PGA Rookie - Lesson 02 - Stats to Start

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’re new to Daily Fantasy golf, then, in all likely-hood, you’re new to the statistics of golf as well.  Golf can often be a very statistically-oriented sport, and, for newcomers, even understanding what some of these statistics mean can be confusing.  This article is going to describe and discuss three relevant statistics that a daily fantasy player can use as a starting point in some of their weekly PGA research.

Where to Look

The best place to find player statistics is at PGATour.com.  There may be other sites out there that house player histories, but the PGA Tour website contains almost all of the relevant information you will need and more.

Scoring Average

Scoring average is one of the most basic statistics you will find on the PGA Tour website, but, in many ways, it is also one of the most powerful.  Scoring average is calculated by dividing the total score of all the player’s rounds by the total number of rounds actually played.  Each round is also given a weight depending on the respective scoring average of the field for each round played.  For our purposes, scoring average can be very useful since, in general, players who rank highly in scoring average will tend to rank highly in birdies made as well.  As birdies mean more points for fantasy purposes (see the article on DraftKings scoring in our advanced guide), a player who ranks highly in scoring average can often be a good source of fantasy scoring as well.

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One very simple way to use a player’s scoring average to your advantage is to look for cheaper-priced players, who might rank higher than his counterparts in this statistic.  Oftentimes, a player might be priced cheaply on DraftKings if he has not been playing much or is coming back from hiatus or injury.  Taking a quick glance at a player’s scoring average can show you if that player is perhaps being undervalued for his actual performances thus far in the year.  Use a player’s scoring average as a quick and easy guide to see if he has been underpriced compared to the field for a given week.

Greens in Regulation (GIR)

Greens in Regulation is a useful tool that shows how consistently a player is actually playing.  The statistic measures how many times a player is able to get his ball on the green 2 strokes before par (in one shot for a par 3, in two shots for a par 4 and in three shots for a par 5).  The reason this statistic is such a good barometer of how a player is hitting the ball is that it takes everything related to putting and chipping (for the most part) out of the equation.  This is important, as players can often have a hot putting or chipping week that may hide a poor ball-striking performance.  The greens in regulation stat relies solely on the players shot from the tee and any shots from the fairway or rough to determine if the player is getting the ball on the green in a certain number of strokes.  Thus, to achieve a high ranking in this category, players need to be hitting it very solidly tee to green.

This stat can be useful to identify players who might be hitting the ball very well and are primed for a breakout soon.  A great example of how this stat can be useful comes from the 2014 Barclays championship winner, Hunter Mahan.  In the weeks preceding the event, Mahan was consistently placing in the top 5 in greens in regulation hit, yet had failed to post any significant results.  That all changed at the Barclays when a little luck with the putter allowed him to cash in on all of his of great ball striking by winning the tournament.  By using the greens in regulation statistic, you can identify players who are playing solidly—yet priced cheaply on DraftKings—and may be primed for a breakout, even if they have not posted any significant results lately.

Driving Distance and Driving Accuracy

These two stats—used separately—can be useful to help identify certain types of players who may be strong fantasy plays for a given week.  In general, when the players are on longer courses, which feature long roughs, driving distance can be used as a key stat to narrow down which players you would like to feature.  Powerful hitters will often be able to use their strength off the tee to their advantage and score better than shorter hitters. In contrast, short and narrow courses are often a great time to use driving accuracy as a statistic to find players for your fantasy team.  Straight drivers of the golf ball will benefit from hitting more fairways, yet won’t be handicapped for their lack of length.

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The most important thing to know about both of these driving statistics is that you must ensure you are applying the correct statistic for a given week.  A good way to ensure that you are applying the right driving statistic to help create your teams is to simply look at the course layout before deciding.  A par 70 course that plays under 7000 yards, such as Colonial, will generally be considered short by today’s tour standards (and a better place to use driving accuracy).  In contrast, a course such as Torrey Pines, which is a par 72 that plays over 7500 yards, is one of the longest the players will see all year (and a better place to use driving distance).  Additionally, looking at leaderboards from past years of play can be especially helpful to decide which driving statistic to apply.  Looking at last year’s results from Hilton Head, we can see both Matt Kuchar and Luke Donald at the top of the leaderboard.  Neither of these players have great distance off the tee and instead rely on their accuracy and short games to win tournaments.  This is a great indication that driving accuracy would have possibly been a good statistic to consider for that week.

Final Thoughts

Using player statistics can be a great help in assembling winning lineups.  When you are first starting out, I would recommend really focusing in on one or two of the aforementioned statistics to help you create your teams.  This should allow you to develop a solid baseline from which to compare players and also ensure you don’t become overwhelmed by having to consider an abundance of data.


Continue Reading PGA Training Camp

PGA Rookie – Lesson 01 – Welcome to Daily Fantasy Golf
PGA Rookie – Lesson 02 – Stats to Start
NEXT LESSON PGA Rookie – Lesson 03 – Scoring Tips and Tricks
PGA Rookie – Lesson 04 – Using Player Cards to Build Lineups
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