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The World Amateur Golf Rankings are comprised of men’s and women’s rankings for elite amateur players, administered by The R&A and USGA. Here’s our quick explainer.
WAGR is a global golf service incorporating over 4,000 events with over 10,000 players. It’s a points-based system which is updated every week and covers a two-year rolling period over which players earn points.
The points are added up to determine who the world’s best male and female amateur player are.
Only three male and two female golfers have held the No. 1 ranking as both an amateur and a professional. The first was Rory McIlroy, followed by Jordan Spieth and Jon Rahm, while Lydia Ko was the first female player, followed by Atthaya Thitikul.
Player are awarded points by finishing highly in WAGR-certified tournaments and matches. The higher a player is placed, the more points they receive.
More points are awarded at events depending on the strength of the field and the size of the field, known as an event’s ‘power rating’. Events with more highly ranked players will award more points, while fewer points will be awarded at events with only a few ranked players.
To get a spot in the WAGR, an amateur player needs to have earned at least 6.5 points in an event in the last two years. Though during that period, your score will decrease with age. This means a result from many months ago will be worth less in terms of points than a result from a few weeks back.
The key principle is to earn the same or more points than your current points average. If a player’s finishing place at an event earns fewer points than their points average, their total points average will decrease. This decrease may cause a fall in their ranking position.
Tournaments and matches where you can add to your points total have to be certified by the WAGR Committee. Certified events are called ‘counting events’. The Committee decides if a golf event has met certain requirements. One example is that a winner’s score must be no more than six strokes over par. If it is, that event will not become a ‘counting event’.
These events must also follow the Amateur Rules of Golf. The main rule being that any event that offers prize money cannot be a counting event and therefore not award WAGR events.
Starting in January 2023, the importance of amateur players playing in professional events was reduced.
The power rating of some WAGR-certified events with many highly ranked amateur players can reach the upper 900s. However, some amateur players have been able to significantly boost their ranking by competing in professional events. For example, the 2022 US Open awarded 3597 WAGR points.
WAGR organisers have now reduced the professional event contribution to the power calculation by a third, returning the emphasis within WAGR to participating in amateur events.
Another alteration made in January saw the points distribution widened at WAGR-events. Up to January, there wasn’t much points distinction between low and high finishes in the final standings at events.
Now, players finishing higher will get more reward compared to those finishing lower, increasing both reward for better performances and jeopardy for poorer performances.