March 2020 Update
Here is my analysis of the Great British & Irish (GB&I) men’s amateur golf rankings as at 31st March 2020 (Quarter 1 – 2020).
I focus my attention on the two leading amateur rankings, the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking (SPWAR) and the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR). I favour the SPWAR over the WAGR as I believe it has a better overall methodology. For more information on the two rankings please see Appendix 2 below.
Whilst few events have been played in GB&I this year due to the coronavirus pandemic there were a number completed in Australia, South Africa, Europe and United States before the mid-March curtailment.
I compare each player’s quarter end ranking with their position at the start of the year to help establish their performance trends. The Quarter 1 3 month analysis obviously incorporates the shortest review period albeit this year is made a little more interesting by the ‘Power Method’ changes made to WAGR in early January.
If the movement shown in one of the tables below is negative a player is moving up the ranking and if they are positive they have fallen during the period.
The table below shows the Top 30 GB&I players in the SPWAR as well as their ranking movement in the year to date.
Ranked 9th in the world at the end of March Ben JONES (ENG) has retained his place as the leading GB&I amateur golfer in the SPWAR. Ben consolidated his position with a strong tour of Australia and a top 5 finish in a subsequent MENA Tour event.
The ‘SPWAR Movement’ column highlights Haider HUSSAIN (ENG), Harry GODDARD (ENG), Tom MCKIBBIN (IRL), Rowan LESTER (IRL), Olly HUGGINS (ENG), Charlie STRICKLAND (ENG), Joe LONG (ENG), Sam BAIRSTOW (ENG), Ben SCHMIDT (ENG) and Tom THURLOWAY (ENG) as the ten biggest climbers in the top 30 so far in 2020.
The table below shows the Top 30 GB&I players in the WAGR as well as their ranking movement in the year to date.
WAGR released their new ‘Power Method’ ranking on 13th January 2020. For more information on the changes introduced please see the Recent Rankings News section of this article below. Appendix 4 also provides an analysis of the impact on the leading GB&I player rankings at the time of the change.
Sandy SCOTT (SCO) ranked 10th moved to the top of the GB&I WAGR as soon as the ‘Power Method’ approach was adopted.
Max MARTIN (ENG), Keith EGAN (IRL), Arron EDWARDS-HILL (ENG), Tom MCKIBBIN (IRL), Angus FLANAGAN (ENG) and Sam BROADHURST (ENG) have been the biggest climbers in the top 30 so far in 2020.
The Quarter end WAGR includes Oliver FARRELL (ENG) in 117th place. I have excluded him from my analysis as I believe he turned pro ahead of successfully competing in a PGA Tour Canada Q-School event in early March.
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 (now much closer), events included, field assessments, points allocation and ageing and treatment of team events.
Players are shown in this table 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.
Caolan RAFFERTY (IRE) is our ‘Combined No.1’ based on his average ranking across both the SPWAR and WAGR.
In December 2019 21 players who were in the SPWAR Top 30 were also in the WAGR equivalent. In March 2020 the number had risen to 24.
There are clearly some material differences between the two rankings. Conor GOUGH (ENG), James WILSON (SCO), Olly HUGGINS (ENG), Joe PAGDIN (ENG), Max MARTIN (ENG), Arron EDWARDS-HILL (ENG), Joe LONG (ENG), Callum FARR (ENG) and Connor MCKINNEY (SCO) all have 100+ point differentials amongst our leading players.
There are currently no Welsh players in the the top 30 of either GB&I ranking. Archie DAVIES (261st) is 32nd and Ben CHAMBERLAIN (316th) 37th in the WAGR.
Kieran CANTLEY (SCO), David HAGUE (ENG), Euan MCINTOSH (SCO) and Jeff WRIGHT (SCO) were amongst the players to turn professional in Quarter 1 2020.
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
Ben SCHMIDT (ENG) is my Player Of The Quarter after a string of impressive performances in Australia, Spain and United States:-
Junior Invitational at Sage Valley – tied 12th
Spanish International Amateur – SPQ tied 8th / Round of 32
Avondale Amateur – 2nd
New South Wales Amateur – Medal tied 10th / SP CHAMPION
Ben Schmidt – 2020 New South Wales Amateur Champion (Photo: GolfNSW)
Ben narrowly beat Joe LONG (ENG) who has also enjoyed a strong start to the year: –
South American Amateur Championship – tied 8th
African Amateur Championship – tied 4th
South African Stroke Play Championship – tied 7th
South African Amateur Championship – SPQ tied 2nd / MP semi-finals
Cape Province Open Amateur – 12th
Recent Rankings News
WAGR released their new ‘Power Method’ ranking on 13th January 2020. The new system works 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 whilst Professional events will have a maximum of 3,000 points.
(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.
(5) Divisors are being retained by WAGR and 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.
Click here to read the full WAGR press release – New WAGR Method From 2020
Click here to read the – WAGR Power Method FAQ
The WAGR’s ‘Power Method’ announcement is welcome but in affect an admission that the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking has been superior in the past. I say this because most of the proposed changes essentially move the WAGR closer to the existing SPWAR methodology.
At face value the SPWAR still looks as if it will be the more accurate ranking. Here are the four main reasons why: –
(a) Only applying ageing reductions to points after 12 months is insufficient. A more frequent approach is required, say quarterly as a minimum;
(b) WAGR are still proposing that ‘soft’ Participation Points without a divisor be applied to all players who contest team events, irrespective of the contributions they make; and
(c) WAGR need to include more events and in particular 36 hole competitions, such as Final Qualifying for The Open, like the SPWAR does.
(d) Whilst the WAGR’s Divisors ensure that all event performances are noted, providing a useful overall record, they do bring another layer of complexity when compared with the SPWAR. Worse still they have in the past led to players protecting their ranking by simply not playing.
Amateur Tournament Rankings
The SPWAR produces an annual Amateur Tournament Ranking which whilst interesting in itself 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 2019 The Amateur Championship (2nd), World Amateur Team (5th – albeit not played this year), European Amateur (6th), St. Andrews Links Trophy (7th), European Amateur Team (12th), Lytham Trophy (17th), Brabazon Trophy (20th) and English Amateur (26th) all featured in the Top 30 worldwide list of amateur competitions.
The European Amateur rose from 8th to 6th highlighting how this event is becoming stronger and gaining increased prestige.
The current strength in depth of English golf helped both the Brabazon Trophy and the English Amateur rise in the 2019 ranking. The Brabazon recovered from a lower than normal 41st ranking in 2018 as did the English Amateur moving from 48th into the top 30.
The Scottish Open Amateur also rose from 64th to 51st in 2019. Scottish Golf are returning this event to late May in 2020 after the misguided decision to move it in 2018 to late August where it had become a little irrelevant. Scheduling it adjacent to the St Andrews Links Trophy should ensure a further jump next year.
The Irish Amateur Open fell from 23rd to 49th as it suffered from its move from Royal County Down to the more remote County Sligo.
Click here to view the 2019 – SPWAR Amateur Tournament Ranking
This ranking is now being updated three times per annum; once after the NCAA Division I National Championship, then after the U.S. Amateur Championship and finally at the end of the year. These plans made change now that golf is ‘on stop’.
The WAGR‘s ‘Power Method’ has provided greater clarity to their event ranking. Specific ‘power numbers’ have replaced the broad letter categories of the old methodology.
I have used these ‘power numbers’ to create YTD 2020 WAGR event rankings – see below. I have largely restricted my analysis to events that featured GB&I players.
Appendix 1 – Previous Golf Bible Player Of The Quarter Results
March 2020 – Ben SCHMIDT (ENG)
December 2019 – No award made due to the limited number of events played.
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.
Appendix 4 – The Impact Of The WAGR Power Ranking Changes
WAGR released their new Power Method ranking on 13th January 2020 and covered the playing period ending on 5th January (Week 1 2020).
The initial changes to the rankings of the top 60 GB&I players given the new methodology now being used by WAGR are tabulated below: –
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