Daily Fantasy Golf is one of the best sports on the block at DraftKings, and given its recent growth, it’s definitely one worth learning more about. While most sports provide you with one day or night of excitement, fantasy golf means you get four days worth of watching your players — and your lineups — move up and down the leaderboards. Even though Fantasy Golf is different from most mainstream sports in a lot of ways, it’s also a sport that can be extremely fun to research for — and easy to play — once you understand a few basic principles. Below are five of the secrets of fantasy golf that will help take your lineup building skills to the next level.
1. Birdies and Eagles Are King
Here’s a quick rundown of how DraftKings Per Hole Scoring is setup for Daily Fantasy:
|Per-Hole Score||DK Points|
|Double Eagle (DBL EAG)||20|
|Double Bogey (DBL BOG)||-1|
|Worse than Double Bogey (WORSE DBL BOG)||-1|
While DraftKings awards negative points for players who score above par on a hole (-.5 for Bogey, -1 point for Double or worse), the positive points awarded for a score better than par far outweigh the negative for a bad score (+3 for birdie, +5 for eagle). Therefore, when we are making our roster selections, giving more weight to players who make a ton of birdies — even if it’s at the cost of making more bogeys — is a solid strategy.
As we can see below, players who rank highly in making birdies and eagles on the PGA Tour are also some of the highest fantasy scorers as well:
Top Ten Birdie or Better Leaders in the PGA
|Top Ten Birdie or Better||Top Ten DK Points Per Week|
|1. Justin Thomas||1. Dustin Johnson|
|2. Jordan Spieth||2. Rickie Fowler|
|3. Hideki Matsuyama||3. Sergio Garcia|
|4. Jon Rahm||4. Jon Rahm|
|5. Rickie Fowler||5. Jason Day|
|6. Dustin Johnson||6. Jordan Spieth|
|7. Justin Rose||7. Thomas Pieters|
|8. Scott Piercy||8. Phil Mickelson|
|9. Brooks Koepka||9. Patrick Cantlay|
|10. Phil Mickelson||10. Brendan Steele|
Using Birdie or Better rankings, or other statistics related to making scores under par can be a great way to identify players with more fantasy upside for play on DraftKings.
2. Just Make The Cut!
There’s nothing else that makes Daily Fantasy Golf more unique than the cut line. Imagine if every time you rostered an NBA or NHL player you didn’t just have to worry about how many fantasy points they would score, but also whether or not they would be allowed to play more than half of the game. That’s what DraftKings PGA players must deal with every week when selecting golfers. Since over half the field is usually eliminated after Friday’s round, getting as many golfers as possible through to the weekend is without a doubt the most vital part of rostering a successful lineup.
As we can see below, the difference in production of a player who makes the cut and misses it can be striking:
DK Stats on ‘The Cut’
|Against Cut||Percent Difference||Avg Points|
|Made Cut||42% Above||20.2 FP Above|
|Missed Cut||50% Below||24.2 FP Below|
1 – Players who made the cut scored 42% higher than the average golfer in a specific tournament on DraftKings
2 – Players who missed the cut scored 50% lower than the average golfer in a specific tournament on DraftKings
3 – Players who made the cut scored 20.2 Fantasy Points more than the average golfer in a specific tournament on DraftKings
4 – Players who missed the cut scored 24.2 Fantasy Points less than the average golfer in a specific tournament on DraftKings
Because of this huge discrepancy, it’s often better to target the golfers who have the highest probability of making the cut at their salary range. While no golfer is ever a lock to survive the cut, looking at a golfer’s made cut record over his career, his recent form, and his history at a certain event can certainly help pare down the field when looking for golfers with a higher than normal chance at playing the weekend.
3. The Course Matters
Not every course on tour is created equally. In fact, most courses will vary greatly in how they are laid out. Many courses play to longer yardages or will have different sorts of green structures. Factor in climate, and it is clear that knowing the course is a key step in researching your lineups. A longer par 72 course is generally going to feature many longer holes and include four par 5s, holes which often favor longer hitters. Similarly, a shorter par 70 course that has tighter tree-lined fairways takes away some of the advantages the long hitters have and can place a bigger premium on accuracy and short games.
A great example of how courses can differ week by week is by looking at the top-20 golfers from last year’s Masters and the tournament that followed it, the RBC Heritage. At the Masters, the top-20 players ranked much higher overall in distance as opposed to accuracy on tour, while the situation was almost completely reversed the following week at the RBC Heritage, a course that features much tighter fairways and less par 5s.
Average Rank of Golfer in Driving Distance in top twenty at RBC Heritage: 116
Average Rank of Golfer in Driving Accuracy in top twenty at RBC Heritage: 83
Average Rank of Golfer in Driving Distance in top twenty at Augusta: 64
Average Rank of Golfer in Driving Accuracy in top twenty at Augusta: 97
Doing course research and finding out what kind of players have prospered at certain venues and what statistics stick out week to week is definitely worth your while and can be a great way to start your lineups.
4. Find the Value
One way to identify good value plays every week for fantasy purposes is by looking at the odds to win. Every week, player odds to win a particular tournament can be compared with player pricing on DraftKings and can be used to find players who might be a little “underpriced” comparative to their respective odds. Here is a hypothetical example of three different golfers at similar price ranges whose odds are the same:
Louis Oosthuizen is priced at $8,800, Henrik Stenson is priced at $9,600 and Charl Schwartzel is priced at $9,400. Say all three of these golfers have 30-1 odds to win the tournament. This means Oosthuizen is at a valuable price because he is $600-$800 cheaper than those closely compared to him.
While odds to win are not the only method or factor you should use when selecting players, they can be a valuable tool to use to identify some higher upside players at bargain prices.
5. Every Player is On Their Own
PGA is different than most other sports because of a few factors. First, there is a cut line that removes half the field after two rounds of play. Second, every golfer gets the same scoring opportunities every week. There are eighteen holes played each round and a max of four rounds of golf (or 72 holes). That’s the same for everyone, and no coach or teammate will change that.
In NBA, NFL and pretty much every other major sport, minutes and playing time are not guaranteed, and a player’s performance can be affected by their correlation with other players (i.e. A QB-WR relationship) or other teams (i.e. going up against a weak opponent). For example, we’ve seen certain players over time perform much better in the NBA when a teammate sits, and we’ve seen certain wide receivers in football get a huge bump in targets when a teammate gets injured. However, these types of correlations and indicators don’t really exist in PGA (with the exception of perhaps weather factors) since each player is “on his own,” so to speak, when out on the course. Outside of injuries, no other sport has as big a scoring influence as the PGA cut line, an event which eliminates half the field every week and presents another obstacle every player must overcome if they are to reach value.
What this generally means for PGA on DraftKings, is that the difference between the top play (or plays) at a certain price range and those beneath him aren’t usually all that great. For example, at the DEAN & DELUCA Invitational in 2017, we can see that Sergio Garcia was a very popular play at around 24% owned in most major GPPs. However, when we compare Sergio to other lower-owned players in his price range from that tournament, we do see that there were several players who were similar to him statistically, from both a rank and fantasy performance perspective:
Comparison of the highly owned Sergio Garcia to players who were lesser owned than him at the DEAN & DELUCA Invitational
- Sergio Garica ($10,800) – 6th—official world golf ranks, 87.9—DK points per tournament, Cuts made 2017: 8/8
- Paul Casey ($10,200) – 14th—official world golf ranks, 67.1—DK points per tournament, Cuts made 2017: 10/10
- Matt Kuchar ($10,100) – 18th—official world golf ranks, 66.1—DK points per tournament, Cuts made 2017: 11/12
- Kevin Kisner ($9,700) – 45th—official world golf ranks, 71.2—DK points per tournament, Cuts made 2017: 10/10
While other factors (course history, recent form, statistical fit, etc.) may have made Sergio a higher upside play than others for the week, those factors generally aren’t as reliable as some of the matchup and lineup factors we get to take into account in other sports; factors which have a much more direct effect on player performance. Because of this, finding a comparable play to any highly owned player in Daily Fantasy PGA is often a much easier task and can make “Fading the Chalk” (avoiding the most popular plays) a very useful strategy—especially in larger tournaments.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is wavegoodbye) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.