I still consider myself a beginner at disc golf. I feel like there are a lot of parts of my game that I can improve on, and a ton more to learn. What I love about disc golf is that you can take your game to whatever level you want to. You can be a casual player who just goes out and plays rounds for fun. You can join a league and play in a casual-competitive environment. You can play in tournaments and play for higher stakes: prizes, money, and a player rating in a competitive environment. You can choose to be a member of the PDGA, or not. No matter what level you play at, anyone can enjoy disc golf.
For me personally, I am an all-in player: I play causally, in leagues, tournaments, and am a member of the PDGA. I want to improve my level of play, and build on to my game. It is important to me to share my love of the game with others and help grow the sport.
But this year I faced the dilemma that many players who play in tournaments do; moving up in divisions. I have been a tournament player for just over a year now. So, how do you know for sure when you’ve improved enough to move up?
As a female player in this area, it’s tough, there are not a lot of us. Often times when I go to a tournament, I could be the only lady there, or there could be a handful of us in different divisions. Whether I win or lose in a division really doesn’t mean anything.
I looked to the PDGA guidelines for divisions:
Advanced Women - Ratings >= 825 Score Range : <70
Intermediate Women – Ratings < 825 Score range: <75
Recreational Women - Ratings < 775 Score range: 75+
Novice Women - Ratings < 725 Score range: 80+
So I find myself “on the bubble” as far as the numbers go. My player rating is currently sitting at 705. But, in the last few rated rounds I have played, my scores have been right around 75 and hovering around the 775 rating. I looked a little deeper into the information on the PDGA site.
I looked closer at the descriptions for the divisions:
Advanced Women - Upcoming players who have played 2-3 years and are gaining consistency and experience. Throw 200-300 feet, make 4-6/10 putts from 25-30 feet, developing different shots
Intermediate Women – Players who have developed basic Frisbee® and disc golf skills and/or have tournament experience. Throw 125-200 feet, make 3-5/10 putts from 20 feet, can throw backhand with some accuracy
Recreational Women - For beginning and casual players who are learning basic Frisbee® and disc golf skills
Novice Women - For beginning and casual players who are learning basic Frisbee® and disc golf skills
This was by far a lot more helpful information to make a decision. According to these descriptions, I feel I definitely fall into the Intermediate division. On my home courses, I can see where I am improving, my drives are longer, my approaches are shorter, and my putts are coming a lot easier. I also looked back at my tournament history. My first PDGA tournament was last June. I played in a tournament at the same course this June and improved 22 strokes over last year’s total. I couldn’t even believe it at first. My goal for this year was to try to improve on my scores by 5 strokes.
Armed with this information, it was a lot easier to come to a decision; time to move up. I may not win since I am at the lower end of the division, but that’s really not what is important to me. I don’t have to win on paper, I win with experience and knowledge. If I want to keep improving, I need to play at the level I want to be. I need to observe competitors that are better than me and learn from them. They may see a line that I can’t, make smarter decisions, or have a technique that may work for me. If you are not open to learning how another player plays their game and only focused on a win, you are doing yourself a disservice.
I’m excited to see how my game will improve in the next year! Tournament season is in full swing now and it’s the prime time to get out there and throw. I hope some of you will take the leap with me and take your game to the next level!