Welcome back, golf fans. We here at Tour Level Fantasy are thrilled to be joining Golf News Net for the upcoming season. If you haven’t heard of us yet, Tour Level Fantasy & Sports is where sports betting meets daily fantasy advice. We founded with one goal in mind: helping people make money through betting or DFS golf. Picking winners alone won’t ensure DFS profitability, so we take you through our entire process to help you best prepare each week!
The Sony Open is the second tournament of the 2018 PGA Tour docket, and, like the Sentry Tournament of Champions, it also takes place in Hawaii. The tournament has been played at the Waialae Country Club in Honolulu since the event’s inception way back in 1965, at which point it was known as the Hawaiian Open. Prior to the 1975 season, this event was played in the late fall before it was moved to the early winter slot it now occupies. Waialae has the fourth-longest run hosting an event of any course on the PGA Tour, as it now is in its 52nd year hosting a PGA Tour event.
The first lead sponsor of the event was United Airlines in 1991. In 1999, Sony replaced United as the sponsor. The tournament is organized by Friends of Hawaii Charities, which provides funding for more than 350 nonprofit endeavors that benefit Hawaii’s women, youth and the needy. Together with the help of The Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, the event’s charity partner, the Sony Open has raised more than $16 million over the past 18 years.
As most golf fans know, this is the first full-field event of the PGA season and is also the first event with a cut. With that in mind, we will try to put an emphasis on not only players who we think will excel but those who might struggle and are less likely to make the cut.
Course preview: Waialae Country Club
Waialae Country Club was designed by one of America’s great designers, Seth Raynor, who has designed some of the greatest courses in the United States, including Fishers Island and The Course at Yale. The front and back nines of Waialae are switched for the PGA Tour event so player will be finishing at the dogleg ninth hole so keep that in mind when looking at non-PGA scorecards.
Raynor is known for borrowing from some of the legendary courses and holes in Europe, and those holes specifically found at WCC include:
- The par-3 13th modeled from one on the Biarritz Course in France.
- Waialae’s eighth hole patterned after the famous Redan hole on the North Berwick Golf Club in Scotland.
- Other notable holes include the 6th hole that is similar to the 6th hole of the National Golf Links of America at Southampton, Long Island and the 10th Hole that introduces features of the 17th hole at St. Andrews in Scotland.
Waialae CC is a par-70 course that features four par 3s, 12 par 4s and two par 5s (both are reachable by almost all the players in the field). In fact, the par 5s are actually two of the easiest on Tour. It is important to note that the course is located right next to Maunalua Bay, which can cause windy conditions. Because of this, Waialae CC has annually been one of the most difficult courses on the PGA Tour, specifically in regards to hitting the fairways off the tee. It was the most difficult course in both 2006 and 2010 in large part due to the crazy wind. Regardless of wind, it is always within the top 15 most difficult fairways to hit every year.
The greens are Bermudagrass and are of small-to-average in size. The greens will play fairly fast (running around 11 on the Stimpmeter) and will be firm, especially compared to last week. Some have opined that golfers who can hit or naturally do hit a draw (ball flight from right to left) tend to have a slight advantage here. Therefore, in terms of constructing a player pool, if you can find ball strikers with good performance on Bermuda and familiarity with the course, then that will provide you a solid foundation for success in constructing a roster of players likely to succeed this week.
Now that we’ve set the stage for the tournament, and built a course profile, let’s dive into the field and see what players may be best suited here!
Introduction to DFS golf
If you have not played Daily Fantasy Golf before, then this section will be of utmost importance to you. Some basic DFS info first. Last year alone the two major DFS companies (DraftKings & FanDuel) paid out over $20 million in prizes for golf contests. A sport that has seen significant growth in DFS over the last few years, this is setting up to be the biggest and best year of DFS golf yet.
Now a brief introduction to each of the two Daily Fantasy sites that we will focus our attention on:
DraftKings: The biggest contests can be found here. Some people may think golf is boring to watch, but if you had the chance to win $50,000, it becomes less and less boring. Trust us. The goal is to score as many points as possible by picking six golfers that must fit under a salary cap of $50,000. Each golfer will have an assigned salary, and your team cannot exceed that $50,000 total. The golfers earn you points based on a few different factors:
- Finishing position of the tournament: The better the golfer finishes, the more points he receives.
- Hole-by-hole scoring: This is where the golfers earn most of the points. Each hole a golfer plays and records a score, that score will go to your DK points: 8 points for an eagle, 3 for a birdie, 0.5 for a par, -0.5 for a bogey and -1 for a double bogey or worse.
- Bonuses: DraftKings has some bonus points category that include bogey-free rounds, birdie streaks (a golfer gets 3 or more birdies in a row), all 4 rounds under 60 and a hole-in-one bonus.
FanDuel: Similarly to DraftKings, at FD you pick 6 golfers as well. This time you must stay under the $60,000 salary cap. FanDuel just released golf last year, so their contest sizes are not quite as big as DK yet. Much like with DraftKings, each golfer you choose will receive points based on the criteria:
- Finishing position of the tournament: The better the golfer finishes, the more points he receives.
- Hole-by-hole scoring: This is where the golfers earn most of the points. Each hole a golfer plays and records a score, that score will go to your FD points: 8 7 points for an eagle, 3.1 for a birdie, .05 for a par, -1 for a bogey and -3 for a double bogey or worse.
- Bonuses: FD has their own set of bonus points that include bogey-free rounds, 5 or more birdies in a single round and bounce back (golfer makes a birdie after a bogey).
Golfer salaries are determined by some algorithm each site has created, but basically, is based on odds to win the tournament. The better the odds of the golfer, the higher the salary will be. Now that we have a good knowledge base underway, we can dive a bit more into the process we have at Tour Level when selecting golfers & contests!
DFS golf contest selection: What to enter
Contest selection can be just as important as the golfers you choose to make your lineup. In Daily Fantasy Sports, there are two different types of contests: cash games (50/50) and guaranteed prize pools (GPP). Each contest will have a different strategy in which golfers to choose, and that’s what we at Tour Level make sure to help you with each week!
Cash Games are contests in which 50% of the people win and 50% of the people lose. You can play in a 50/50 contest with 5,000 people (where 2,500 win) or against just one other person. To start, we recommend playing the one with 5,000 people. Contest buy-ins for 50/50 contests range from $1 all the way up to $10,000.
Guaranteed Prize Pools (GPPs) provide the opportunity to win big, but consequently, lose it all as well. Only about 15-20% of the entries cash in a GPP, and contests buy-ins range from $0.25 to $5,300!
The contest with the highest prize pools this week are as follows:
- $33 buy-in called the “Dogleg” it has a total prize pool of $200,000 and has a top prize of $20,000.
- $8 buy-in called the “Best Ball” it has a total prize pool of $140,000 and has a top prize of $15,000.
- $333 buy-in called the “Club Pro” it has a total prize pool of $100,000 and has a top prize of $20,000.
- $3 buy-in called the “Birdie” it has a total prize pool of $90,000 and has a top prize of $5,000.
DFS golf strategy
With two different contest types, each has their own unique strategy. In GPPs you are trying to beat 80% of the field just to cash, where in cash games you only need to beat 50% of the field. To beat 80% of the field you need to have golfers that nobody else has in their lineup, and those golfers must perform well. With cash games you only need to beat 50% of the field, so you want to be more conservative and choose the “safe” golfers to ensure you have golfers playing the weekend! Below we will highlight our top plays from each type of contest! This week will we focus on just DraftKings players.
Cash Games:The goal is to focus on players that are deemed “safe” and also give you the ability to have plenty of salary flexibility to make sure all of the golfers you choose are of quality.
- Zach Johnson ($9,500) -- Par-70 short courses are a perfect fit for Zach Johnson. He has two top-10s the last two years here. This is a perfect course for a player that has a great approach game and his lack of distance will not hurt him here. I expect another top 10 this week if not a top five.
- Hudson Swafford ($7,300) -- Swafford has two top 10’s and another top 15 here at Waialae Country Club. He is accurate off the tee and has decent APP numbers as of late.
Jordan Spieth or Justin Thomas probably wins but are too expensive for a balanced cash lineup.
GPPs:The goal is to hone in on players that not many people will be focusing on this week. To win a GPP against 50,000 other entries, you need to diversify as much as possible and take risks with the golfers you choose.
- Ollie Schniederjans ($8,300) -- Ollie is best known for being one of the only guys on Tour to not wear a hat while playing. We haven’t seen him for quite a little while now, so he’s had plenty of time off to rest and recover. He just missed out on a win last year at the Wyndham and has a chance to get his first PGA Tour win this week in Hawaii.
- Luke List ($7,500) -- Luke had a career year on Tour last year making it all the way to the BMW Championship. Just missing out on Tour Championship, Luke will look to get there this year. He’s made 4/5 cuts in the new season missing the cut in Mexico at the OHL Mayakoba. Plenty of time to rest and recover since then, his long ball off the tee should help him reach the par 5’s with ease, and have plenty of wedges in on par 4s.
Not keen on Daily Fantasy Golf? Well Tour Level also offers some great betting and hedging strategies! For those strategies and more, visit us at tourlevelfantasy.com!