November 2019 – WAGR Update
On 20th November 2019 WAGR announced that they would be introducing a new methodology, called the ‘Power Method’, from January 2020.
The new WAGR system will work by: –
(1) assigning a ‘power number’ to each event based on the strength of its starting field.
(2) ranking points will then be allocated to each event based on its ‘power number’. Amateur events will have a maximum of 1,000 points available to them.
(3) ranking points will then be shared amongst the players based on their overall finishing positions rather than on the previous round-based approach.
(4) event ageing will then be applied over time. Points from events within the most recent 52 weeks of a player’s record will count in full. Thereafter they will reduce proportionately, by around two percent, per week before expiring after 104 weeks.
Unfortunately it seems that Divisors are being retained by WAGR. I am not sure they are necessary. Under the ‘Power Method’ divisors will become event based rather than round-based. They will also be aged after 52 weeks with a new minimum men’s divisor of eight, irrespective of whether the players are newly ranked or well established.
No doubt further detail will come out in due course.
The WAGR’s ‘Power Method’ announcement is welcome but in affect an admission that the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking has been superior. All of the proposed changes essentially move the WAGR closer to the existing SPWAR methodology.
The proposed ageing appears a bit lazy. 12 months is a long time in golf and I would have preferred to see ranking points phased out more frequently over the whole two year period.
I will also be interested to learn how team events will be treated and whether 36 hole competitions, such as Final Qualifying for The Open, will now be included. These are additional weaknesses in the current WAGR that need to be addressed.
To read the full WAGR press release click here – New WAGR Method From 2020
Here is my analysis of the Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) men’s amateur golf rankings as at 30th September 2019 (Quarter 3 – 2019).
I focus my attention on the two leading amateur rankings, the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking (SPWAR) and the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR). More information on these two lists can be found in the Appendix below.
I compare each player’s quarter end ranking with their position at the start of the year to help establish their performance trends.
Quarter 3 always sees a lot of change. With the main GB&I playing season coming to a close many of our leading players take the decision to turn professional.
If the movements shown below are negative a player is moving up the ranking and if it is positive they have fallen during the period under review.
The table below shows the Top 30 GB&I players in the SPWAR as well as their ranking movement in the year to date.
I believe the SPWAR has a much better methodology than the WAGR and therefore it is my preferred ranking. For more information on the differences between the two rankings please read my article on this in Appendix 2 below.
Ranked 12th in the world Caolan RAFFERTY (IRE) is the leading GB&I amateur golfer in the SPWAR at the end of September. Caolan has enjoyed a very good season culminating in his selection for the Walker Cup match at Hoylake. He has more recently played well in the Men’s Home Internationals and picked up a win at the Dundalk Scratch Cup, played at his home club.
The ‘SPWAR Movement’ column above highlights Ben SCHMIDT (ENG), Sam BROADHURST (ENG), Callum FARR (ENG), Angus FLANAGAN (ENG), Matty LAMB (ENG) and Bradley BAWDEN (ENG) as the biggest climbers in 2019.
John MURPHY (IRE) and David HAGUE (ENG) are the only players in the top 30 not to have improved their SPWAR in 2019. Hague had early season health issues which prevented him from playing whilst Murphy, who is studying at Louisville University, enjoyed a superb win at the Bearcat Invitation on 1st October so will soon be moving back in the right direction.
The table below shows the Top 30 GB&I players in the WAGR as well as their ranking movement in the year to date.
Conor GOUGH (ENG) is the highest ranked player in the WAGR in 3rd place. Conor won the English Amateur Championship and the Duke of York Junior Champions event over the summer and was also selected for the GB&I Walker Cup team.
Ben SCHMIDT (ENG) has now risen 4,664 places since the start of the year to 7th spot. This is due to some excellent play, primarily his Brabazon Trophy and Carris Trophy wins, but also a poor quality opening WAGR which didn’t properly assess his good play, including a further three victories, in 2018.
The two main weaknesses of the WAGR are its lack of any points amortisation over its two year review period and the use of a divisor (for rounds played) which negatively impacts more active players. Gough and Schmidt have divisors of 52 and 33 respectively. In my opinion players need to have a minimum divisor of 75 before their ranking can be taken seriously.
Alex GLEESON (IRE) chose to go travelling in 2019 and as such hasn’t played in any events since February 2019. The fact he has improved his WAGR by 36 places and is now ranked 66th in the world tells you all you need to know about how inaccurate this ranking is. In the SPWAR Alex has fallen from 145th to 628th which seems more appropriate to me given his recent inactivity.
The table below considers the difference between each player’s WAGR and SPWAR ranking.
There are a number of factors at play here, such as each ranking’s core methodology (scores v. finishing positions), events included, field assessments, points allocation and ageing and treatment of team events.
Players are shown in order of their average ranking across both lists.
A positive figure shows that the SPWAR is ranking the player more highly while a negative figure indicates that the WAGR has appreciated their play more.
Conor PURCELL (IRE) just edges out Caolan RAFFERTY (IRE) on the average ranking list taking into account the views of both the SPWAR and WAGR.
Just seven players in the SPWAR Top 10 and thirteen in its Top 20 make the WAGR equivalents.
There are clearly some material differences between the two rankings. Arron EDWARDS-HILL (ENG), Conor GOUGH (ENG), Robin WILLIAMS (ENG), Charlie STRICKLAND (ENG) and Daniel O’LOUGHLIN (ENG) being the most significant amongst our leading players.
After a recent absence it is good to see a Welsh player move into one of Top 30 GB&I lists. Archie DAVIES is 160th in the WAGR (22nd in GB&I). Now to crack the top 30 in the SPWAR !
At the end of the day it’s up to you to take an objective look at both the SPWAR and WAGR Top 30’s and decide which you think is the most representative of our amateur golfers.
Jake BURNAGE (ENG), Bailey GILL (ENG), Harry HALL (ENG), Ben HUTCHINSON (ENG), David LANGLEY (ENG), Ryan LUMSDEN (SCO), Billy MCKENZIE (ENG), Josh MCMAHON (ENG), Tom SLOMAN (ENG) and Euan WALKER (SCO) have all turned professional in recent weeks.
Gill, Hutchinson and McMahon were still in the WAGR at the end of September but I have excluded them from the above analysis.
Please take a look at the Turned Pro section of this website to view my rolling record of notable departures.
My Player Of The Quarter
I have selected Sandy SCOTT (SCO) as my Player of the Quarter.
I also considered Jake BOLTON (ENG) Conor GOUGH (ENG), Joe PAGDIN (ENG) and Ben SCHMIDT (ENG) but Sandy’s main Quarter 3 performances, shown below, swayed it his way: –
Walker Cup – W2 L1 H1; Singles wins against Andy Ogletree and Brandon Wu
Carmel Cup – Champion (-14 at Pebble Beach Links in a strong collegiate field)
U.S. Amateur – SP T28 (+3) / MP Rd of 64
European Amateur Team – SP T7 / MP W4 L2 H0 (3rd best overall GB&I contribution)
Sandy Scott (Photo: The R&A / The Walker Cup / Getty Images)
Recent Rankings News
On 20th March 2019 WAGR representatives Ian Scott and John Brown announced at The Yorkshire Union of Golf Clubs Annual Meeting that major changes would be made to their ranking from 1st January 2020. They advised the audience that a formal announcement outlining the changes would be made in May 2019 once the details had been agreed by The R&A and USGA. The announcement is still awaited which suggests an agreement hasn’t been reached or further changes are now being considered.
On 3rd January 2019 the WAGR announced some minor amendments to their ranking methodology. For more information click here – WAGR Notice Regarding 2019 Amendments
From 1st September 2018 the SPWAR started to input U.S. College NCAA Division I results immediately. It had previously updated periodically utilising the detailed GolfStat college player rankings, an approach which continues for Divisions II and III.
On 21st June 2018 the WAGR updated its website introducing a number of new features.
Amateur Tournament Ranking
The SPWAR also includes an annual Amateur Tournament Ranking which whilst interesting in itself also shows how Mr. Solomon assesses the leading events – a function of field quality (based on players in the SPWAR’s Top 1,000 at the start of play), field size and event length.
In 2018 The Amateur Championship (2nd), World Amateur Team (5th), St. Andrews Links Trophy (7th), European Amateur (8th), European Amateur Team (14th) and Lytham Trophy (18th) all featured in the Top 20 worldwide list of amateur competitions.
The Brabazon Trophy fell from 16th to 41st and the Scottish Open Amateur fell from tied 22nd to 64th this year in terms of the quality of their fields. The Irish Amateur Open rose from 35th to 23rd in 2018. I expect these movements to reverse in 2019.
The European Amateur field in Austria was particularly strong this year and I expect this Championship to rise into the top 5 for 2019 (when there is no World Amateur Team competition).
Click here to view the 2018 – SPWAR Amateur Tournament Ranking
The 2019 update will be completed in early January 2020.
I have included three Appendices below – one showing my previous Player’s Of The Quarter, another providing some more information on the two main Rankings and finally one showing historic Quarterly Ranking spreadsheets dating back to December 2015.
Appendix 1 – Previous Golf Bible Player Of The Quarter Results
September 2019 – Sandy SCOTT (SCO)
June 2019 – Euan WALKER (SCO)
March 2019 – Conor PURCELL (IRE)
December 2018 – Jake BURNAGE (ENG)
September 2018 – Conor GOUGH (ENG)
June 2018 – Mitch WAITE (ENG)
March 2018 – Billy MCKENZIE (ENG)
December 2017 – Ben JONES (ENG)
September 2017 – Todd CLEMENTS (ENG)
June 2017 – Matthew JORDAN (ENG)
March 2017 – Jack DAVIDSON (WAL)
December 2016 – No award made due to the limited number of events played.
September 2016 – David BOOTE (WAL)
June 2016 – Scott GREGORY (ENG)
March 2016 – Jack HUME (IRE)
Appendix 2 – Ranking Notes
To view the two main amateur rankings referred to above please click the links below: –
Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking (SPWAR) – apply GB&I filter in the top right hand corner
World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) – No GB&I filter is available so each home nation needs to be viewed individually
There is no question in my mind that the SPWAR is the most accurate amateur golf ranking. I discussed the reasons for this in an article I originally wrote in February 2016 (and have subsequently updated a few times since) – ‘Why The SPWAR Is Better Than The WAGR’.
However, the WAGR is undoubtedly the most important ranking because of the credibility given to it by both The R&A and the USGA and because it is used by many events, particularly outside of the USA, to assist with entry eligibility.
As I am not a player and am not running a tournament, but am solely interested in assessing who are GB&I’s best amateur golfers, my personal preference is for the SPWAR.
Appendix 3 – Historic Amateur Rankings
My COMBINED list, shown below, provides an aggregation of the two leading amateur rankings and of course gives me something to do at each quarter end.
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