PGA Hall of Fame - Lesson 03 - Understanding Courses and Tournaments

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

One of the more popular sayings you will hear used in daily fantasy golf circles is the phrase “horses for courses”.  This phrase refers to the fact that certain golfers simply seem to excel on certain courses more than they do on others.   This is due in large part to the fact that not every golf course is created equally on Tour.  Every week presents its own unique test that the players must face, and every week, certain player attributes or shots will be more heavily-favoured depending on the course.  Conversely, not every player is created equally either, and certain players will simply be better equipped to excel on certain types of courses.  This article is going to explain the different types of course layouts and player tendencies that exist on tour and how to put that knowledge to use when creating lineups.

What Makes a Horse for a Course?

Generally, when a player displays a particular fondness for a specific tournament, it is due to two different factors: the player’s style of play and the style of golf course the tournament is being played at.  Specifically, it is when these distinct factors merge with each other favourably that we often see a player post consistently solid results at the same tournament.

For fantasy purposes, our goal should not only be to understand these sorts of course/player tendencies, but also to try and predict them before they happen.  It is easy for a fantasy player to look at a golfer’s past results and see that he has had success on a certain course, but it is much more difficult to predict a player who lacks history at an event and predict their outcome for the week.  To help you with this I’ve compiled a list of certain types of courses that exists on the PGA tour and the certain types of players that will generally succeed on the said style of course.  Hopefully this will enable you to make better decisions on what types of players to focus in on each week and improve your chance of creating a solid lineup.

The Long Par 72

These are courses that play well over 7200 yards, typically have four par 5’s and sometimes also feature longer rough.  These courses are long, more gruelling tests of golf that tend to feature lots of long par 4’s and limited scoring opportunities.  Long hitters and those with decent short games will generally fair better at these courses, as they can limit their mistakes and will have more scoring opportunities due to their increased length.

List of Courses

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Below are examples of courses that fall under the ‘Long Par 72’ category

1) Torrey Pines
2) Trump National at Doral
3) Congressional

Types of Players to Target

Below are some examples of players who play well at these courses

1) Dustin Johnson
2) Justin Rose

The Short Par 70

These are courses that will often make up for their lack of length by featuring tight tree lined fairways, small greens and lots of sand.  Since the course cannot be overpowered, keeping the ball in play and staying out of trouble is much more important.  Accurate hitters, good putters and those with sharp wedge games often will make their living playing these sorts of courses.

Types of Courses

Below are examples of courses that fall under the ‘Short Par 70’ category

1) Hilton Head
2) Colonial
3) Sea Island

Types of Players to Target

Below are some examples of players who play well at these courses

1) Luke Donald
2) Graeme McDowell

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The All-Around Test

These are courses which implement elements from both of the first two styles of courses into their design. They are generally very challenging tests of golf. Players will be tested in both their ability to drive the ball and on their short game as well.  A player who excels in multiple categories, such as long iron play and wedge accuracy, will often-times have the best chance of succeeding at this sort of venue.

List of Courses

Below are examples of courses that fall under the ‘All Around Test’ category

1) Augusta National
2) Muirfield Village

Types of Players to Target

Below are some examples of players who play well at these courses

1) Adam Scott
2) Rickie Fowler

The Birdie-Fest

These are often resort or stadium courses that have not been upgraded or “toughened” for the PGA tour.  As a result, the players will have ample opportunity to make birdie or better on most holes.  Players who rank high in approach proximity and strokes gained putting can oftentimes have the best success on these types of courses, as they can take advantage of the easier scoring conditions better than most.


Continue Reading PGA Training Camp

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

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