PDGA Retroactively Names Pierce Co-Player of the Year with Allen

Decision comes following a review; "glitch in the formula"

Paige Pierce at the 2021 Waco Annual Charity Open. Photo: DGPT.

One month after the Professional Disc Golf Association named Catrina Allen and Chris Dickerson the 2020 PDGA Players of the Year, the sport’s governing body announced that Paige Pierce was being added as female co-Player of the Year following a review of the award process.

Due to COVID-19 tour disruptions, the award criteria for 2020 were retroactively changed in November. The PDGA previously heavily weighted National Tour events in the POTY system, and Disc Golf Pro Tour events were treated the same as other A-tiers. In November, the PDGA made DGPT events count as Elite Series events on par with the NTs, which meant they were no longer classified as regular A-tiers.

“There was sort of a glitch in the formula — the number of A-tiers that were allowed to be included in the total points was 10,” said PDGA Media Specialist Matt Rothstein. “The DGPT events were A-tiers, so according to the old formula, those would have taken up most of their A-tier slots. But when the change of the formula was made, elevating DGPT events to NT status, it opened up all those A-tier slots.”

Catrina Allen played nine non-DGPT A-tiers in 2020; Paige Pierce played just two. With 15 points available for a win at A-tiers and 25 for a win at DGPT events, Allen easily made up the ground that she had lost to Pierce at Elite Series events.

“[The PDGA senior staff] did a review of the formula that was used in 2020 and we ultimately came to the conclusion that it wasn’t a fair process for the players, and particularly Paige, in scheduling their seasons,” said Rothstein. Pierce spent much of her offseason in Hawaii after ending her 2020 campaign at the Disc Golf Pro Tour Championships. Allen played five A-tiers after the end of the primary touring season.

Pierce was the unanimous selection for Ultiworld Disc Golf’s 2020 Player of the Year Award after winning seven of the 10 DGPT regular season tournaments as well as the Women’s National Championships, the year’s only major. She finished ahead of Allen at 9 of the 12 Elite Series events in 2020. The PDGA’s initial announcement of Allen’s POY award was met with criticism from some online who believed Pierce deserved the award.

When the PDGA applied the 2019 Player of the Year criteria that had been in place up until November of last year, Pierce beat out Allen by one point. “In light of this information, the decision to add Pierce as co-winner of the POY alongside Allen emerged as the fairest resolution,” the PDGA said in a statement.

Rothstein said that the organization made a mistake by announcing changes to the Player of the Year points so late in the year. “It’s not easy to bite the bullet, but the PDGA staff did what they thought was right,” he said. The PDGA told Pierce recently that they had intended to announce the changes to the criteria in April but failed to do so until the end of the year.

“Honestly, whether they named me co-Player of the Year or not, I still would have looked back on 2020 as one of my best seasons to date,” said Pierce. “So to now to have a tangible obelisk, that’s just a little more special, I guess. But it’s a little bit of muddy water to be a co-Player of the Year. It’s like a participation award at that point.”

Pierce said that she “completely understood” that the PDGA wouldn’t take away the award that was given to Allen, but that she would have set a different touring schedule if she knew she had to play more A-tiers in order to win the Player of the Year award. She said that Allen clearly deserved to win the PDGA’s award for points leader but still felt that her own performance warranted the POY award.

Allen did not respond to a request for comment.

The criteria for the 2021 Player of the Year have been completely overhauled. “With the Elite Series being the de facto proving ground for all the top players, we think it’s appropriate to increase the emphasis on Majors and Elite events and decrease the emphasis on A and B Tiers,” said PDGA Events Coordinator Todd Lion in a statement.

Previously, winning a Major, Elite Series event, and A-Tier yielded 30, 25, and 15 points, respectively. Now, players will earn 100, 60, and 15 points, respectively. If last year’s POY races were decided with the 2021 criteria, Pierce would have won the award with 670 points over Allen’s 640.

  1. Charlie Eisenhood
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    Charlie Eisenhood is the publisher of Ultiworld Disc Golf.

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