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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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Chuck Kennedy said:
Donny Olow said:
Chuck Kennedy said:
Donny Olow said:
I have never played Am. I have played in the Pro divisions since 1979.
You're just an old Am that retains the inappropriate pro label that the pioneers thought sounded cooler when the sport started. Did you ever make more than you spent in any year you've played counting all expenses like travel and lodging? We can look at the stats and most players hit their "natural" skill level within a few years of starting competitive play. There are more players who will continue to play within the same range of scores as there are newbies on the way up passing thru. Nothing wrong with players playing up to test themselves and perhaps enjoy rubbing shoulders with better players. But that doesn't mean they'll ever cash there unless everyone else feels pressure to move up.

I have paid taxes on my Disc Golf winnings to the IRS.
Might need a better accountant. ;-)

I was earning more than $ 600.00 a year playing Disc Golf and by the law you have to file. You should see my write offs !!!!
Donny Olow said:
Chuck Kennedy said:
Donny Olow said:
Chuck Kennedy said:
Donny Olow said:
I have never played Am. I have played in the Pro divisions since 1979.
You're just an old Am that retains the inappropriate pro label that the pioneers thought sounded cooler when the sport started. Did you ever make more than you spent in any year you've played counting all expenses like travel and lodging? We can look at the stats and most players hit their "natural" skill level within a few years of starting competitive play. There are more players who will continue to play within the same range of scores as there are newbies on the way up passing thru. Nothing wrong with players playing up to test themselves and perhaps enjoy rubbing shoulders with better players. But that doesn't mean they'll ever cash there unless everyone else feels pressure to move up.

I have paid taxes on my Disc Golf winnings to the IRS.
Might need a better accountant. ;-)

I was earning more than $ 600.00 a year playing Disc Golf and by the law you have to file. You should see my write offs !!!!
Anyone who isn't sponsored should rarely be in a position to pay taxes even if they make a fair amount of winnings. There are usually more than enough write-offs to get you to break even and even taking a loss two out of five years. I doubt you lived on that $600 which was my original point.
I don't think anyone can live on just Disc Golf winnings !!!!! You have to be Sponsored , sell Disc's , Courses , Baskets, Clothing etc.

Even for those who are " Sponsored " , They really are not. Who pays for the Airline tickets , Rental Cars , Hotel Rooms , Food , etc. A 3 day weekend tournament for me , could be more than $ 600.00 out of pocket if I support the event , buy additional Disc's , etc.

Disc Golf is not cheap if you travel.
Donny Olow said:
I don't think anyone can live on just Disc Golf winnings !!!!! You have to be Sponsored , sell Disc's , Courses , Baskets, Clothing etc.

Even for those who are " Sponsored " , They really are not. Who pays for the Airline tickets , Rental Cars , Hotel Rooms , Food , etc. A 3 day weekend tournament for me , could be more than $ 600.00 out of pocket if I support the event , buy additional Disc's , etc.

Disc Golf is not cheap if you travel.
That was my point from the beginning. Very few are pros in the conventional definition of making a living strictly from playing disc golf.
OK, you two, that's enough, take it outside!
Bill Burns said:
OK, you two, that's enough, take it outside!
I'm working "outside the box" possibly more than not! :)
Responding to Mark's initial post, I have an idea for a ratings based format that is pretty fair and it is based on a very simple concept: get rid of the idea that the ratings breaks should be the same at every tournament.

Supposed the bottom division consisted of the lowest rated player and every player within 40 rating points above her. The next division consists of the next player and everyone within 40 rating points above him. You do this through the entire pool of players until you get to the top. The top division would be the remaining players that aren't 40 points wide. If that division is less than 20 points wide, you combine that division with the last 40 point wide division to make the last division, unless the combined division would be more than 70 points wide.

No one is stuck being one point above a rating cut off every time. No one knows coming in where they will be, because even if you recruited the lowest player, you still don't know about the "dead zones" between the divisions.

If any TD is interested in running this tournament, I can also explain how to fit it on a PDGA TD report.

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