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If there was only one division at every tournament then no one would be accused of sandbagging. Of course, most players would not enter such an event since they have no realistic chance of winning or cashing.

Our tournaments generally have multiple divisions based on classification (Am or Pro), ratings, gender and age. Some players are proponents of only using ratings to determine the divisions. Evidently they find it distressing that there are so many different divisions which host players of overlapping skills.

A Tournament Director can decide which divisions to offer. The TD can offer only one division (like the USDGC or Amateur Nationals) or restrict which divisions are offered. If the TD chooses not to sanction the tournament with the PDGA then he or she can invent any divisional structure they want.

At first glance it would seem that the fairest way to create divisions would be by ratings. If we accept the premise that ratings are essentially accurate (which I personally do)-that is to say that the handicap rating given to a player is a reasonably accurate measure of how well the player has performed in past tournaments-then players of similar handicaps should be able to compete fairly against one another regardless of classification, age or gender.

My personal experience is that ratings are the least fair method of creating divisions. This is because ratings divisions are based on arbitrary numerical ranges. Just as an example, let's say the top division is above 970. The second division is 970 to 920. The third division is 919 to 869 and the lowest division is below 868. So let's deal with two players, Joe the Plumber whose rating is 971 and Barack Calhoun McCain (BCM) whose rating is 970. Poor Joe the Plumber is doomed to donate in his division. There are a handful of pros well over 1000 rated who will crush Joe darn near any day and everyone in his division is better than he is. Meanwhile BCM, only one rating point below Joe is the top rated player in his division and will cash even if he plays poorly and is likely to be at the very top in his division if he plays well.

In a ratings based division the numerical range is always arbitrary. No matter where it is set it will hugely benefit some players and hugely harm others.

No other divisional criteria is arbitrary. Classifications (AM or Pro) are voluntary. No one can complain about the choice they make. Gender is rationally based. Men are bigger and stronger than women. Age is rationally based. The great cycle of life dictates that a person starts small and weak, develops into adulthood and eventually declines in old age.

It is possible to manipulate a rating. If BCM wants to stay in his division he can sometimes play poorly on purpose to insure this. No one can manipulate their gender (surgery notwithstanding) or their age.

In the lower divisions the unfairness of ratings is less severe. Basic skills in our sport are relatively easy to acquire. (It's the beauty of the game: it's easy to develop competance but near impossible to master) So players with decent athletic ability should be able to move up from the lower divisions over time. A player may be at the bottom of a division this year and rise to the top the division eventually. As a player improves, the next level is more difficult to obtain than the last. Everyone has natural ceiling based on their talents. The closer a player gets to that ceiling the tougher the climb.

So a new tournament player still developing their game can shoot 50 points over his rating on a good round and 100 points over on a great round. A player close to their natural ceiling is hard pressed to shoot 30 points over their rating.

What then can be done about the most grating (for some) scenario where the best players compete in different divisions (Open and Pro Masters)? Does anything need to be done? And can't a TD manipulate entry fees and payouts to encourage the best players to choose the top division?

Tags: age, divisions, protected, ratings, sandbagging

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I don't agree, the current pdga setup will only let you win so many tournaments until you are forced to move up until you reach the amateur ceiling. I DO however think the non-member division is a good idea. I want to win merch. Hey, I have donated plenty of money with nothing to show for it. It's the nature of being competitive. I won't be complaining about it when I am the one winning, that's for sure!

Bogeyman said:
Mark says: Bogeyman claimed: "Maybe what we need to do is "keep rating levels" but get rid of the TERM "AM", since the majority of the tournaments are PDGA supported, let there be classes as: Novice Intermediate Advanced Expert"
Bogeyman, perhaps there are no true Ams since Ams play for plastic coins (merchandise) but that genie is out of the bottle. If the PDGA mandated that Ams could not receive merchandise (Trophy Only) then unsanctioned events which paid out merch would become vastly more popular. I’m not sure why an Am winning a cool prize is bad. We celebrate a Pro winning a big payout. Why is it wrong for the Am?
As far as Ams taking cash, my concern is that a high school or college age disc golfer might harm his/her eligibility to compete in other sports (NCAA rules).

The nomenclature of the Am divisions should be Am1, Am2, Am3 or Am4. It is logical and intuitive. Beginner, Novice, Recreational and whatever the newest name they switch to are not intuitive and endlessly confusing.
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B.J. says: Mark, I do agree with your AM1-2-3-4 etc. set up, it's much easier to understand than the current "Division Names". Still I don't think the PDGA or yourself really LOOKS at current DG practices. It is "ALL ABOUT THE MONEY", even in lowly "DG Club League Play", you've got to fork up $5-10 to play, then there's money for ACE Pot, Money for a TAG, then there's a lot of "SIDE BETTING" going on, I've seen this and I've only been playing DG and a local DG Club Member for 1 year!!!!!

The Merch/Plastic, etc. is the same as MONEY, it's just in a different form, That's the problem, as you rise to the top of a "playing level", you "EXPECT" to get compensated, that pretty much takes the, "Play for the Love of the GAME" out of the equation, if your realistic at all. All I suggested was to do what the PDGA really want's, make the Association a place for PRO's. If you are really WORRIED about "High School or College players" status, then the PDGA NEEDS to split off the AM's into a seprate grouping and there should be NO Merch awarded for winning, only trophies or ribbions. Now a Players Package is ok, that goes to EVERY PLAYER!! There REALLY NEEDS to be a ADGA, within the PDGA.

How can you be a member of the "Professional Disc Golf Assoc." and be afraid that your play might "hurt your sport status" in other AM/school sports, this seems to me to be a "Oxymoron of a situation" and should be addressed and fixed, within the PDGA. Being a PROFESSIONAL is all about, BEING PAID for competetion, weither by Merch or Cash it's not really any different. The PDGA is just afraid to loose the AM's FEE MONEY for tournament play, as I've stated before, the money for the winnings of the PRO's should come from PRO entry Fees and OUTSIDE Sponsorship. No you don't need MEGA Corp or TV sponsors, PDGA should seek out "Mom and Pop" business that want to get their name out in the area of the tournament to create that "Supplementel Cash" to Pay the PRO Level Players, not AM Fees, jmho.

The problem is that the PDGA is truely "AFRAID" to step up and be the organization for the PRO Disc Golf Player and then establish a program that is TRUELY, AMATUER in nature for the rest of us, throwers of plastic.. Yes, it's just my opinon and we all know what opinions are like, LOL!!

Take care, have FUN, Throw Plastic!

B.J. (b
put the non members together. who knows if they are playing a division that they should, w/o a rating.
stevo said:
put the non members together. who knows if they are playing a division that they should, w/o a rating.
There's no reason that non-members can't be required to play in the Advanced or Open divisions. It's up to the TDs to prevent non-members from sandbagging.
i agree stevo. or make them play in am 1 or open. that will stop the bagging. I am a rec player that like the tourney scene. i will continue in am 3 as long as my rating allows or i win an am 3 event

stevo said:
put the non members together. who knows if they are playing a division that they should, w/o a rating.
Eirik, my 1st. suggestion was to "get rid" of AM, within the PDGA, that way YOU would be playing for CASH at each Pro Level, (say Pro 1-Pro 5 level), each level would be playing for a "CASH" prize with each level. Instead of winning a few disc's you might not use and have to sell on E-bay as a "cashing AM" would. But Mark, didn't like my 1st. suggestion so I gave a 2nd. suggestion, which is better than just "complaining" and not giving a solution, jmho.

Take care, have FUN, Throw Plastic!

B.J. (bogeyman) Ondo
Colorado Springs, CO.
I don't understand the problem you are finding the solution for?

Bogeyman said:
Eirik, my 1st. suggestion was to "get rid" of AM, within the PDGA, that way YOU would be playing for CASH at each Pro Level, (say Pro 1-Pro 5 level), each level would be playing for a "CASH" prize with each level. Instead of winning a few disc's you might not use and have to sell on E-bay as a "cashing AM" would. But Mark, didn't like my 1st. suggestion so I gave a 2nd. suggestion, which is better than just "complaining" and not giving a solution, jmho.

Take care, have FUN, Throw Plastic!

B.J. (bogeyman) Ondo
Colorado Springs, CO.
Chuck Kennedy said:
stevo said:
put the non members together. who knows if they are playing a division that they should, w/o a rating.
There's no reason that non-members can't be required to play in the Advanced or Open divisions. It's up to the TDs to prevent non-members from sandbagging.

In Practice how do they do it? Do they have to do it before the round, after one round. Because without some prior history with an unrated player or a tip I'm not sure how they would. I would think it would be hard to know all the unrated players particularily since some would be travelling etc.
TDs can offer divisions to non-members and they can either accept the terms or not play. If the TD is unsure and the player is carrying a competition bag with a dozen discs, the TD might figure they are a decent player and offer Advanced or Open. TDs do get the ratings of non-current PDGA members so it's really only those who have never been PDGA members that might be a concern. Another option for TDs is to offer a player who insists on playing Intermediate (and seems suspiciously better) just a reduced price entry fee as Trophy Only in Intermediate but full price in Advanced. If they play Intermediate, they can't win any merch, just the trophy. Or they can play in Advanced with no prize restrictions.
Chuck Kennedy said:
TDs can offer divisions to non-members and they can either accept the terms or not play. If the TD is unsure and the player is carrying a competition bag with a dozen discs, the TD might figure they are a decent player and offer Advanced or Open. TDs do get the ratings of non-current PDGA members so it's really only those who have never been PDGA members that might be a concern. Another option for TDs is to offer a player who insists on playing Intermediate (and seems suspiciously better) just a reduced price entry fee as Trophy Only in Intermediate but full price in Advanced. If they play Intermediate, they can't win any merch, just the trophy. Or they can play in Advanced with no prize restrictions.

That's too much work. From my experiences, I agree with SIMPLER is BETTER. Sure it was nice to see new faces and be asked at registration time "What division should I play in?" but if you are a one man show, this process just slows you down.

My ideas about templates, by the way, wasn't meant to imply that the PDGA should tell the wonderful volunteer TDs how to do things. It's just that most events are run pretty much the same way, and if there were a collection of templates, or checklists, or guidelines, o something that the TD was supposed to select and follow... then it might be useful for new TD's, and give a better understanding of what a disc golf tourney is (to local media, sponsors, bystanders, whoever), and give an exact level of expectation to the players as to what that tourney is going to give the player, and the PDGA would know all the details, too. But instead of listing all the details over and over and over, if we just said "version 9" or something like that, people would know, or they could go look it up.

By the way, Mr Kennedy and Mr Ellis are among my disc golf heros. And i think this website is cool.
okay you pervs...stop already! Old men, old women, young men young women, that's the way it should be, the problem is..there are not enough women!!! I actually don't really care, I like all ages of men, after all we're only talking golf here, but seriously, there needs to be more women!!!
Bogeyman said:
Nibs Carter said:
I think old men and young women should play together! ;>)

Nibs, I'll second that class, any day!! Sign me up!! ;)

B.J. (Bogeyman) Ondo :)
Colorado Springs, CO.
Out here , there seems to be more Am players than Open ? What happened ?
Donny Olow said:
Out here , there seems to be more Am players than Open ? What happened ?
Most 'pros' are just amateurs who are allowed to play for cash.

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