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PDGA Senior Committee Looks to Expand Competition Opportunities

The PDGA Senior Committee is looking to expand compeition opportunities. Photo: PDGA

The PDGA Senior Committee was created to promote disc golf among Masters (40-plus) and older players, a demographic that has reached the golden moment where we can shoot our own age.

Through surveys, the Senior Committee has found that the top issue among most members is finding opportunities to compete within their own peer group.

As a result, the PDGA Senior Committee is promoting the development of more age-restricted, Masters-plus events. This will create more opportunities for older players to be able to compete within their own divisions and not get closed out of tournaments that limit division registration.

The demand in most areas already exists. Last year, there were about two dozen Masters and older events, and our goal is to double that every year. These events could grow into regional qualifiers for an eventual Senior Tour program.

The Senior Committee is developing guidelines for senior event play, including recommendations on course lengths, the number of holes played, an Intermediate Senior division, as well as lower entry fees for amateur divisions. We are looking for creative ideas that would make the senior tournament experience better.

Other Senior Committee initiatives include creating a PDGA World Senior Championship that would be inclusive for all senior players globally; expanding the 50-plus Disc Golf Club into regional and local organizations to promote more senior play; and to continue to work at promoting disc golf into State and National Senior Games (Olympics) Associations.

The senior membership built the courses and clubs that positioned the PDGA to become the organization it is today. Now it’s time to reward ourselves with our own programs so we can continue to play and compete in this wonderful sport of ours.

The PDGA Senior Committee is forming a Masters-Plus Tournament Sub-Committee and is looking for Tournament Directors to run these events. If you are interested in serving on the sub-committee or any other initiative, contact the PDGA Senior Committee here or through the 50+Disc Golf Club at [email protected].

Bill Griffith #7917 is the Chairman of the PDGA Senior Committee.


Submitted by dfour26 on

Great Article!! As a MA60, I rarely, if ever, get to place in my division... most time, the people on the cars with me-their total ages-don equal mine.... would like to see considerations for age-protection.. but hey, who knows...

Hopefully it will be getting better. A lot of time it just works out to the number of MA60 players in your area that compete. You can always request a TD to open a division for any 50 and older divisions even if they don't meet the PDGA minimum for a division.

Submitted by dfour26 on

As long as TD's are concerned about payouts and trophy expenses, and until the PDGA requires that tournaments enforce age-protected categories, the point is mute. Treat 60 and older with age bracket protections and you will see stronger turn out

Hope we get more seniors interested in playing. I'm presently in the FA70 which is the oldest division for amateur women. Next year is my 80th birthday yr and I am thinking about changing to MP80. I have tried to get PDGA to offer divisions for WOMEN ages 75 and 80 but am always told there aren't "enough" players to warrant those divisions. My point is, perhaps if it were offered as a division a few more "advanced" seniors might be tempted to give it a try. I also think the tournament directors should be required to offer EVERY division if it is a PDGA sanctioned event. We pay our PDGA membership but often can't play in our age division or have to ASK the TD to open one for us. I don't care if I am the only one in my division and not getting a trophy....I just want the points, even though the points are less than 1.0

Submitted by dfour26 on

I absolutely agree!! This is well said... for the most part, when I ask the TD to open the age bracket for me-they simply say no...

Great points!

My original hesitation for adding more divisions was to keep costs low. Adding another division means another trophy and more scrip payout, with the same budget.

I will be adding MA60 to my tournament in the fall, because this is an important topic, especially as disc golfers age, as we all do...

Every division, men and women experience this issue to some degree. Right now the PDGA recommends that TDs' allow a division of one person for 50 and older divisions but leaves it up to the TD to make the final decision. To require TD's to allow every possible division would be a hardship on the event when they would need to provide trophies for divisions with one or two people and 6 to 8 or more divisions constantly go unfilled. You may not care about a trophy, but if a division of one is required, the next complaint will be from someone who doesn't care about the points, just the trophy. The senior committee will bring this up with the competition committee but it is not as easy as as just requiring all divisions be accomodated.

Submitted by dfour26 on

that is awesome... I think in terms of payouts/prizes, and I appreciate your honesty because that is exactly what this comes down to-communicate with the players and give them the option of competing in their age group(s) or join the other divisions to get in on the prizes/payouts..

Submitted by discgab on

I personally think the prizing excuse is a total lie. If you have 4 MA50s sign up for your tournament I hope that you offer an additional prize for the group that they are in, since that is now a larger division, and increase the prize for the higher places. You could just offer that same prizing to the MA50 division. I would understand if the additional group takes slightly more work to flight, calculate a winner and build a trophy, but all divisions bring in the same amount of money per player. Not saying that every tournament should be required to have MA40, MA50 MA60, MA70 and the FA equivalents. If you know that the tournament will fill and you want to make sure your best players get in, who may be younger, then fine, but the economics are the same for each division unless you offer an AARP discount.
I will definitely sign up for these oldster only events, and yes I am a TD/club director/course maintenance person/ hole builder/ course designer, and the person that advocates for my local course with the town council and parks program. Anyone can do this but for now I the town "disc golf guy". Some of our strongest local players here, are in the age protected divisions, so we always these divisions at tournaments so we don't embarrass the kids (I am only a 850 rated player, but we are also generally the TDs), but it does rub me the wrong way when I am putting a lot into the sport and tournaments choose to not give me a division to play.

Ok.. I appreciate your thoughtfulness.

This will be my first tournament as a TD, so this isn't an attempt at an excuse as much as me trying to provide as much value for as many golfers as I can.

Originally, I was going to offer 5 divisions. 5 trophies at ~100 a piece, that's 500 out of my budget. If I add a 6th division, I'm out another 100 without getting any more added to my budget. And I haven't even factored in scrip...

It's not an excuse, just an observation

Submitted by discgab on

Foremost thank you for your dedication, going through all of the work to become a tournament director, working with local course owner, and holding a sanctioned event. I totally understand that if you are limited to say, 120 players and only plan to offer a trophy for the top finisher in a division, that you will make more money with a full tournament and fewer divisions. Trophies cost money and more divisions would not be helpful. I hope you event goes well!

The senior committee totally understands your points. Many of us are the the ones who have build disc golf to where it is today. That is why we are promoting our Masters+ tournament. But it is a problem for a lot of the standard PDGA events. It sounds like you are working this one out. thanks for the input.

Submitted by yooperman on

TDs need to be encouraged to offer ALL divisions at their events. I have no idea why they don't or won't, but at 67 years old, I am sick and tired of getting beat by MA50s because it's the only division available to me. Enough is enough. If you don't offer my division, I won't play your event, period.

The PDGA recommends that TDs offer divisions for 50 and older divisions if someone requests them but it is up to the TD to make the final decision. The senior committee will take this up with the competition committee to see if something can be worked out.

I have played in 55 sanctioned tournaments with the majority of those being in the MA60 division. I have yet to secure my 1st PDGA win. What is most challenging to me is that I often have to compete against one or more upper-800 or low-900-rated players.

For those of us who start our disc golf careers later in life, we are always trying to play "catch-up" with those players who have 10-20 years of playing experience.

What might "level the playing field" for the Masters groups would be to offer more tourneys having "ratings-based" divisions. I have played competitively in the MA50 division but only because the players had ratings that were under 900.

So bottom line with me would be to ask for more tourneys where masters divisions are ratings-based.

That is a great point. The senior committee is looking into developing Master and older tournament format recommendations and that is one of them. The other option is to offer a master and older intermediate and / or novice division and not just pro and advanced.

It may be too little too late, but thanks for the consideration. Many have echoed my same thoughts. Really tired of the young get off my grass crowd that don't realize my generation planted that grass. The second to last PDGA tournament I attended complimented some woman I never heard of as the mother of disc golf in Montana. I have been playing since 1958 with a Pluto Platter. Last PDGA tournament the two oldest of us had to hike up the side of a mountain to a hole to start both the first and second round. The youngest players started at bottom of mountain. Last year a young person tried to claim he and his friends built the course we were playing. Of course the course was built 28 years before he was born. A course designed when the only "discs" available were Whamo Frisbees. The course built in 1974 still challenges pros with beveled discs. Many courses designed in the beginning didn't hold up.

Submitted by mrlee on

I have only been playing for 5 years and I'm turning 58 this month. I have a 777 rating. I rarely get to play a 55 age bracket. Mostly 50+ age brackets. The playes I compete against have been playing for 10-15 years with ratings in the 900+ range. Honestly, it takes the fun out of the game for me and makes it more stressful going up against such hi ratings. On top of that, if I play in a rec division, there are players with 900 ratings in rec. How does that work? There needs to be a complete revamping of the rating system. Novice should be 0-730, MA3/FA3 731-800, MA2/FA3 801-850, MA1/FA1 851+ And MA40, 50, 55, 60, 70 etc higher rated but give the option for lower rated to play in rec divisions to give them a chance to win but get the same points they would get if they had won their protected age division. Just a thought. Numbers not set in stone but off the top of my head. Right now they are a nightmare and completely unfair. People playing in multiple divisions in different tournaments to give them a better shot at winning and taking advantage of the broken rating system.

There is a ratings based system that can be used but most TDs still prefer the old age based system. One of the recommendations that is being considered for Masters and older events is either using the ratings based system or offering Masters intermediate and /or novice divisions and not just pro and advanced age protected division. It is a start and we will see where it goes.

Submitted by lreading on

In the southeast we have TD’s like Henry Childres, HB Clark, Chuck Connelly and Jay Sauls who have added MA70+ divisions, or have run MASTERS events. Older players really appreciate this opportunity to play with their peers. The annual PDGA Tim Selinski U.S. Masters Championships is another exceptional event for all age-protected divisions.
Thanks to all!

Submitted by Bob Ellis on

We have The Arkansas Masters in Mountain View, Arkansas. September 18-19 will be our 4th year in existence.Our course Bluegrass Trails is one of the best courses in the state of Arkansas and its “Senior Friendly”. We play two rounds on Saturday and a third round on Sunday. Saturday night we help host live music on our courthouse lawn. We’ve only had this Senior tournament until this May 22nd where we gave in to the younger players to utilize our fine course. 18 baskets, 54 tee pads; the tournament has already sold out over one month ahead of time. We’ll have The Arkansas Masters on the PDGA website on May 1.. we expect this years Masters to be sold out by July 1. Our prize packages are very gratuitous and last years a B tier tourney the added payout was $1850. this year bout goal is to have a B tier with an A tier payout. Our town has The Chamber of Commerce and the Mayor solidly helping promote Disc Golf. We’ve modeled out promotions after Emporia’s model. We have access to the city golf course for expansion in ‘2022. Come check us out— stay tuned for videos coming of our tourney and we’ll also show visitors activity’s in and around our town. Our goal is to become a stop on any Senior disc golf tour

Submitted by ddillon80 on

Don Dillon #22726 As the original member and chairman of the Senior Committee, I am pleased to see the continuing action of the Committee to help the seniors play with their peers. I know the feeling of playing with "juniors" let alone, in competition. As the 2010 World Champion in the oldest division, it was a great pleasure. However, competition and winning is not the only reward for playing the great sport of Disc Golf. You know the feeling, better physical condition, better mental coordination, being out doors, and socializing. Read what I originally provided as Committee Chairman. I understand the comments that have been made. I made the same comment in 2005. May I suggest, that you will find more comfort in recruiting your surrounding "Seniors" into the game-gaining more members for the PDGA-creating more players for each "Senior" division and a bigger demand for Senior divisions. In addition, you will have fun for your own local play and socialization. This will be work, as seniors are reluctant to try something new and perhaps expensive. But playing the game and improving with each stroke can be "winning". And then, perhaps a senior tournament? PDGA rules are not necessary to start the ball rolling-just you!

Submitted by dfour26 on

Look, Age protect the Divisions starting at age 55, and the problem gets solved... disc golfers do a lot in terms of advocating and involving others to play-but asking them to take a more aggressive stance to full their own age divisions is not an answer...

Submitted by mrlee on

I can't argue with that comment. I have only had one or two tournaments, in the past several years, that have offered a 55+ division. I've always played with younger players.

Submitted by yooperman on

It's not the answer if they're never used except to create 15 year artificial divisions like MA40-MA55 or 10 year divisions like MA40-50-60. The PDGA changed these divisions several years ago and have done absolutely nothing since to promote them or encourage TDs to use them whenever possible. What they're doing now for seniors is too little too late IMO but we shall see if they're serious or not. I'm not optimistic.

I get some help from some and not from others who just tell me to register in a younger division ! I don't mind playing in younger division but want my registration to be in my division as it goes on my rating with pdga .

The senior committee is promoting Masters and older tournament to offer more opportunities for older players. This should attract more players in every age division but there is no gaurrantee. Every area is different. Some may not have enough older players for a successful event while others like the Ohio State Masters Championship sold out all 92 spots in less than 5 minutes after going on line.

Last year had to play in MA40's 50's & MA 60's in one tournament (they wasn't expecting so large of a turnout) . The Norman Pro-am always offers an MA70 division only have trouble because we have to play pro-t's at Lions park and 2 rounds am-t's at Griffin . There are 2 of us this year at least it's great this way. We lose so many older players as we age this is the sad part i hate to see, so I'm shooting for a 100 lol.

Submitted by quarrypark on

Running divisions with just 1 or 2 players seems pointless to me, and a 55 year old who is uncompetitive in MA4 may be just as far off the lead in an MA50 division. I wonder if there is some way to age-adjust scores. Take a sample of players who have been competing for the last 20 years and see how their ratings have declined: so a 960 rated 50 year old might be predicted to be 942 rated by the time he is 62 and use those stats to give players an age handicap adjustment.
BTW We have been running The Masters at Quarry Park since 2017, we had 32 players that year. We just opened registration for Sept 2021 and had 42 entries in 24 hours, so the demand is there.

At 72 my rating is below 800 what do I compete in when 75/80 ? I want to be registered at my age level even if I have to then play down to MA60 or MA50 is fine I still have a great time . I think some TD's don't get this !

Unfortunately there were only 32 PDGA am players in your division in the entire world last year. You can ask the TD for your own division or continue to play with the 50 and 60 year old 'kids'.

One of the recommendations the senior committee will be coming out with will be either events with divisions based on player ratings or Master on older intermediate and novice divisions with lower player rating thresholds. It's still a work in progress and needs input from the competition committee.
Glad to hear your group is ahead of the curve with the Masters+ event. Keep it going

I am MA 68 years. I love competing and seeing my game and scores improve as I learn more (always learning) and spend time practicing. For me it is personal motivation as well as the competition that keeps me addicted, not to mention the unintended exercise I get.
In tournaments it is not about the “prize money”, though I wouldn’t mind winning back part or all of my entry fee. I don’t need a trophy, I don’t need public acknowledgement and I don’t need a players pack containing 12-14 speed discs (in fact I don’t need any more discs).
Seeing progress in scores and movement in my PDGA player rating is more than enough for me but what a bonus to be able to compete with others of my age group and skills.
In addition to opening higher age divisions it would be great to have DG clinics for seniors.
Whatever we put in motion now will be the foundation for those who will be in our situation sooner than they think. I support and am willing to help in this effort moving forward.

Can you shoot your age?
I’m 63 and at most courses I can.
How many 40+ players can achieve that?
My dream tournament would set par at the player’s age. The player with the lowest number of shots under their “par” wins.
Example: Player A is 55. Player B is 60. Player A shoots a 59 so his score is +4. Player B also shoots a 59 so his score is -1.
Player B wins by shooting one under his “par”.

I love it when someone thinks outside the box. The competition committee would need to weigh in on that. Could be a separate line of handicapped tournament. Thanks.

I am saddened to read about the number of seniors+ who are having difficulty finding folks to compete with. Here in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, years ago many seniors banded together to create a friendly group within which to compete. We have an email distribution of about 50 and there are subgroups who have phone MMS distributions with which we invite each other to play. We get the competition we enjoy without the need to sign up for tournaments.

Glad to hear that. One of the future senior committee initiatives will be to promote more local and regional senior disc golf clubs. We would love to hear more about your group and could use some ideas from what you have started. Please have someone contact us at '[email protected]'. Thanks.


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