How the Official World Golf Ranking System Works

The colour of shirt a player wears on Sunday makes absolutely no difference to their World Golf Ranking
The colour of shirt a player wears on Sunday makes absolutely no difference to their World Golf Ranking

By Brian O’Hare

THE Official World Golf Ranking system can appear a little complex and confusing at times and that’s mainly because, basically, it is.

At the time of writing this article we had the situation a couple of weeks back where we were told by the experts that the current World No.2 Adam Scott could take the No.1 spot from Tiger Woods at the World Golf Championships – Cadillac Championship if he won that event and Woods finished no better than about sixth or seventh.

Then again last week Scott again maybe had the chance to get to number one but that was cruelled when both Woods and World No.4 Jason Day withdrew from the 2014 Arnold Palmer Invitational beforehand. That was apparently because with those two high ranking golfers out  the event no longer carried enough points for Scott to make up enough ground and overtake Woods.

Then they worked out after the event started that if Scott won and then neither he nor Woods played for another two weeks, Scott would attain the coveted No.1 spot the week before the Masters.

That got me hankering to look up exactly how the mathematical formula behind the World Golf Ranking system works. I discovered there is less mathematics involved than you need, say, to explore the origins of the universe, but probably much more maths happening than would actually allow me to do the figurin’ personally.

World Golf Ranking System

The system is a tad complicated as points are awarded not only based on a player’s finishing position but also the strength of the field and the quality and location of the event. The points awarded also deteriorate over time with the “fresher” performances counting more.

Firstly, the points are awarded to players taking part in official events from the leading professional tours from around the world, with different tours attracting differing points. Premium points are awarded at the four golf Majors with WGC events on a second rung.

Eligible Tours

Eligible Tours include: US PGA TOUR, PGA European Tour, Japan Golf Tour, PGA Tour of Australasia, Sunshine Tour, Asian Tour,, European Challenge Tour, PGA Tour Canada, PGA Tour China, PGA Tour LatinoAmerica, OneAsia, Korean Golf Tour and Asian Development Tour.

World Ranking Points

The World Ranking Points for each player are accumulated over a two year “rolling” period with the points awarded for each event maintained for a 13-week period to place additional emphasis on recent performances.

Ranking points are then reduced in equal decrements for the remaining 91 weeks of the two year Ranking period. Each player is then ranked according to his average points per tournament, which is determined by dividing his total number of points by the tournaments he has played over that two-year period.

There is a minimum divisor of 40 tournaments over the two year ranking period and a maximum divisor of a player’s last 52 events. (See, I said it was simple.)

Strength of Field

The Strength of Field for each tour’s event is determined by using the World Rating and Home Tour Rating.

The World Rating is based on the number of Top-200 World Ranked players competing in the event and a value is allocated to the position within the Top 200.

The Home Tour Rating is based on the number of Top-30 Ranked players using each tour’s end of year final ranking with a value allocated to the position within the Top 30 Ranked players.

The World and Home Rating values are added together to produce the Strength of Field rating. The number of points allocated to an event is then determined by the Rating Points Structure and which band the total Strength of Field rating falls into.


I think we can now see why the “experts” take all the factors into consideration and then say things like “Adam Scott will be world No.1 if he wins and Woods finishes no better than about sixth.” We can also clearly see that the colour of shirt a golfer wears on Sunday makes absolutely no difference to their World Golf Ranking.

Perhaps the best thing you can do is just watch the tournament and then wait till Monday (that would probably be Tuesday if it is an American event, and I’m not sure which day if the event is in Latvia ….. actually, I think they just update the rankings on Australian Tuesdays) and have a look at the new World Golf Ranking widget that we’ve installed over in the right hand column [and below this article]. (At the time of writing, we have Australians at 2 and 4 – yay!).

[box type=”info”]Points awarded for the four Golf Majors: Players receive the most points for winning a major tournament. The victors of the US Masters, the US PGA Championship, the U.S. Open and the British Open receive 100 points apiece, with runners-up scoring 60 and third-place finishers earning 40. Everyone who makes the cut and completes four rounds of a major receives at least 1.5 points.[/box]

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