting and convincing a few of us to go along with what necessity dictates. Yes, TDs have the authority to offer fewer division, ...but what a burnout.

If you REALLY want more senior players, far better to look at entry fees and tee pads. Why would an older Am. who likely owns well chosen gear, want to pay 50.00 to 90.00 to get a chance to win some random (heavy and over-stable?) discs they won't throw?

Meanwhile, does an older long tee thrower want to be dumped to shorter tees on courses where those tees amount to 'Disc Golf Lite'? Why not offer a Masters Intermediate Division that is designated for shorter tees? This would offer players a choice based on ability rather than age. Playing on the right tees, for the right price will attract more seniors without bogging down our TDs.

Submitted by fitnessdon on

I totally agree with changing the Nov, Rec, Int, and Adv division ratings, as mentioned in several comments above. I am currently Adv Sen Grandmaster and have only been playing a couple of years. I often have to play in other divisions bc I am the only one in mine (or it's not offered). Adjusted ratings in the other Am divisions would give me a fairer chance at successfully competing when having to move to them. Consequently, Nov <800, Rec 800 - 849, Int 850 - 899, Adv 900 - 950 seems like not only a fair adjustment for myself, but also a more realistic adjustment for ALL the Am players based on today's skill levels I have observed in the 22 tournaments I've competed in this year.

Submitted by FredVocino on

The growth of the sport and the aging into historically low population divisions should make these new divisions work out. Practically, it will not change my process for "playing young" when looking for a game. The loss of opportunity for a 60 year old to compete with someone who is 69 is the most obvious result here.

Submitted by Jack23 on

I like names! Letters and numbers are boring. Something to ascend to. Nothing catchy in numbers, nothing distinguished. Disc Golf isn't numbers, it has personal quality.
I am going to ascend to MA70+??? I want to be a Legend !!!
That fits the attitude we have in Disc Golf !!!

Submitted by slkfis on

I read with interest and some frustration the new age Divisions for Pros and Ams with Ams receiving most of my attention.
The age divisions are good except for the MA 70 which continues to 80 without a break.
This is not good for the 75 + players, it is most certainly harder for a 79 year old player to compete against a possible 69 year old player than a 59 vs a possible 54.
I see 70+ breaks at 75 in the pros, but then again we’re just old ams.
I understand there are not many of us 75+ players who enter tournaments and for various reasons. One being, that two rounds a day especially in summer heat puts a larger load on the 79 year old than the 55 year old. Plus very few events even offer a division over 60! How can we ever get in the Senior Games if our own organization does not recognize us?
But we could have split division if for no other reason than to draw attention and possibly more entrants. We may not have enough players and have to move to another division as we do now but at last we let people know there is an option. This division is going to be a growing one in the very near future based on what I see in the 60’s group.
Just my 2 cents worth and I will continue to play as long as my Surgeon continues to replace and repair body parts.
Thank you,
Robert Black
PDGA 53511
PS: I started playing at 72 !

The new divisions for 2018 look interesting. Will the points to qualify for Worlds be adjusted for the new divisions? I used to qualify nicely at 75 points, now I need 500 which is out of reach for the 7-12 tournaments I play in (usually 2 hours driving rad.). We usually have 6-7 GM1s playing. The new divisions will reduce players in the new division, thus reducing the points gained even when placing first. I would rather play in my age group for the experience, instead of going Intermediate MM2.

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