Golf Rankings explained

How Do The Golf World Rankings Work?

Golf World Rankings – a little bit of history

The first golf world rankings were calculated and published in 1968, but the system had quite a few flaws, and as professional golf became more popular during the late 70’s and into the 80’s it was decided to over-haul the system.

In 1985 the golf world ranking system as we know it today came into being, and apart from the number of points awarded to each tournament (explained in more detail below), the calculations have remained basically the same.

What is the definition of the #1 golfer in the world?

For anyone who’s played golf for even only a little while, you’ll know that the KEY to being a good golfer is consistency.

The golf world rankings reward consistently good results over a two year period with results of the last 13 weeks having a higher influence on a golfers’ world ranking, and points won between weeks 14 and 105 (two years) having less and less influence.

How are the Golf World Rankings actually calculated?

Each professional golf tournament is allocated a number of world golf ranking points. The number of points is based on a number of things including:-

  • Which golf tour the event is being played under. E.g. USPGA Tour, European Tour, Asian Tour etc.
  • How strong the field is.
    Ironically this is based on the golf world rankings!
  • If the event is very important, world ranking points can be won by players finishing all the way down to 60th place. For less important events it could only be the top 6 players that are awarded world ranking points.
  • The four major golf tournaments (the USPGA, the US Open, the US Masters and The Open) are allocated more world ranking points than any other event due to their importance and strength of the field.

Having allocated world ranking points to an event, the players then of course can win points according to where they finish in the event.

So far so good – now for the complicated bit!

The total number of world ranking points is totaled up for each player over the last two years (actually 105 weeks) on a rolling weekly basis – so the rankings are recalculated every week and published on Mondays after the weekends’ tournaments have completed.

This total number of points is then weighted as follows.

The last 13 weeks are simply added together and not weighted at all – in this respect the golf world rankings are quite clear – they are trying to show who is currently the best golfer in the world.

For weeks 14 to 105 (92 weeks), the points become less and less important and this is where the weighting starts to become a factor.

Without getting too technical, the weighting of points won between week 14 and 105 are reduced by 1/92nd all the way down to 1/92nd for any points won 105 weeks ago.

This total is then divided by 105 to give a weighted number of points won per week over the last two years.

Example of Golf Ranking Calculations

Maybe an example will make it clearer – I certainly hope so!

If you won a tournament last week that was worth 100 points, then that counts as 100 points towards your total won points in the last 105 weeks. So far so good….

If you won a tournament 14 weeks ago worth 100 points, then 91/92 of these 100 points are included – i.e. 98.91.

If you won a tournament 105 weeks ago worth 100 points, only 1/92nd of these points are included – i.e. 1.08 points.

The total points won is then simply divided by 105 and that gives the world ranking points!

Hopefully you can now see why certain long time recognised professional golfers get knocked off the top spot. Not only do they get replaced by players who are playing very consistently, but they themselves start slipping in their results in the more recent weeks and given the weighing of the points, the others soon catch up to them, as the previous results become less and less important in terms of the world rankings.

What must you do to become the best golfer in the world?

  • The better tournaments you play and the higher up the field you finish the better!
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  • You need to score a good number of points consistently (week in week out) to rise up the rankings and stay there.
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  • A single ‘BIG’ win won’t make you the number one golfer in the world if you aren’t consistent in the other events you play.
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  • Tiger Woods’ record of 623 weeks as the number one golfer in the world is simply astonishing. His nearest competitor is Greg Norman with 331 weeks, and even Tom Lehman only managed one week at the top despite a crazy number of big wins in one season – he wasn’t consistent enough to stay there any longer.
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  • Lee Westwood’s rise to the top spot in 2010 is amazing considering he hasn’t won a major golf event yet. His consistency in the majors has been very impressive though and this has been a major factor.

There are some additional complexities to the calculations such as tournaments that are reduced to 54 or 36 holes due to bad weather, but I hope this post gives you a good understanding of how the golf world rankings are calculated and what it takes in terms of results to get to the very top of the game!