Sanctioning ensures that I as a competitor, will be paid out in an acceptable fashion should I happen to win or cash. It tells me what the payouts might be or at least how much added money there is. It tells me what rules will be in play, how I can expect to deal with rule violations, etc. Also I'll be able to view upcoming sanctioned events, how big the field is, the level of competition, and so on. I can find ratings for the courses and directions to and from the event via the course directory.
I think being hugely undersold for what you get for your money is PDGA offered event insurance. Only by being a large organization can they provide the event insurance, and TDs can attest lots of the venues in lots of towns require at least 1 million in coverage. I am sure some people have alternatives, but for my events I could not find anything that even came close to the value the PDGA could provide.
Maintaining the ratings is the best method for ensuring the ams have a fair competition, without it everyone has the opportunity to bag. Play a unsanctioned event and take a look around, it can be a real problem that just leads to unhappy contestants and the liklihood of souring on the tournament scene. Is it perfect? No. but only because non-members can still choose whichever division they want, and without TD intervention, and they can't know everyone, they still can sign up wherever, but don't undersell what the ratings do for you.
Clearly somebody has to be an authority, the PDGA has done a great job of collecting tweaking and making available those rules. Just like legal isuues ignorance isn't a defence. You should know them, get a book, use the web, take an officials test and become an official. But knowing them as a competitor should be your responsibility. Each time any discussion on PDGA/Rules comes up, alcohol, drugs and the collared shirts comes up. With respect to the first two you can head directly back to insurance. You can not possibly believe that insurance would be granted at a reasonable rate if drinking were allowed while people were hurling 175 gram sharp objects. I am sure the rule has something to do with representing the sport, something to do with safety, and something to do with the legality of those actions at the particular venue. On all counts its appropriate. Debate and changes to existing rules appear to me open to anyone wishing to bring issues forward through the proper channels, if you don't know what those are then you need to find out.
All the promotional, teaching, charity, course developement programs obviously benefit you as a member. More courses is obvious ,more players means more tourneys bigger fields and eventually bigger prizes.
Is it easy to see where you $50 splits into all those things and many more, probably not. But until you as an individual, try to run your own event, pitch your own course to a city or town, get disc golf in schools, or countless other examples you'll basically have no idea how much they are doing for you behind the scenes.
while i do like the pdga, i don't agree that the pace needs increased too much
the wait between rounds is to let all players finish R1, and to tally scorecards and redo groups, takes more time and effort than one might think