DAILY FANTASY GOLF STRATEGY – For many years, before my daily fantasy golf life, I would enter survivor/survival golf pools, and only for the major tournaments. For these pools, you’d pick any 4 or 5 golfers you wanted, no salary cap, and you needed all of them to make the cut to qualify. The funny thing about picking any golfer you wanted, it was still difficult to have all your golfers make the cut. On any given day, a player like Rickie Fowler (19 of 26 cuts) or Martin Kaymer (15 of 19 cuts), can have a bad round, or even just a bad hole on the first two days of a tournament and they’ll miss the cut. So let’s just state it right now, daily fantasy golf isn’t easy. You’re going to be wrong…… a lot.
When I first began playing daily fantasy golf, I hunted for strategy information around the internet but really couldn’t find anything that I didn’t already know, such as FORM, TYPE OF COURSE, and HORSES FOR COURSES. So there’s been much trial and error over the past year in attempts to figure out anything new, while still using the information of old. This means, looking deeper at the statistics we’ve already been using.
A golfer’s form may be the most important thing to keep an eye on. That’s not to say a golfer, while on a hot streak, can’t have a minor blip, or the opposite, a golfer who is stone cold, out of nowhere puts up a huge showing. These things happen, but if you’re playing the percentages, a player in good form is someone you should consider for your team, and a player in poor form is someone you should stay away from.
However, are these things always black and white? In my opinion, NO. There can be a debate on what is good form and what is bad form. I had many discussions last year on a specific golfer, that golfer being Stewart Cink. I was a fan and my counterpart was not. We had opposite views on his form. In my opinion, he had good form as he made 21 of 25 cuts. Whereas the counter argument made was that he had no top 10’s, so how can he have good form?
The answer, FORM is relative to your purpose, if that makes sense. Stewart Cink was always a bargain basement price, and to me, for his cost savings, and his ability to make cuts, his FORM, in my opinion, was terrific. All I wanted was for him to make a cut. His cut percentage was better than the above mentioned FOWLER and KAYMER. So FORM can be more than just very high finishes and hot streaks, when you’re looking for cheaper players, finding CUT MAKING form is also important to have success in daily fantasy golf.
THE MISSED CUT
When a player misses a cut, usually, the following week, many people will stay away from that golfer. We think his form is poor or is about to get poor, however, you need to read between the lines sometimes. Missed cuts happen for many reasons, and bad form is a big one, but sometimes, you see a golfer miss the cut with a blow up round or maybe just a poor round, but they follow it up or precede it with a solid round in the 60’s, like a nice 67. When you see something like this, open up his scorecard to see what may have gone wrong in that bad round. If all the stats look normal for that round, such as average putting, greens in regulation and driving accuracy, then it’s possible that whatever mistakes did happen, happened on the wrong holes, or were magnified by penalties. Sometimes an errant shot on one hole might not get penalized, but on another it can. If you can chalk up the bad round to bad luck, then you have an opportunity to select a golfer that doesn’t have poor form but has the perception of poor form. So don’t be afraid of missed cuts. Look deeper because it could be opportunity staring at you right in the face.
HORSES FOR COURSES
Some players just love certain courses, whether it be that their game suits a course perfectly, or if they live nearby and play the course more than others, it’s something that you always must pay attention to. But horses for courses shouldn’t just end there.
Sometimes, there are correlations between many different courses and you’ll see very similar leaderboards. Such as The Sony Open, RBC Heritage and OHL at Mayakoba. When this occurs, the advantage is finding a golfer in the field that has no track record at the course being played, but has great history at the others ones. This provides you with an edge on what will probably be a low owned player.
Besides looking for course correlations, some players like certain states, Florida Golf, Arizona Golf etc. Different states have different types of grass on the fairways, in the rough, and on the greens. Check to see where golfers do most of their top work and see if you can make correlations to better play in certain states and then take advantage of the situations.
A great resource to find Horses For Courses statistics is a paid site called GOLFSTATS and is well worth the money.
TYPE OF COURSE
We’ve talked about Horses For Courses and players with an affinity for specific states, but we also must look at the type of course. Is it short or long? Are the fairways tight? Are there many doglegs? Are the greens small or large? Are the greens undulating with big breaks? All of these become factors for player selection. This is where analyzing statistics becomes crucial. Every statistic that exists can be found on the PGATOUR.com website, but also, through GOLFSTATS, you can actually see where every player in the tournament ranked for distance, accuracy, greens in regulation and putting. From there, you’ll be able to see patterns of what specific categories were dominant amongst the leaders, and should garner your attention when selecting players for the week. An FYI, you always need to putt well.
GREENS IN REGULATION
A little break down when it comes to Greens In Regulation, as it’s one of those numbers that might not always be what it seems. It’s something that I learned from horse racing. The great Andy Beyer, creator of the beyer speed figure, also wrote about how a figure could be biased based on conditions. So we take the question he posed and relate it to golf. How did you achieve your greens in regulation percentage? A player like Bubba Watson has one of the best GIR’s around, but it’s actually deceiving. You see, Bubba hits the ball so long, that he has tons of short irons into the greens. Obviously, the closer you are to the green, the better your GIR will be. However, if Bubba is on a course that forces him to have shorter drives or longer irons into the greens, his GIR percentage and ranking will not be as stellar. On the flip side to the short iron strength of Bubba Watson, a player like Stewart Cink had a top 60 GIR in 2014, but was atrocious with his wedge game, but excelled in the mid to long iron GIR. Another interesting example is Henrik Stenson. He’s always near the top in world golf rankings, but his putting is nothing to write home about and his short irons are just average. So how can this be? The answer. Most of today’s courses are built long, putting a premium on extremely long second iron shots and no one in the world is better from 175 yards out than Henrik Stenson. For a short course you might have seen his high GIR and taken him, but that’s not his strength. You must go deeper into the statistics to see this.
So knowing the strengths and weakness’ for a players Greens In Regulation is a must when selecting them for a specific type of course because numbers aren’t always as they seem.
GOLF ODDS AND MiSPRICED PLAYERS
Every week, you should go to 3 different online sports books and check the golf odds on every player in the field. From there, you should create a list of the combined average odds and then try to find big anomalies between the odds and any player salary for daily fantasy golf. If you find a large discrepancy on a mid to top player, in our opinion, it’s best to take advantage. Is Vegas always right? No. For golf, most of the time they are very wrong, That’s why the odds are always so high for golf. But they are in the general ball park. Earlier this year, we found a discrepancy on Bill Haas. We didn’t need to even see the Vegas odds to know that someone didn’t do their job. You had one of the best cut makers with upside, ranked as the 60th best golfer when his world rank is around the 30 mark. Not all the top golfers were in the field, so he should have been ranked in the top 20, probably top 15. I took him on all tickets. I didn’t blink. When these things happen, you must act on them with conviction.
Different sites have different scoring systems. Some reward players differently with bonuses for things like 3 birdies in a row or bogey free round. Some give more points for birdies than others etc. etc.
So when it comes to systems that are heavily in favour of birdies, it’s best to look for players that make them. You can go to the PGA TOUR website and find all the stats you need on average birdies per round. The first time I ever took Brooks Koepka, the US Open, I learned that even though he was driving me crazy with double and triple bogeys, he kept on getting birdies. His even par rounds were roller coaster rides that accumulated tons of points. Finding players like him that birdie, even though they might not score well, can help you move up the standings.
Start following every golfers twitter account. Not every golfer is a dedicated tweeter, but sometimes they’ll pull out their phone and tell you how they’re feeling after a practice round. What you’re looking for is a golfer that tweets that the course is playing tough. You know right there, his practice round didn’t go very well, and maybe that’s a sign that he and the course will not agree with each other for the rest of the week.
Another reason to join Twitter is to get to know their personal lives. Off the course issues might effect their play or cause them to miss time, such as births, family emergencies and injuries.
So now, through the above, you have a bunch of golfers that you like. Probably more than you know what to do with. In our opinion, you must take a stand and build a core. Sometimes the way you build this core can be different, depending on the situation.
John Deere Classic
Zach Johnson, Steve Stricker, Ryan Moore, Kevin Na have top notch records over the course. Besides Spieth, their isn’t other top competition. We find ways to have 3 of the 4 on all tickets, due to salary constraints, and then do our best to find the cheap players that will make the cut to fill in the other 3 spots. If we made 9 tickets, we’d go with 33% representation for each remaining player, unless there was a cheap player that really stood out to us. For this tournament, we knew that all the above players were not very long off the tee but very accurate in all other aspects of their games. So we looked for players like that to fill in those spots.
OHL at Mayakoba
Here was a course that had some player history. It was a short course that seemed to play to accurate players and even some long players. The hardest part of this week was spending tons of money on players that outside of this tournament were not very reliable to make the cut. So we went searching for the best deal on guys we thought would make the cut and had course history. We ended up on Jerry Kelly, whom had a perfect style for the course, and a favorite of ours, Daniel Summerhays. Summerhays was the hot pick from the year previous, but missed the cut. We thought his missed cut was not indicative of his play. Here we had, in our minds, 2 bargains. So we played these 2 guys as our core on every ticket. From there, we looked at horses for courses in all price ranges and mixed and matched. For this tournament we tiered players, using our top 3 plays, not including KELLY and SUMMERHAYS, on 60% of our tickets. From there, we had 2 players left on every ticket to fill spots and we would use the remaining players we liked on 10-30% of tickets.
In an event like the U.S. Open, anything can happen. It’s very difficult golf. Usually in an event like this, we have a core of 6-8 players and we try to have max 50% exposure on any of them, so in all likelihood, 1 or possibly 2 won’t make the cut, we still have some tickets intact. After the core, we will then look for another to fill in the rest our spots with a max of 20%. In an event like this, we hope the winner is in our core, this year it was Martin Kaymer. We had him on 40% of our tickets and our other core players all made the cut. This put our tickets in a great spot with many different options filling the last 2-3 spots for every ticket.
NON CUT TOURNAMENTS
For non cut tournaments, meaning, everyone makes the cut. You don’t have to worry about your players not being around for the weekend. So for these, you can make many more boom and bust tickets with no fear. So feel free to pick some bargain basement fliers. In fact, in these types of tournaments, there are usually small fields, and you need to differentiate yourself from other teams. So playing low end players is encouraged as they won’t hurt you as much if they don’t play well. Others players that you should play in non cut tournaments are birdie makers. Since they can’t miss the cut, they can still make birdies all weekend. Sometimes these types of players out point players who finish much higher in the standings due to site specific scoring systems.
These are just a few different roster construction strategies we’ve used and it’s really up to the week and the salary of players. However, you always must find a core to build around.
Before we end this section on Roster Construction, I think it’s best to discuss the ART OF THE FADE. This means, when constructing rosters, players you should stay away from. By late summer 2014, Rory Mcilroy was anointed to be Tiger Woods after winning 2 tournaments in a row. The problem with that, there was and only is one Tiger Woods. This is golf. It’s not tennis, where the top 5-6 players always end up in the semi finals. Now Back to Rory. By the end of the summer, his player salary had gone through the roof. He was priced to win. Rostering him, would severely hamper your ability to roster many other players you liked, and all of a sudden, you were forced to take players that had less of a chance to make the cut. If Rory didn’t win in these situations, he wasn’t worth the price. So keep in mind, when you’re looking for bargains, you should also look to see who is overpriced, and decide that they are not a good choice because it hampers your ability to create an optimal roster.
So besides our above strategies, based on what others have done, we’ll share a couple of strategies that we’ve never tried.
1) Using golf odds, constructing the best lineup you can, by using the the highest ranked golfers your money can buy in one lineup. We’ve read that one player has done such a thing and won.
2) Using the average fantasy points earned, by constructing a lineup using as many of the top point getters your money can buy in one lineup. This would be optimal point roster.
3) Like the 2 previous, you can do the same with the world golf rankings.
REMEMBER, you’re core players aren’t always going to play great. You need to have a short memory, take your lumps and move on. Daily Fantasy Golf