Disc Golf Etiquette

Ratings Manipulation and my 1st 2013 IceBowl

Snowbowl 2009Anyone who gets emails from PDGA Disc Golf Weekly recently got an email about the PDGA’s effort to curtail Ratings Manipulation,  http://www.pdga.com/ratings-manipulation-addressed.  The PDGA has created a new designation to be used when a golfer is “deliberately seeking to manipulate ones player rating through intentional misplay or withdrawal.”  This designation will prevent the player from benefiting from the withdrawal or misplay.  It is dependent on the TD making a judgement call about the players intentions.

I’ve withdrawn from two events and both were because of extreme weather combined with poor lodging arrangements.   I can’t say that I have ever seen a player intentionally drop strokes though maybe some of the explosions I’ve seen were intentional.  I have seen and heard of guys withdrawing to protect their rating.  I’m not sure how big a specific problem this is for disc golf.  Hopefully, this change will bring the intended result.

I see this as an acknowledgement by the PDGA that the integrity of our sport is a big area of opportunity for improvement.  I remember a few specific things from a survey recently given by the PDGA, a few specific themes of concern.  I was asked if I would be comfortable with alcohol and tobacco sponsors for discgolf – I answered No.  They also asked if I would agree with standardized fee structures to pay Tournament Directors and regulate payouts – I answered Yes.  Finally, I recall them asking about pay-to-play discgolf courses and my willingness to pay – I said I would.

I think that if we are going to evolve Disc Golf’s status and stature as a competitive sport, we need to join in this dialog with the PDGA, Tournament Directors, and the community about how we can significantly impact the image of our sport.  I think it is clear the PDGA feels the same way about image and integrity as I do and are seeking ways to improve.

I played the Rocklin IceBowl last weekend and had a very good time.  The chili was awesome.  I played pretty well, the back hand was working and I got a couple birds off it.  I’ve been re-reading “Zen Putting” for a future post and I think it helped me quite a bit as I stayed on a very even keel throughout the ups and downs.  I was quite consistent putting from 15′, made a really nice 60′ putt for birdie, and only dropped a couple strokes that bothered me.  Miller finally got out of the house and walked the rounds with me.  I really enjoyed the discussion about shot selection and strategy and see the value of a caddy.

Couple odd things about this event are important to note.    First, the pay-out was cash for all divisions – pretty cool.  Also, I was not as worried about the etiquette at this event as  it was  unsanctioned, local, and intended to be a more fun and laid back environment.    I am looking forward to my 2nd IceBowl and the start of my 2013 PDGA Tournament season this weekend in Penn Valley.  I am interested to see how well I can keep to my stated goals; I didn’t do well this tournament.

There was a nice competition among the players to see who could bring the most donation food and I witnessed several guys with multiple bags full of canned food.  The best part of the IceBowl series is that it is a food drive for the needy and all participants are required to donate.

However, It seems clear that a lot of players played below their usual competitive level and I have to presume it was because of the cash pay-outs.  I was plus 1 the first round and plus 2 the second – which is pretty good for me at Rocklin, which always tests my D .  In the intermediate division that would normally be two decent rounds, my best being a 1 down at the Gold Pan in 2011.  The second round, I played with guys who normally play advanced.  The winner of the recreational division was under par.  I cano’t draw any other conclusion.

The event was for a good cause and I had a good time but this event might be a good example of why the PDGA is concerned about Tournament and Competition integrity.  People will take whatever advantage they can find and will push the limits of what is considered cheating – particularly without a governing body to reign them in.  I have seen several events skewed for the local participants, seen TD’s change hole positions at the request of locals, with locals sandbagging being the biggest offense.

I personally felt a little let down for a few holes once I realized what was going on and I heard a couple gripes about the sandbagging.  This kind of manipulation of competition is exactly why we need the PDGA and exactly why ratings systems need to be fully utilized.  We should only be able to manipulate our ratings through our play and I applaud the PDGA for addressing the issue.

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Categories: Disc Golf Etiquette

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