How Do You Get A Disc Golf Rating?

Your Disc Golf rating is given by the PDGA (the Professional Disc Golf Association) and is a number that shows how close your average round scores are compared to the course rating – or the Scratch Scoring Averages (SSA) – of the courses you’ve played in competition.

If you average the SSA on courses played you’ll have a rating of 1000 and be considered a ‘scratch player.’ 

To get a rating you just need to enter a PDGA sanctioned event, as your results will be automatically entered into their ratings system.

Only the ratings of current PDGA members are published, but your first rating can be calculated after just one valid round of tournament play.

Your rating will then be posted on your player profile alongside your tournament results the next time the ratings are updated, usually on the second Tuesday of every month. 

The PDGA rating system was established in 2002 and has helped to reduce the problem of ‘sandbagging’ within the game. Sandbagging is when players enter a division below their skill level.

The ratings system is used to group amateur players in competition divisions to ensure that no players are entering divisions below their rating, making for a more level playing field. 

How are Disc Golf Ratings Calculated?

The PDGA calculates round ratings for all sanctioned singles and league rounds where the proper scores and course layouts have been submitted by the Tournament Director. Ratings are not currently calculated for doubles and team events.

While ratings tend to update on the second Tuesday of every month, depending on when a game was played, some ratings may not be automatically updated on that date.

Also, depending on when the Tournament Director submits their official report, it may be several months for an event’s official ratings to be calculated and posted. 

However, a Tournament Director will usually post the scores of an event to the PDGA website during or straight after a tournament. The final ratings for the previous year are usually posted in the ratings update for February. 

Player ratings: Ratings for players are usually based on rounds in the 12 months prior to the date of their most recently rated round. The most recent 25% of rounds will count as double once there are at least 8 round ratings. The better your recent performances, the better your rating!

However, if you’ve played less than 8 rounds within a 12-month period, the system will look back at 24 months until it finds 8 rounds, or it will take into account all the rounds within the 24-month period if you’ve played less than 8 rounds. 

If you have not completed a round, it will not be included in the round count of your ratings, but all members should receive a rating even if they only have one rated round.

Round ratings: Your rating for each round is based on how well you shoot when compared to a hypothetical scratch player – a player with a rating of 1000.

This automated calculation uses scores from at least 5 players with ratings over 699 whose rating has been determined by at least 8 rounds of play.

These players are called propagators, and if there are less than 5 propagators (or none at all) the PDGA will use a manual process to produce ratings.

The initial calculation determines the Scratch Scoring Average (SSA) for each round. The SSA is the score a scratch player with a rating of 1000 would most likely average on that course.

So if the SSA is calculated as 50 for an 18-hole course, any player who shot a 50 in that round would receive a rating of 1000.

For a course with that level of difficulty, each throw would be worth about 10 rating points. Likewise, if you shot 60, your rating for that round would be 900 because your shot was 10 throws worse than the SSA.

Unless the wind alters significantly between rounds, all scores thrown on the same course layout in multiple rounds are used to determine the combined SSA.

However, course layouts do not have fixed SSA, and the SSA can vary depending on the season and weather conditions.

10 rating points per throw is usually standard for 18-hole courses with SSA values between 48-53. However, as a course increases or decreases in difficulty, the number of rating points per throw will change.

For example, an easier course with an SSA of 44 will probably have a ‘13 points per throw’ rule. However, on harder courses that have an SSA about 68, throws will probably be worth about 6 rating points.

But why do rating points per throw change depending on the difficulty of the course? Well, it’s because of an effect called ‘compression.’ If a course is particularly easy, players who perform at a high standard can only shoot so well as they are limited to scoring no more than 2 on practically every hole.

But because most of the holes on these courses are usually wider and less than 250 feet, even players with lower ratings can score 2 points. This compresses or narrows the range of scores for players of varying abilities in that round. 

Meanwhile, a harder course with an SSA of 60 or more will widen the range of scores in each round compared to a course with a scoring average of around 50 for scratch players.

The Difference Between Unofficial and Official Ratings and Results

As we have mentioned, Tournament Directors can upload tournament scores to the PDGA’s website via the PDGA Tournament Manager app.

Preliminary unofficial ratings do get calculated for each round, and the results of the event at this preliminary stage are usually considered ‘Unofficial Results.’

Once the PDGA receives the official tournament report from the Tournament Director, course layout assignments are verified, the points are calculated and the scores become certified as official.

Round ratings for each event are also then officially calculated and player ratings will be updated for all members.