PGA Hall of Fame - Lesson 01 - Scoring Bonuses

Geoff Ulrich is one of the lead PGA contributors to the DraftKings Playbook. You may see him playing at DraftKings with the username ‘wavegoodbye’ where he’s made a name for himself specifically playing daily fantasy golf, hockey and football. Follow him on twitter @thefantasygrind

If you’ve played daily fantasy golf on Draftkings before, you probably realize that there are points awarded (or taken away) for every score a golfer makes on a certain hole.  Additionally, the final placement of a player in a tournament can mean additional points for a player as well.  Finally, there is also certain “performance” bonuses awarded throughout the tournament to players who attain certain scoring achievements.  This article is going to discuss the effects of the above mentioned scoring system and discuss ways in which you can go about tailoring your weekly PGA roster selections to better fit its nuances.

Scoring System



As you can see above Draftkings employs a variety of different ways for a golfer to score you fantasy points.  To see how they can effect a player’s final fantasy point total, and how you should take this into account for your weekly rosters and projections, I’ve compared some different results from a past tournament—the 2015 Waste Management Open.


As seen above, all three players finished this event with the exact same real-life finishing spot and scoring total.  However, we can also see that their final point totals on Draftkings are all substantially different.  This is because of two distinct variables that Draftkings scoring system brings into play that deviate from the traditional PGA scoring model.  Both are discussed below:

Birdies and Eagles Outweigh Bogies or Worse

First, Draftkings awards positive points for birdies—and all scores lower than par— on a more substantial basis than they award negative points for any scores worse than par.  This discrepancy—and deviation from real life PGA scoring—can be understood by analyzing the point totals of Ryan Palmer and Hideki Matsuyama posted above.  When comparing Palmer and Matsuyama we can see that both players ended the tournament at -14 (tied for second), and each player also scored 9 bonus points (from 3 Draftkings bonus achievements).  Yet we can also see that Matsuyama still ended up with 4.5 more Draftkings fantasy points than Palmer.  This is because Matsuyama also ended up with 19 birdies to Palmer’s 16.  While Palmer outscored Matsuyama in Pars (26pts—23pts), Matsuyama ended up with a 9 point advantage over him in Birdies (57pts—48pts).  While this advantage was negated somewhat by Matsuyama also having more bogies on his card—5 compared to Palmer’s 2—it still did not equal out the final Draftkings totals, and Matsuyama ended up outscoring Palmer by 4.5 pts.

What this example shows us then is that the Draftkings scoring system will award more points to players who finish with a higher number of birdies and eagles on their scorecard—even if they also score more bogies than their counterparts.  Thus, assuming two players achieve equal final placements in a tournament (as the players above did) the player with a higher birdie/eagle total will outscore the player who reached the same final placement by scoring less birdies/eagles.

The Bonus Factor

The only time the above scenario will not hold true is if a player is able to make up for his birdie deficiency by scoring more points through bonus achievements.  For example, if we now compare the fantasy scores of Watson and Palmer from above we can see that both players scored 16 birdies and 1 eagle, yet Palmer outscored Watson for fantasy purposes by 3.5pts.  This is due to the fact that Palmer was able to achieve 3 bonuses of 3pts each (for three bogey free rounds), while Watson was only able to achieve 2 (one birdie streak of three holes and for a bogey free round).  In this case, while each player achieved the same total number of points for scores made under par, the bonus system allowed owners of Palmer to reap an advantage.

When looking at the bonus achievements on Draftkings, we can see that in general terms, the better a player plays, the more likely he will be to achieve a bonus.  Bogey free rounds, birdie streaks and scoring four rounds under 70 are all achievements likely to be unlocked only by players who are playing at a high level.  Hence when trying to factor these bonuses into our scoring projections or roster selections, it is difficult to really measure when, or if, a player will actually score a bonus (more on this below).  Instead, because of the inherent unpredictability, the bonuses on Draftkings should, for most purposes, be looked at as an added feature in scoring, which can add excitement to the daily fantasy experience.


While it can be somewhat difficult to quantify, there is some substantive knowledge we can glean from our assessment of Draftkings’ scoring.  The first is that birdies are very good for fantasy scoring, and we should do all we can to get more of them on our team.  Not only do they outweigh bogies in terms of weight, but they can also help us unlock bonus achievements like three birdie streaks and 4 rounds under 70.  Since we know how valuable birdies are, using a player’s overall birdie average (a statistic found on as a kind of tiebreaker or weighting mechanism in your weekly projections can be a useful way to ensure your team is properly constructed for Draftkings scoring purposes.

Secondly, we have to understand that every week, regardless of who is playing, the best scoring players will also have the best shot at achieving bonuses.  While certain players may be luckier than others in terms of landing a bonus achievement, it still holds true that those who score the lowest will expose themselves to the best chances of posting a birdie streak, four sub-par rounds or even a hole-in-one.  Hence while it is good to understand all the facets of scoring on Draftkings, bonuses are generally not something we need to worry about in regards to constructing our rosters.  Picking the best team possible—what golfers we think will post the lowest total scores in a given week—should still, and always be, our ultimate goal.

Continue Reading PGA Training Camp

PGA Hall of Fame – Lesson 01 – PGA Scoring Bonuses
NEXT LESSON PGA Hall of Fame – Lesson 02 – Tournament Strategy
PGA Hall of Fame – Lesson 03 – Understanding Courses and Tournaments
PGA Hall of Fame – Lesson 04 – Advanced Stats

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