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The 19th Hole

Daily Fantasy Sports -- Golf

by Josh Culp
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:09 pm ET

Sit back and let me tell you a tale. It takes place back in the 1980s and involves a middle-aged man who loves fantasy golf so much that he runs to his front door every Monday morning to grab the morning newspaper and tally up his weekly PGA TOUR scores.


You can all relate to this, right? Not likely.


Unlike other professional sports, golf just doesn't have a deep history when it comes to fantasy gaming. There are no published box scores in the paper that show total birdies, pars, bogeys and so on. There is no standardized scoring format.


Fantasy golf is still in the Wild West. Daily Fantasy Golf is here to step in, colonize and start a monopoly in the best sense of the word. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the term "daily fantasy," I'm here to help.


Daily fantasy sports, which is commonly known -- and this close to being universally referred to -- as its abbreviation, "DFS," is a blanket term used to categorize any fantasy sports league that takes place over one day or one week rather than the traditional format that runs for an entire season. No commitments. You draft when you want to and don't have to keep the same golfers all year long.





Speaking of terminology, DFS has an entire dictionary full of unique sayings. You should know some of the lingo before diving deeper into the format. The types of games are primarily separated into two types: Cash games and GPPs.


• Cash game ... It's a term borrowed from poker and it can be summed up as any contest that has a high probability of payout. Want to play head-to-head? That's a cash game. How about a 100-man league where the top 50 scores get paid? That's also a cash game and known as a 50/50, which is another DFS term with which you should become acquainted. Cash games are a great test of skill and allows gamers to grind out their profits and grow their bankrolls slowly over time.


GPP ... Short for Guaranteed Prize Pool. These contests allow a large amount of entries. Prizes awarded will not change based on the number of final entrants. When there are fewer entry fees than the total amount in the prize pool, that is called overlay. Keep your eyes out for these since free money is a good thing. GPPs are where you turn rags into riches with huge prizes for finishing near the top. On the flip side, you generally have to finish inside the top-20 percentile of entries to get any return on investment. Higher risk, but also higher reward.



Skill Sets


Once you understand the two main types of games, it's time to talk about potential golfers to select. This is when DFS analysts will throw out terms such as value, contrarian and punt plays.


Value ... An underpriced golfer.


Contrarian ... A golfer who you believe will not be picked by a lot of people. This is when you think outside the box and try to give yourself an edge by drafting a lowly owned player.


Punt ... Traditional gamers often refer to these guys as fliers. If you fall in love with a lot of high-priced golfers and don't want to sacrifice, this is when you insert one into your lineup. You don't expect a lot out of him, but you hope he does enough while the rest of your roster does the heavy lifting.


Where to Play


Daily fantasy golf has grown leaps and bounds over the past year, but it's still relatively rare to find on most DFS sites. In fact, our partner here at Rotoworld -- Fanduel.com -- does not currently offer contests for golf and it isn't expected to add the sport to its arsenal anytime soon. Don't mess with a good thing, you might say, because the rest of FanDuel's offerings are top-notch.


Meanwhile, there are three primary sites to play DFS golf: DraftKings, Draft Day and Fantasy Feud. Each has its own respective scoring systems.


DraftKings ... Scores golfers hole-by-hole and awards points for pars, birdies and eagles while subtracting points for bogeys and double bogeys. There are bonuses for achievements such as holes-in-one and low round(s) of the day.


DraftDay ... Uses a very similar scoring layout as DraftKings, but the bonuses and points structure vary slightly.


Fantasy Feud ... Forget about hole-by-hole scoring when you play here because it's all about the final result. On this site, you are awarded fantasy points based on your golfer's final finishing position.


It's important to note that a few states that haven't legalized for-profit fantasy sports, at least not yet. They are Arizona, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana and Washington. For whatever reason, these states do not consider fantasy sports a game of skill. I would like to see the politicians who passed that bill try to enter lineups for a couple months to learn how much skill is really involved.





Next is roster construction. Below are a few common strategies you can utilize to get started.


• Stars & Scrubs ... As the name implies, this strategy will fill your team with as many stars as possible while rounding out the remaining spots with low-salaried golfers. The hope here is that your stars will do all the damage and anything the scrubs give you will be gravy on top. This strategy is highly recommended during no-cut events, since the scrubs will be guaranteed four rounds to accumulate fantasy points.


• Balanced Attack ... This is how most cash-game lineups are constructed. It's the safest strategy most of the time, but it often limits your upside. The goal here is to load up on golfers that are known to be cut-makers, and throw in one or two high-priced stars when possible.


• Budget Cuts ... I don't have an official name for it, but it goes like this: You draft your team, but intentionally leave a large portion of salary unspent. This will insure that your lineup is unique, because most managers try to spend their entire allotted budget. Its recommended usage and timing is for GPPs in tournaments that cater to shootouts. When scoring gets low, the superstars lose some of their edge and golfers pop out of the woodwork. This is a nice strategy to keep in your back pocket and use when needed.


• Bankroll Management ... This isn't a specific strategy, but it is the method you need to deploy to make DFS profitable and enjoyable over the long-term. This topic deserves an article of its own, but there are a couple of things that you should practice. First, play at the entry level that you can afford. Also, enter the same percentage of your bankroll every week no matter how you fared the previous week.


Those are a few key strategies, but it's always good to use your imagination and come up with your own.



Buckle Up


I will be joining my colleagues in 2015 in Playing the Tips, so look for my DFS advice throughout the year.


Daily fantasy golf is also sure to progress. Just two years ago, I would have said that you're crazy if you told me I could turn $2 into $2,000 in one week playing fantasy golf. In today's world, there are six-figure prize pools every week and the payouts during the major championship are massive.


No one could have seen this kind of growth coming, so what's next? How about VIP meet-and-greets with your favorite golfers, larger prize pools, new sites at which to play or even a live final where you have to qualify and then get to hang out with other DFS golfers while being treated like a celebrity.


The future is bright for Daily Fantasy Golf.


Josh Culp

Josh Culp joined NBC Sports Edge in 2014. The DFS enthusiast from Iowa State can be found on Twitter @futureoffantasy.