Which places produce the most elite disc golfers?
January 25, 2021 by Jesse Weisz in Analysis with comments
Inspired by months of studying color-coded maps of the US to track the COVID-19 pandemic and the presidential election, I decided to create a few map-inspired disc golf data visualizations. Here is a look at some geographical data of the MPO division. (The FPO version is here.)
You can mouse over this map to see who the top-rated MPO players (as of the 12/8/2020 ratings update) are in each state. To me, the most interesting takeaway from this visualization is you can see which states you could move to if you wanted to be the best player in your state. I bet that 963 in Wyoming is looking very tempting for many of you.
If you follow professional disc golf but haven’t looked at the rankings lately, you might be surprised by the current top 10. Half of the top 10 rated players in MPO weren’t part of the US tour in 2020.
- Paul McBeth and Ricky Wysocki ended up tied for the highest player rating at the end of the year. As of the January update, Wysocki has taken over the solo #1 spot, one rating point higher than McBeth.
- Heimburg has been a surprising addition to the top three. He has had a very steep upward trajectory.
- If you had to guess the nationality of the top European, you’d probably have guessed it was a Finn. If I told you it was a German, you would probably be surprised it wasn’t Simon Lizotte. Twenty-four-year-old Marvin Tetzel has won a third of the tournaments he has entered. He has not won an A-tier in Open yet, though — he is set to take on a more elite field at this spring’s Kokkedal Open.
- Nate Sexton won the Las Vegas Challenge at the start of 2020, but he only played in five more tournaments for the rest of the season due to the pandemic.
- Jacky Chen, who is tied for eighth, has only one tournament used to generate his 1040 rating. His remarkable showing at the 2020 Asia Open was one of the highlights of a very strange year. Let’s hope he makes it over to the US this year to play in some elite events.
- Josh Anthon played only two tournaments in 2020.
- Scott Withers played in lots of tournaments locally and won an impressive 20 B/C tiers in 2020. He finished in 14th at the Las Vegas Challenger, his only A-tier of 2020.
In the map below, you will find the amount of 1000+ rated players per state as of the 12/8/2020 ratings update. Through this graph, you can see which states have the most high-level players. It also shows the relative weakness of some regions, like the northeast. California with its 33 1000+ rated players is a bit of an outlier.
The bar graph below includes individual states and countries to provide a more global comparison. I did not include the US as a country on this map because at 286 total 1000+ rated players, it would ruin the sensitivity. Finland stands out as clearly the best country outside of the US.
In the next graph, I have calculated 1000+ rated players per capita for each state and country. As you can see, Finland is clearly the leader in producing 1000+ rated players per capita, even better than Oregon, the best individual state in the US. When we look at California on a per capita basis, it is no longer an outlier — rather, it is actually quite average for the US, having nearly the same per capita amount of 1000+ rated players as the country as a whole.
Finally, I wanted to see if the number of 1000+ disc golfers per capita correlated with the number of courses per capita. Drawing from the work of Steven Vrooman’s article on courses per capita in states and countries, I put together this scatter graph:
It seems very inconclusive to me, especially given the small sample sizes. In an attempt to get a larger sample size, I tried out courses per capita and PDGA Members per capita version of the scatter graph:
Takeaway: I still think we are still in small sample size territory. And outliers really distort the graph. Finland follows the trend line pretty well.
What do you notice in the data? Comment below!