Perhaps things have changed since I stopped judging. As often as not the beer being judged had plenty of room for improvement. Occasionally there was what I called a bolt of lightning - that beer or mead that sat me back in my seat and made me say, "Wow! That is amazing!"
Perhaps the scoring system has changed too; you can score 40+ now?
I've only been judging about 6 years or so, but in listening to some of the old guys in my club, judging 15 years ago was actually fairly easy - for a flight of 8 beers, maybe 4 were drinkable and not clearly infected or fermeted too warm, etc. And of those 4 there were usually 1 or 2 that clearly stood above the rest. Maybe this is similar to the experience you had?
I guess with the popularity of homebrewing and much more easily accessible info on brewing better beer thanks to forums like these and publications by the likes of Gordon, Jamil, Palmer, etc., the entries have generally improved across the board to the point where now 6 of those 8 in the example above are solid beers.
My comments above were in slight jest, but the fact is I judge a flight of 6 amber/dark lagers a few weeks ago and had 4 beers that were worthy of 40+ scores, the best of which it turns out was a vienna lager by our very own forum friend "Spanishcastleales". I made sure to save that and the dunkel I was really fond of as a reward for all the writing
Max possible score is 50 nowadays.