In reviewing the women’s tees at the Memorial, there were some successes, some over adjustments, some oddities, and some lessons learned. Additionally, we learned good methods for adjusting holes (and reasons to not adjust holes) going forward. The emphasis on statistics for the entire field (MPO and FPO) definitely improved our understanding of the way each hole was played by everyone. In 2017, only 65% of MPO and 80% of FPO were tracked statistically.
First, let’s review the successes. Twelve holes (7 at Fountain, 5 at Vista) were adjusted. These holes were adjusted because women were reaching C2 in regulation at very low rates (less than 15%). With the adjusted tee or pin positions, 10 of these 12 holes, adjusted to a C2 in regulation range that is comparable to that of MPO. These were the successes.
After seeing the increase in success on these holes, we actually see larger scoring separation. The scoring variations on these holes were now because some women were succeeding on their birdie attempts as opposed to getting scoring separation primarily when some women fail to card par.
Hole 1 at Fountain, which was shortened by over 100′, actually had worse scoring. Hole 1 is interesting in this discussion. As a water carry hole, it is wrought with danger. It is also your first throw of the day, It is also a tremendous risk reward throw. In our discussions of why the scoring got worse on hole 1, there have been many theories: tracking the whole field would possibly bring the stats down, encouraging more risk could cause higher scores if the throw does not succeed, getting women closer on their drives may encourage a more aggressive second shot that could go OB, statistical variance.
In fact, we do not know the exact reason scoring got worse with a shortened hole, but we will continue to discuss it and are open to learning and adjusting. A quick review of our theories yields precious little insight. First, we were tracking the whole field for the 10 success story holes above, so the addition of the lower cards to the statistics did not negatively impact those holes. Why would it negatively impact this particular hole? Second, encouraging more risk (insert OB comparison here). Finally, natural statistical variance is the only theory that is left, and it might just be the one that makes the most sense.
Perhaps with a year under their belt, the FPO division will feel comfortable attacking hole 1 and will start to succeed, giving us the positive scoring separation we are all rooting for.
Hole 15 at Vista, a 700’+ par 4 for MPO, was shortened to 450′. As a result, the C2 in regulation percentage sky rocketed. The number of birdies on the hole went from zero to over 60% with over 70% getting inside C1 in regulation. Going forward, we learned that you can shorten the holes too much and we will recommend that this tee be pushed back to closer to 600′ for the women.
Getting the info to the women needs to be better. There was some early confusion about which holes were being adjusted which led to inefficient practice schedules. We empathize and apologize for this and appreciate all of the leeway the women have given us as we work to make this transition correctly. Additionally, there was at least one iconic hole (4 at Fountain) that, even though it may not fit perfectly into the women’s game, was seen as a loss due to its history and beauty. These are things that will continue to be taken into account.
Our goal is to create a game for the women that is comparable to the game that the men enjoy. A game that emphasizes distance, accuracy, the short game and putting on a relatively equal level and will give more women an opportunity to compete in our sport’s top levels. Creating a sustainable women’s game is going to require effort, perseverance and an ability to adjust as we learn.
Adjusting the women’s tees and/or pins is just one aspect of this. Increased media, creature comforts, and recognition are also being done to much initial praise. Are we looking in the right direction regarding the women’s game? Should we change more holes? less holes? all holes? If you were going to design a disc golf course for an all FPO event, would you design it the same as a course for an all MPO event? Let us know your thoughts.