We all like to compare ourselves to each other, see how we rate, and brag to our friends! But how exactly do you find out you player rating and what does the rating actually mean?
A disc golf player rating is a weighted average score, based on your last 12 months’ worth of competition scores, or longer if the player doesn’t have 8 competitive scores in that time. The rating is then calculated based off a hypothetical scratch player who would score 1000 on the same course.
That may sound complicated on the face of it, but let’s break it down so you get an idea of what different rating mean.
What is a scratch disc golfer?
There isn’t really a definitive description for a scratch golfer.
The Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) loosely uses the word scratch golfer along with terms such as ‘good player’ which keeps things tricky for us players.
If you’re looking for a ballpark description, I would describe a scratch golfer as a very good professional player who will play consistently to a high level on any course.
Why do I say this?
When player ratings are calculated they are always calculated against a ‘scratch scorers average’ – i.e. the average score a scratch (good) player will get on the course.
Now, the PDGA doesn’t actually tell us the exact formula that they use to calculate this value but they base it on the scores of at least 5 players who already have a rating over 699 and are playing the course at the same time as you, if there are fewer than 5 rated players in the tournament then there is a manual method of calculating the scratch score average, which again, isn’t revealed by the PDGA.
The scratch score average (SSA) for a course is then set at 1000 points, and let’s say that the hypothetical SSA player shoots 50 on a course to get that 1000 points, if you too throw a 50 for the course you will get 1000 points as you are matching the SSA player.
Throw less than 50 shots and you’ll get a score above 1000, throw more and you’ll get a score under 1000.
How far above or below 1000 you get will depend on the value of a stroke at that course. By comparing the scores of at least 5 players playing on the course to get the SSA score, the SSA score will account for the course difficulty, weather conditions and any other factors which might affect a player on any given day. In that respect the system is very good at adjusting for conditions outside of a player’s control.
I typically see on most courses a stroke worth between 7-13 rating points. Therefore, if I shot a 48 on a SSA 50 course with each throw being worth 10 points, my rating for that round would be 1000 + (2×10) = 1020.
Likewise, if I shot a 52, my rating would be 1000 – (2×10) = 980.
Your overall rating is the calculated based off an average of your last 12 month’s ratings (or longer if you played fewer than 8 ratings events in that time), with outliers when you may have performed really badly removed and your most recent event ratings weighted higher than older events.
By weighting newer ratings higher your rating is much more sensitive to your recent form which makes them a good indicator of form as well as ability.
How many 1000 rated disc golf players are there?
So what is a good player rating if a ‘good’ scratch player will score 1000?
Most people are surprised by this, but a score of over 1000 is actually very rare! So don’t beat yourself up if you’re rating is much lower.
At the time of writing this there are only around 450 players in the world with official ratings over 1000 according to the PDGA rating system. In other words, only about 0.3% of players who are registered with the PDGA system are better than a scratch player.
I did a bit of research and found the following percentages of players have ratings of the number on the right of this table or better:
|Percentage of players
If you can get to a player rating of 843 you are in the top half of rated disc golf players worldwide! It should be noted that this is based on all registered players, and a lot of players don’t have an official rating which does skew the data slightly.
How to calculate your disc golf rating
Now you know how the ratings are calculated – how do you calculate your own rating?
The bad news is that you can’t calculate your own rating. That’s because we don’t know how the PDGA create the benchmark scratch score for different courses.
The good news is that it’s pretty easy to get a rating. If you enter any officially recognised PDGA tournament you will be registered as a player and receive a rating after the tournament. Once a month the ratings are then updated and put on the PDGA website so you’ll be able to see your name and rating online which makes it all feel very official.
You can then show off to your friends that you’re in the top X% of players in the world – I find it also makes a great truth for the game two truths and a lie!
Who is the best disc golfer?
With only 0.3% of players sitting with ratings over that magical 1000 score mark – who is the best disc golf player?
As the ratings are very fluid with more recent events given a heavier weighting the ratings of the best players is constantly changing.
At the time of writing the highest ranked player in the world is Paul McBeth. Paul has been playing disc golf for the best part of two decades and has over $500,000 in career prize money to his name and a player rating of 1058!
I hope you’ve found this article useful and it’s taught you how disc golf rating work and given you a benchmark to compare yourself against. Time to go enter some tournaments and get your own rating, happy throwing!