Understanding 2023 PDGA Divisional Codes

New divisional codes that the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) recently unveiled have prompted concerns and disagreements among disc golf enthusiasts. Players and enthusiasts have expressed excitement, curiosity, and some reservations about these changes. The motivations behind the PDGA’s decision to impose new divisional codes, their effects on professional players, and how these changes have changed players’ strategies will all be covered in this blog article. 

The Evolution of Disc Golf Divisions

Over the years disc golf has grown significantly, and more players are participating in competitions and events. The PDGA created numerous divisions depending on ability level, age, and gender to accommodate the growing player base and guarantee fair competition. These divisions, which included Open, Advanced, Intermediate, and Recreational, allowed competitors to face opponents with comparable ability levels.

What are the PDGA Divisional Codes?

Understanding the new divisional codes’ importance requires understanding the PDGA divisions’ structure and intended use. The PDGA oversees professional disc golf, plans competitions, and divides players into groups according to their skill levels. The divisional designations are used to categorize players and guarantee fair competition.

Prior to this change, a letter (M for Men, F for Women, or X for Mixed) was followed by a number designating the player’s ability level in the PDGA divisional classifications. As an illustration, MPO stood for the Open division for men and FPO for the Open division for women. Although these codes gave a broad picture of the divisions, they didn’t accurately represent the variety of skill levels within each category, which caused irregularities and made it challenging to classify players.

These shortcomings are addressed by the new PDGA divisional codes, which introduce a more nuanced and complete approach. Players are still classified by gender (M for Men, F for Women) in the new system, but they are now allocated a three-digit number that symbolizes their ability level. The first digit shows the player’s talent in relation to the highest-rated professionals, the second digit in relation to the division, and the third digit in relation to the division. MPO 1000, for example, denotes a player whose skill level is equivalent to or higher than the highest-rated professionals. In contrast, FPO 900 denotes a player who competes at a level somewhat lower than the highest-rated women professionals.

Age-Based Divisions

The PDGA has established several age-based divisions for players of various ages:

PDGA CodePDGA Code Name2022 PDGA Pro Rating Cap2023 PDGA Pro Rating Cap
MA40Mixed Amateur 40+<935<920
MA50Mixed Amateur 50+<900<910
MA55Mixed Amateur 55+<900<905
MA60Mixed Amateur 60+<850<900
MA65Mixed Amateur 65+<850<885
MA70Mixed Amateur 70+<800<860
MA75Mixed Amateur 75+N/A<840
MA80Mixed Amateur 80+N/A<840
FA40Women’s Amateur 40+<825<820
FA50Women’s Amateur 50+<775<805
FA55Women’s Amateur 55+<775<795
FA60Women’s Amateur 60+<725<790
FA65Women’s Amateur 65+<725<785
FA70Women’s Amateur 70+<700<740
FA75Women’s Amateur 75+N/A<720
FA80Women’s Amateur 80+N/A<720

1 – Junior Divisions: 

These divisions are for players aged 8 and under, 10 and under, 12 and under, 15 and under, and 18 and under. These divisions allow younger players to compete against their peers and develop their skills within their age range.

2 – Amateur Divisions: 

The PDGA offers age-protected amateur divisions for players who are 40 years old and above. These divisions are divided into specific age groups such as Masters 40+, Masters 50+, Masters 60+, and so on. These divisions allow older players to compete against others within their age range.

PDGA Divisional Code2022 PDGA Code Name2023 PDGA Code Name
MA1AdvancedMixed Amateur 1
MA2IntermediateMixed Amateur 2
MA3RecreationalMixed Amateur 3
MA4NoviceMixed Amateur 4
FA1Advanced WomenWomens Amateur 1
FA2Intermediate WomenWomens Amateur 2
FA3Recreational WomenWomens Amateur 3
FA4Novice WomenWomens Amateur 4

3 – Professional Divisions: 

The PDGA also has age-protected professional divisions for players who are 40 years old and above. These divisions are similar to the amateur divisions and include age groups such as Pro Masters 40+, Pro Masters 50+, Pro Masters 60+, and more. Professional players in these divisions compete for prize money and rankings against other professionals in their respective age groups.

2023 PDGA Divisions Demographics and Rating Caps - Players with Mixed and Women’s Eligibility
(Source) 2023 PDGA Divisions Demographics and Rating Caps – Players with Mixed and Women’s Eligibility
Number of players in their primary division who fall below the current rating cap. Targeting the top 20% of all players in each division to be pros.

The Need for Change

So, why were these adjustments required? One of the primary reasons is disc golf’s quick expansion and diversification. The sport has seen an inflow of players of varied ability levels, necessitating the development of a more precise system for classifying them. The former divisional codes were ineffective at distinguishing between players of varying ability levels within the same division. This resulted in scenarios in which highly skilled players competed against those who were relatively less skilled, producing an imbalance in competitiveness and hurting the game’s general fairness.

The new divisional codes were created in order to address the following issues:

Skill Level Distinctions

The previous divisional codes did not effectively identify players of varied ability levels. As a result, talent differences within divisions became excessively wide, resulting in unfair competition. The new divisional codes are intended to refine divisions and give a more level playing field.

Player Experience

Disc golf is a sport that prioritizes fair play and a fun playing experience. The PDGA hopes to improve the experience of all players by establishing more specific divisional codes. This assures that individuals compete against opponents of similar ability levels, resulting in more engaging and satisfying tournaments.

The Professionalisation of Sport

As disc golf gains respect as a professional sport, developing divisional codes that appropriately represent players’ skill levels is critical. This promotes the sport’s validity and professionalism, generating more sponsorship opportunities and enhancing its profile.

Impact on Professional Players

The new divisional codes have considerably impacted professional players, influencing their competitive landscape and career paths. Here are some significant outcomes:

1 – Greater Competition: 

The improved divisional codes have resulted in more competitive divisions, ensuring that players are always challenged. Professionals face harder competition as skill gaps shrink, forcing them to up their game and develop their skills even further.

2 – Improved Fairness: 

Fairness is essential in any sport, and the new divisional codes strive to achieve that. Placing participants with similar skill levels in the same divisions makes tournaments more equitable, as it eliminates the likelihood of highly competent players overpowering less experienced opponents.

3 – Strategy Reevaluation: 

Professional players must adapt their methods to the new competitive field created by the redefined divisional codes. They must examine the strengths and weaknesses of their divisional competitors and design proper game strategies in order to excel in their respective divisions.

4 – Professional Identity: 

The addition of more specialized divisional codes boosts players’ professional identities. Competing in a division that appropriately represents their ability level instills a sense of satisfaction and success, validating their professional status as disc golfers.

How the Changes Affect Strategies?

Now, let’s look at how these changes will affect professional players. The new divisional codes serve as a benchmark for top-tier professionals’ ability levels in comparison to their colleagues. The first digit of the code, which indicates skill compared to the highest-rated professions, might be considered a significant achievement. A player with a rating in the 1000 range routinely exhibits remarkable talent and competitiveness at the highest level.

The second and third digits of the code, which measure skill relative to the division and inside the division, have significant strategic consequences. Previously, players may have been satisfied with dominating their category while paying little attention to the general ability level within that division. The new codes, on the other hand, encourage players to be more aware of their standing within their divisions and with respect to other divisions.

For example, a player with a rating of 950 in the MPO division may have previously felt comfortable competing against other players in that division. However, under the new system, they may discover that their skill level is inferior to that of players in higher divisions, such as MPO 1000-rated players. This realization can encourage them to enhance their game even more and strive for a higher rating in order to compete at the highest level.

On the other hand, players who formerly competed at the top of their division may face greater competition inside their own division due to the more refined categorization. This condition may prompt players to reconsider their methods, improve their skills, and adjust to the higher level of competition. It instills a growth mindset in players and always pushes them to improve and strive for excellence.

The new divisional rules have encouraged professional players to reconsider their game plans and approaches. Here’s how these modifications have affected their gameplay:

Improved Focus on Individual Performance

Players must focus on their individual performance to excel as talent differences within divisions diminish. Every throw and choice becomes more important, as even tiny errors can greatly impact the final score. This needs a stronger focus on personal development and consistent performance.

Adaptation to Competitive Environments

Divisional codes have been adjusted, resulting in more competitive fields within each division. Players must modify their methods to adjust to their opponents’ growing skill levels. This may entail fine-tuning shot selection, altering risk-reward calculations, and creating new methodologies to obtain a competitive advantage.

Division-Specific Approaches 

Each category has its own personality, skill requirements, and playing styles. Professional players must modify their methods to the divisions in which they compete. This could entail researching opponents’ strengths and weaknesses, analyzing course layouts, and identifying effective techniques that fit the division’s dynamics.


The PDGA’s adoption of new divisional codes is a significant step forward in the evolution of disc golf. These modifications address the requirement for more exact divisions, increased fairness, and a more professionalized competitive climate. While the changes may necessitate players to adapt their techniques and approaches, they ultimately contribute to the sport’s growth and development. By adopting these improvements, the disc golf community should anticipate more exciting and engaging competitions that appropriately reflect players’ ability levels.

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