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PDGA Tournament Tiers

By Nicholas Wilson | 07/06/2022
PDGA Tournament Tiers

PDGA events come in all shapes and sizes. There are tournaments for every type of player, and one of the most enjoyable parts of your competitive season is planning out your tournament schedule. Every player is unique in what they are looking for in a tournament, but how to understand and maneuver the tournament tier system? This article breaks down the tier system and details what to expect at various levels of tournaments. Then it is up to the Tournament Director (TD) and event staff to infuse each tournament with their own personal touch. Beyond this article, I highly recommend researching tournaments that go the extra mile for player enjoyment, whether it is on the course or bonus events off the course.

Much of this information was gathered from the PDGA website from an entry entitled PDGA Tour Event Levels And Tiers.

PDGA Major

Majors are comprised of touring professionals competing for the biggest cash prizes. These are the PDGA’s most prestigious events, making it extremely difficult for local players to qualify. These are events to experience as a fan of the sport. “PDGA Major events include World Championships, National Championships, and the PDGA Champions Cup, with the competitors based on invitations and qualification. Qualification to World Championships and Majors are awarded according to previous year Tour Points and other qualifying criteria.”

Requirements

● Current PDGA membership is required to compete
● Current status of Certified Rules Official required through the dates of the event to register and compete
● Length, purse, number of holes, and many other elements of these prestigious events are handled on a case-by-case basis
● Minimum payout of 125% of Net Entry Fees

Disc Golf Pro Tour (DGPT Elite Series)

During the off-season before the 2022 season, the PDGA and DGPT struck a historic deal. The DGPT replaced the National Tour (in operation since 2003) as the official Elite Series tour of the PDGA. These tournaments are highly sought after, and touring professionals make up the bulk of the entries. Again, these are fantastic events to experience as a spectator.

Jeff Spring, the current CEO of the DGPT, had this to say about the merger; “From the beginning, we have aimed to provide the highest level of professional disc golf to our players and fans…We have been in discussions with the PDGA for more than four years to ensure that this deal creates the best possible outcomes for the DGPT as well
as the PDGA and its members.”

Requirements

● Current PDGA membership is required to compete
● Current status of Certified Rules Official required through the dates of the event to register and compete
● Length: 2-4 days
● Holes: minimum of 54
● Cash Added to Pro Purse: minimum of $10,000 (across both divisions)

A-Tier

A-Tier events are historic events for regional players. These are events that have been held for years and have a proven track record for enjoyment and high competition levels for players. Most of the entries for these tournaments will be local and regional players. However, there will undoubtedly be a smattering of touring professionals in the field as well. Be sure to take note of the registration date and time as, in the modern game, these tournaments tend to fill up quickly.

There is also a limit to how many A-Tiers can be held within certain geographical parameters. “Note that in order to even be considered for A-Tier status, an event must have been run for at least several years as a successful B-Tier event that both met all Tour Standards and was also absent of player complaints. In addition, the Tournament Director must have an established track record of running quality events at the B-Tier level or above.

Because of their greater mileage restrictions, only a limited number of events can be A-Tiers. Therefore, not all requests for A-Tier status will be approved. Once the A-Tier schedule has been set, it is released on pdga.com (typically on or about November 1st) so that PDGA State, Province, or Country Coordinators can begin approving TD’s date
requests for B-Tier and C-Tier events. At that time, the online event sanctioning form for the following year is also made available.”

Requirements

● Current PDGA membership is required to compete
● Length: 2-3 days
● Holes: minimum of 54
● 100% payout of Net Entry Fees plus min. of $3000 Cash Added to Pro Purse (across all Pro divs)
● 110% payout of Net Entry Fees to Amateur purse (prizes + player packs)

B-Tier

B-Tiers are personally my favorite events. These events have added cash and are primarily comprised of local and regional players. There is a certain amount of prestige, but it generally lacks the participation of touring professionals. This gives these events a truly local flare. “B-Tier events are considered state-level, often taking place over an entire weekend with the Tournament Director(s) providing a minimum of 100% payout to the professional and amateur divisions alike.”

Requirements

● Current PDGA membership is required to compete.
● Length: 1-3 days
● Holes: minimum of 36
● 100% payout of Net Entry Fees plus a minimum of $750 Cash Added to Pro Purse (across all Pro divs)
● 100% payout of Net Entry Fees to Amateur purse (prizes + player packs)

C-Tier

These events are held on the local level and generally have large Amateur fields. These are great tournaments for beginners and players looking to experience their first tournament-level disc golf. Most often, these tournaments take place over the course of one day. “These are local events that can easily be run in one day, on one course, with a minimal amount of staff and volunteers, but they certainly do not have to be small and/or simple. There are many large C-Tier events around the world each year that bring in hundreds of players and provide huge payouts for both the professional and amateur divisions.”

Requirements

● Current PDGA membership NOT required to compete. Non-current members or non-members pay a $10 per-event fee when registering (except in Junior divisions)
● Length: 1-2 days
● Holes: minimum of 18 (36 preferred)
● Cash Added to Pro Purse: optional
● Minimum of 85% of Net Entry Fees to both Pro and Amateur payout

Bringing It All Together

While tournaments may be classified under the same tier due to their requirements, all tournaments have a unique feel. This is based on many factors, but tournament staff and the course(s) being played play a massive role in determining the overall vibe of an event. Now that you understand the requirements for each tier, do some research and find tournaments that fit your needs. The PDGA hit a massive milestone in 2021 by sanctioning over 5,000 events. The 2022 season figures to eclipse this number, so get out there and enjoy all that competitive disc golf has to offer!

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