Saturday, October 23, 2010

Fantasy Golf: Missing the Cut

Buy at Art.comIt seems every major pro sport has a fantasy equivalent now. Football and baseball are the most well known but basketball, hockey, auto racing and even golf all have their own fantasy game. Fantasy Golf? Yup.

I've played fantasy football and fantasy NASCAR for years. For some crazy reason I decided to try fantasy golf this year. My reason was to see if I could use a similar strategy as I do in fantasy NASCAR, which has a similar format, to win in fantasy golf. (I need a better hobby)

I enjoy playing real golf but can't watch more than 5 minutes of it on TV. Golf news doesn't interest me and I don't follow the tour. For example, I'm such a PGA dunce that I didn't know the season had already started when I registered (did you know the tour starts in January?) and I had missed the first 4 tournaments! Fortunately there's not a draft and new players can join at any time.

But I like a challenge so I stuck with it. Despite earning 0 points for those first 4 tourneys and not following the sport at all (not easy given the news media's obsession with Tiger this year) I still finished the season in the top 37% of all Yahoo! fantasy golf teams!

That's not great but better than I expected. I'm guessing the bottom 50% probably quit updating their roster during the season.

In fantasy golf you should check your roster the day before and every day during a tournament. Every golfer doesn't play in every tournament so you have to make sure they're entered that week. Even then they might chicken out at the last minute...I got burned by a couple late withdrawals. Some of your starters might miss the cut before the final two days so make sure you at least check then...and hopefully your back up made the cut.

At the start of the season I picked my roster based on Yahoo's so called expert picks. They sucked. This caused some grief because I wanted to use the same strategy that works for me in fantasy NASCAR. That is to use the expert picks to fill my roster, then adjust as needed based on my knowledge and player starts remaining. I had to abandon that strategy after 4 or 5 weeks of lousy scores.

Next I switched to starting the scoring leaders who were entered that week. That worked a little better. By the middle of the season I realized that the biggest thing costing me points (other than not following professional golf) was players missing the cut...and me missing that they had missed the cut because I didn't check my roster Saturday morning.

So I looked at the ratio of a player's starts to their missed cuts (MC). If a player had 12 starts and 1 MC, he'd get the start over a guy with 11 starts and 3 MCs...even if player #2 had a higher average score. Since I didn't check my roster every day during a tournament, it was more valuable for me to have players with a higher likelihood of playing and scoring something versus a high scorer with a habit of missing cuts and scoring zero.

This approach worked well for me in the 2nd half of the season, my weekly scores got more consistent and I climbed in the rankings. If you follow golf regularly and are willing to dedicate the time to check your roster frequently then I don't recommend this strategy for you. But if you're someone with only a slight interest in golf that got roped into a fantasy league with your buddies, it could be worth a try.

Will I continue playing fantasy golf? No. This season was an experiment. None of my friends play it and I'm not interested in following the PGA tour. So there's nothing to justify the time cost...I'd much rather spend that time with my family or doing something productive.

But if you're into golf and fantasy sports...give fantasy golf a shot.