The USGA and R&A announced last week that the calculating methodology behind the World Amateur Golf Ranking will change in January. The new system will be called the Power Method. Each amateur event (as well as open events or tour events where some amateurs are in the field) will have a ranking, 1 to 1,000, based on strength of field. Players will receive points based on their finishes. Under the old methodology, points were calculated after each round, much like a handicap system.
Without getting too wrapped up in the algorithms, this new methodology will take a more holistic view of performance.
“Under the old system the points that people earned didn’t necessarily reflect the order they finished in a competition,” said Ross Galarneault, the director of championship scoring for the USGA. “That left some people scratching their heads. Normally, the top of the order worked itself out because there were bonus points awarded to the people at the top of the events. But further down, there were questions.
“This (Power Method) throws all those concepts out and awards points in the order you finished, not how any given round was played. We’re going to throw away the categories and take a more granular approach to ranking events. If players play in open competitions or are invited to play in tour events, those are given a higher power. So the points will be more reflective of the strength of the field and the order you finish.”
The other key change in the WAGR calculation is the aging process. The old system counted events on a 104-week rotating basis but the points a player received for a finish 103 weeks ago carried the same weight as the ones he or she received last week.
“As events fell off your record, either good performances and poor performances, you’d see big jumps in rankings,” Galarneault said. “By aging things out slowly over that second year (as the new system does), when an event falls off a person’s record, it’s a blip, not a precipitous drop. This is similar to other evaluations where you want to give more emphasis to the stuff that’s more current.”
Steve Otto, director of equipment standards and chief technology officer for the R&A said, “The simplicity and elegance of the revised WAGR system will be of great benefit to competitive players at every level. It will be easier for players to become ranked under the Power Method but with the system recognizing current form and rewarding recent top results it will be tougher to remain ranked compared to the previous system.
“The Power Method will make WAGR a true indication of the ranking of the world’s best and leading amateur golfers.”
That is what college coaches are telling their players about the change: It will be easier to get ranked, and harder to stay ranked.
Galarneault believes it’s the right change at the right time.
“We think that the quiet period for most golfers happens this time of year,” he said. “The season in the Northern Hemisphere has pretty much wound down and they’re just getting going in the Southern Hemisphere. We had completed all our work and due diligence but this has been a long time coming.
“And the feedback has been, if not 100 percent positive, it has been vastly positive. Most people who understand WAGR see these changes and believe that a lot of them if not all of them make sense.
“There (will likely be) a little jostling in the top 10 – you will see some people who have taken a pause in their play or are having an uptick or downtick in their play see some movement – but other than that, everyone (at the top of the WAGR in the new system) remains pretty much in line (with the old one).”