Performance Scoring™ is a proprietary handicap scoring system developed by Disc Golf United™. Performance Scoring™ allows players of different skill levels to compete against each other on a more equal basis. The "Performance" of each player refers to how a player's actual score compares to their projected score. Using a unique set of calculations, each player is assigned a projected score based on their current skill level and the difficulty of the course layout being played. Each player only needs focus on beating their individually tailored projected score; their personal par.  Ranking is determined by comparing the performances of all players in descending order from most under to most over.

For example, let's say your projected score is 54:

  • If your actual score is 52, your performance is -2 (two under). A negative (-) number means you shot below your projection.
  • If your actual score is 54, your performance is E (even). Shooting even (E) means your score matched what you were projected to shoot. 
  • If your actual score is 58, your performance is +4 (four over). A positive (+) number means you shot above your projection.

Before the development of the DGU system, there was not a standardized or official method for calculating disc golf handicaps. Although many have tried to adapt various methods from other sports, these have ultimately proved ineffective for the following reasons: 1) There is no standardized par system for disc golf courses. 2) Course par ranges widely from 42 to 72. 3) The listed course par rarely matches the definition of par - namely, "A predetermined number of strokes that a scratch (or 0 handicap) golfer should require to complete each hole/round." In disc golf, two courses with the same listed par can be vastly different in terms of actual difficulty. Performance Scoring™ overcomes these challenges in 3 parts:

Part 1: Course Indexing

Each unique course layout is assigned a number on a universal scale called the "Course Index". This is currently the most rigorously determined and accurate measure of a course's difficulty, and is meant to represent the expected score of a top level disc golfer. Course index values are provided by the Professional Disc Golf Association, and when available, are used as the baseline value in Performance Scoring™ calculations. However, many layouts do not have an offical course index. In these cases, the number of holes, the overall course length, and the challenge factor are used to approximate one. As these variables change, the course index shifts accordingly. The "Challenge Factor" refers to the overall difficulty of a course considering factors other then length, such as: Placement, density, and amount of trees and/or foliage (most important factor to consider), natural and man-made obstacles/hazards, water, amount and placement of out-of-bounds area, changes in elevation, dogleg fairways, etc... Courses with less of these factors rank lower on the scale while courses with more challenge factors rank higher on the scale.

Part 2: Score Indexing

Based on the course index, each round is converted to another universal scale called the "Round Index", which represents the relative skill level of each round. The 5 most recent round indices are averaged to determine the relative skill level of each player on a universal scale known as the "Thrower Index". This flexibility of indexing makes it possible to use data from multiple courses, layouts, scoring formats, and leagues.

Part 3: Projections

A "Projected Score" is calculated by comparing the current thrower index to the course index of the layout to be played. The same thrower index will result in a different projected score for each course/layout. Here's an example to illustate: Joe Golfer is an advanced level player who has 3 local courses. Course A is 4,500 feet and has open straight fairways and no water in play. Course B is 6,000 feet with a mixture of wooded and open fairways and several holes playing near water. Course C is 7,500 feet with heavily wooded, turning fairways and OB in play on nearly every hole. Joe Golfer might have a projected score of 52 on course A, 56 on course B, and 61 on course C.

Since projections are based on the current thrower index, they will change over time as new rounds are logged. As you improve, your projected scores will go down - and vice versa. A projected score is not the same thing as a scoring average; rather, it should reflect a slightly better than average round. To allow players to participate right away, a projected score will be generated after the very first round is logged. However, to ensure fairness to existing players and to prevent an unfair advantage of newer players, the first 4 projections only receive a partial value as follows:

  • Round 1: n/a (no projection due to no prior rounds)
  • Round 2: 50%
  • Round 3: 65%
  • Round 4: 80%
  • Round 5: 90%

Once 5 rounds have been logged, the weighting factor will remain at 90%.

Implementation at the United States Disc Golf Championship:

As far back as 2007, USDGC officials started experimenting with handicapping side action. In 2011, the Performance Edition of the USDGC showcased Performance Scoring to the world. From 2012 forward the USDGC is made up of two distinct flights. Open Flight competitors compete using traditional scoring, while Performance Flight competitors use Performance Scoring, with a campion crowned in both flights.  

In order to facilitate live, hole-by-hole scoring, projections have been broken down into hole-by-hole ‘Personal Pars’ for each player, which depending upon the player's skill level could be higher or lower than the hole’s actual par.

Prior to competition, Performance Flight competitors are assigned a fixed projected score for all 4 rounds of play. This is based on their most recent official PDGA players rating. To promote fairness and accurate projections, Performance Flight competitors must meet the minimum requirements of 1) being an active PDGA member 2) having a player rating comprised of at least 12 rated rounds within the last 12 months and 3) have a player rating of 875 or higher. 


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