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How Golf Rankings are Calculated

Steven D. Thompson


We've seen many golfers rise and fall on the official world golf ranking. Some take the lead for months, while others struggle to hold up for days. You may wonder, what are the factors that make some golfers reign like others don't exist while others battle for survival? The rankings become more confusing when we see golfers stay on top without taking part in a tournament while those who take a part drop in points. If you've been longing to know how all these things work, you're in the right place! Here, we'll be unraveling all the mysteries behind the golf rankings. After this post, you'll know exactly how the world golf rankings work and what it takes to hold the world number one as long as Tiger Woods did!

Let's get it rolling!

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Table of Contents

    History Of Golf Ranking

    The Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) today is a product of several tweaks of the McCormack ranking system adopted in 1986. The goal was to create a system to categorise golfers and qualify criteria for the open championship properly.

    This system was first known as Sony Rankings until 1997, when it received wider acceptance and became the official world golf ranking. Over the years, having a high ranking has been the basis for the invitation of golfers to any major championship.

    At first, the ranking points were calculated over three years with an emphasis on points gained in the present year above other years. Things have since changed, but the initial concept remains in force.

    While the OWGR seems to take the stage, it is not the only ranking system used in professional golf. However, the OWGR is the widely accepted standard. Other systems include:

    • The money list: ranks golfers based on the amount of money they've earned. While this may not be the best indicator, it works well for comparison between major golfers.
    • The FedEx Cup: golfers enter the competition using FedEx points earned in tournaments throughout the year. The winner of the cup is crowned as the best golfer for the year.

    The Official World Golf Ranking remains one of the best systems to rank golfers. Let's check through how the ranking works.

    How Does The Official World Golf Ranking Work? How Does The Official World Golf Ranking Work?

    How Does The Official World Golf Ranking Work?

    Players competing in eligible events are awarded points based on their performances. A player's total points over a two-year rolling period then determine their position on the OWGR. This is a simple way to understand the ranking system.

    There are several other complexities to the ranking, though. For instance, winners at different eligible events don't get equal points. The points they earn on the class and prestige of the tournament they partake. 

    Let's look at how it works: winners of the four major tournaments - the Masters' Tournament, PGA Championship, US Open, and British Open - get 100 points while the runner-up and third place receive 60 and 40 points, respectively. 

    On the other hand, winners at the regular PGA Tour or European Tour receive only 24 points. Only flagship tournaments like The Players and the BMW PGA Championship earn winners 80 and 64 points respectively. What's the cause of these points' variation? Let's find out.

    Strength of Field Metric

    The strength of field is what determines the available points for distribution in an event. When a golfer is invited to an event, he contributes to the field's strength based on his world and total home tour ratings. The cumulative of these ratings for all the golfers on the field gives the strength of the field.

    The world rating only considers the first 200 players in the OWGR. If the world No. 1 would be participating in the event, his presence contributes 45 points; world No. 2 brings in 37 points while players between 101-200 on the OWGR are allotted only 1 point each. 

    The home rating considers the top-30 golfers in the previous year of that particular event. They are also allocated various points based on their rank in the previous event. The cumulative of world and home rating is what determines the available points in an event. Obviously, an event with a top player competing will garner more points than other regular tours.

    You should note, though, that by August 2022, the strength of field metric calculation will be replaced with a different method. We'll discuss more on this later. 

    How Are The World Ranking Points Calculated?

    Now that you understand how the available points are calculated let's show you how the ranking points are derived. Like you may already know, the world rankings are updated every week but what you see every week is a product of a weighted system from a rolling two-year period.

    Simply put, a player's average points are a cumulative of all the points acquired in the past two years (or 104 weeks) divided by the number of events he participated in. This is the general outlook of the calculation.

    To make the ranking more descriptive of players' recent performances, the ranking system places emphasis on a player's recent points. Therefore points gathered in the past 13 weeks retain their full value while the points from the other 91 weeks gradually diminish in equal increments.

    This way, golfers only remain on top by being consistent in their participation and performance. However, some players remain on top without participating, while others that play lose points. This is due to the divisor factor in the points calculation.

    Divisor Factor in World Golf Ranking

    The ranking of a golfer is not just about the number of events he's played in but his ability to always put up a good performance. This would mean that a player with better performance at fewer events would rank higher due to the smaller divisor. 

    If this were not checked, it would mean golfers could intentionally miss events to keep their divisors low. To keep the divisor factor in check, players must attend a minimum number of 40 events and a maximum of 52. This is the accepted divisor range at the OWGR.

    History Of Golf Ranking History Of Golf Ranking

    Pros and Cons Of The Official World Golf Ranking

    Is the official world golf ranking as good as it seems? Quickly, we'll be going through some advantages and disadvantages of this ranking system:



    • Places emphasis on a player's latest performance
    • Rolling two-year period makes the ranking comprehensive
    • Constant modifications make it reflect present-day realities


    • Understanding the calculation seems like a daunting task for many
    • It may be a lagging indicator of a player's current form
    • The two-year ranking period may be unfavourable for emerging players

    Recognised Events in The OWGR

    Only specified leading tournaments count toward the world ranking points. Asides from prestigious tournaments like the four major championships, here are some of the eligible tour events:

    • PGA Tour
    • European Tour
    • Asian Tour 
    • PGA Tour of Australasia
    • Japan Golf Tour

    Points awarded in major tour championships like the PGA Tour of Australasia and Japan Golf Tour won't be equal. The same goes for the Asian Tour, Sunshine Tour, and other events. This is because of the difference in the field strength of each tour.

    By the way, points are awarded only at individual events. Therefore, a Ryder Cup team participating in such team events won't get individual OWGR points for participation.

    Latest Modifications in The Official World Golf Rankings Latest Modifications in The Official World Golf Rankings

    Latest Modifications in The Official World Golf Rankings

    The current method of calculating the official rankings will continue to be in use until August 2022, when slight modifications will be introduced. Remember we indicated earlier that there would be changes in the strength of field calculation? This is where the main modification is. 

    Currently, the field strength is calculated using the world rating and home tour rating. By August 2022, this method will become obsolete. The field strength will now be calculated using a new system known as the Stroke Gained world rating (SWGR).

    The Strokes Gained World Rating is determined by a player's scores in a stroke-play event. Depending on the difficulty level of each hole, players will be assigned points based on their scores on the holes. Each player's cumulative point then determines what they'll bring into an event.

    Therefore, the total field strength will be determined by the total points of each golfer on the field. This new system is more inclusive than the previous world and home rating. Here, every player on the field contributes to the field's strength as opposed to the restriction of only the top 200 in the previous system.


    Check the rankings

    Taking a closer look into the rankings, you can easily know the players to put your eyes on.


    Check the tournaments

    Golf ranking indicates the players that will be invited for the next world golf championships and other major events.


    Compare ranking points

    More ranking points could indicate an increase in the performance of your favourites.


    Place your bets

    Place your bets on the golfers with increasing rankings in the best tournaments using the best bookmakers.

    Final Words

    Golf rankings have proven to be a good way to distinguish the best of the best golfers in professional golf. With the continuous improvement in how the stats are calculated, we're sure that we can trust what the ranking tells.

    Though you shouldn't take the ranking hook line and sinker, while you're longing to use the info to place bets, don't forget to do proper research, considering other factors that could affect a golfer's performance. Also, make sure the betting platform you prefer to use provides the best betting odds and have a good number of incentives such as betting cashback offers and welcome bonuses.

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