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DFS Golf 101: How to Play on DraftKings

Michael Riek

Michael is the 2016 FSWA Golf Writer of the Year winner. He is a former collegiate golfer with a passion for analytics and strategy.

Whether you’re just dipping your toes into the water on DFS golf or a longtime fantasy golf guru, it’s crucial to understand the fundamentals of the game. While many DFS sites are just starting to adopt golf into their repertoire, DraftKings has served as a pioneer in the golf realm for multiple years. For those transitioning from year-long leagues or general golf betting lines, many of the same strategies for finding good players and value plays apply to DFS golf, so congratulations on having a head start. For those hitting up DraftKings golf as your first go at fantasy golf, get ready for the enhanced excitement of the back nine on Sunday.

Below are some building blocks and tips for crafting successful squads on DraftKings

Game Types

• Tournaments (also known as Guaranteed Prize Pools or GPPs): top-heavy contests with big prizes for the top finishers, but not without added risk.

Perfect for: players seeking the big payout while competing against the masses.

• Satellites and Qualifiers: smaller-scale feeder contests that reward winners with entries into future higher-stakes contests like the Fantasy Golf Millionaire GPP.

Perfect for: players looking to get into big tournaments at a discount.

• Leagues: range from 3-100 players with varying prize pools depending on the number of entries. You can also create your own leagues to play against friends or challenge others from across the country. Overall it's a good way to start with friends who you can trash talk on Mondays.

Perfect for: players who want to play against their friends or have control over the structure of their own league.

• Head-to-Heads: a straightforward match against one opponent, winner takes all (after the rake). You can play for free or start with as little as $1; a timeless format that’s simple and fun.

Perfect for: beginners who want to keep it simple or players looking to build up their cash flow at a steady pace.

• Double Ups, 50/50s and Multipliers: smaller events where the upside is capped but chances of winning are still sensible. In 50/50s, you win if you outscore half the total entries, earning you about $1.90 for every $1 entered (the missing $0.10 is the rake). You can double your entry fee in Double Up contests, but you’ll need to finish better than just the top half. The same concept applies for Triple Ups, Quintuple Ups and 10x Boosters, which get increasingly more difficult to win, but come with greater rewards.

Perfect for: players looking for better payouts than head-to-head while having a better chance to cash than a GPP. It’s a good middle ground between head-to-heads and tournaments.

So where do you start? If you’re new to DraftKings, you can leverage beginner contests against other newcomers for your first 50 entries, which keeps the experienced sharks away while you build experience of your own. These contests are the same game types as described above.

Beyond beginner contests, your choice of game type should reflect your risk tolerance. If you love the notion of chasing the huge payday, tournaments might be your thing, but know that it comes with higher risk. If you want to improve your chance of winning more consistently over the long haul, head-to-head, 50/50s and double ups are your best bet, though the rewards are smaller. It’s not uncommon to see both experienced and novice players enter multiple game types to increase upside while limiting their risk as much as possible.

Know the Rules

If you do nothing else before entering a contest, read the rules and know the scoring system. In DraftKings Golf, once you know the game types, the rules are simple: draft six golfers and stay under the $50,000 salary cap. The scoring system, however, typically gets overlooked.
Without getting too detailed, players get points for:

• Each hole of their rounds (positive for par or better, negative for bogey or worse)
• Their finishing position (if it’s in the top 50)
• Arbitrary streaks and bonuses (like a streak of three birdies or a hole-in-one)

The reality here is that, on average, hole-by-hole points make up over 90 percent of a player’s final fantasy points. Players who finish in the top 10 are usually the only exceptions. Points from finishing position become trivial after the top 10, and streaks and bonuses are rare and extremely unpredictable.

Making the Cut is Crucial

Knowing that over 90 percent of a player’s final points come from hole-by-hole points, it becomes obvious that playing all four rounds instead of just two (by missing the cut) is a huge deal. This may be the most important thing to focus on when building a lineup – choosing six players with good odds of making the cut. Even if just two of your six players miss the cut, that’s around a 15-20 percent loss of your potential point total.

RotoWire Lineup Optimizer

With the new DraftKings community guidelines in place, the RotoWire Lineup Optimizer will no longer give you the pre-built “optimal” lineup for the week – it needs your input first. In the new setup, you’ll need to lock in at least two players before letting the optimizer do its magic. This is a positive in my eyes, as players will now use this more as a supportive tool and less as a crutch. Putting your own brain to work makes fantasy golf that much more rewarding and fun.

Check Injuries and Withdrawals

Both RotoWire and DraftKings are timely at labeling players who are injured or withdraw (WD) before the event, but it’s good to double check before the event starts so your team isn’t disadvantaged from the beginning. Starting a player returning from injury is risky because of the possibility of re-aggravating and withdrawing mid-event, so tread with caution.

These are just a handful of key fundamentals, but look for more articles to come that go beyond the basics and share how to strategically build a lineup and how you can use publicly available golf stats to do your own research and gain an advantage on the field.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire.