The Honda Classic was founded 46 years ago in 1972 and is usually the first of the Florida events in late winter following the West Coast Swing. The PGA Tour has started the Florida Swing here at Palm Beach and the Champion Course at PGA National for the Honda Classic for the last 10 years. Since 2007, the tournament’s main beneficiary is the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation, chaired by Barbara Nicklaus, wife of golf legend Jack Nicklaus.
The bottom line is PGA National plays extremely hard and features the Bear Trap, a stretch of three very difficult holes from Nos. 15-17. The course often resides within the top 10 for most difficult played on the PGA Tour and much has to do with the averaged wind speeds of roughly 15 mph.
Golfers also struggle off the tee because they are faced with average size fairways surrounded by lots of trouble if they miss. This setup intimidates players and the percentage of fairways hit will fall below 60 percent, the Tour average. This drives the tournament’s average driving distance down to just over 270 yards because players often hit less than driver to avoid the fairway bunkers in play on almost every hole.
The greens will feature Bermudagrass and are slightly above average in size relative to all greens played on the PGA Tour. The speed of the greens will run at an average speed of 11.5 feet on the Stimpmeter but are extremely narrow, making hitting them very difficult. Overall, less than 60 percent of all approach shots actually stay on the green, again a very low number on Tour.
Many of the green complexes are elevated, contoured and feature green-side bunkers; others feature water hazards and false fronts, which all adds to the complexity.
Course Preview: PGA National's Champion Course
Yardage: 7,140 yards
Average Speed: 11.5 feet
There are 12 par 4s this week, featuring an average distance of 416 yards, with the longest reaching a staggering 508 yards. Most approach shots will come from a distance on 134 yards and up, since many players will take less than driver off the tee. The four par 3s play an average of 203 yards and all showcase the import 175-225 yard proximity stat. The same goes for the two par 5s that are very scorable, featuring 31 eagles in total last year and have a likely second-shot proximity of 225-250 yards.
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!
As we mentioned earlier, this week we get the big money contests. $100,000 FIRST PLACE FOR THE $33 “DOGLEG” IS BACK THIS WEEK! Let’s look at what else is on the board:
- $1 entry “Hole in One” - $25,000 guaranteed - This 20-entry max tournament has a $25,000, winner-take-all first-place prize.
- $1 entry “Short Game” - $25,000 guaranteed - This 20-entry max tournament has a $1,500 first-place prize.
- $4 entry “Fore!” - $300,000 guaranteed - This 20-entry max tournament has a $25,000 first-place prize.
- $444 entry “Pressure Putt” - $400,000 guaranteed - This 30-entry max tournament has a $50,000 first-place prize.
- $12 entry “Albatross” - $50,000 guaranteed – This single-entry max tournament has a $5,000 first-place prize. The reason its great for beginners is that everyone is only allowed one entry, no matter your bankroll. There are at total of 4,967 entrants in this contest, and the top 1290 cash.
For more information on contest selection and strategy see our DFS-focused article titled “Against the Grain.”
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.
- Gary Woodland ($9,700) -- Gary took the week off last week and should come in well rested. I love to roster Gary on par-70 courses and he shows up fourth in the field in par-4 scoring. He is also ranked first in Strokes Gained Ball Striking and second in SGAPP. On top of all that, he was the runner up to Fowler here last year. We like Gary to return to form this week in West Palm.
- Adam Scott ($7,700) -- Course history play of the week. He won here is 2016 and seemed to have figured it out a little bit last week at the Genesis. I'm gonna hold my confidence in this pick to his SGAPP which is still 13th and his SGBS fourth in the field. This is enough for me to roster him this week given that we saw some type of improvement last week...or maybe just a harder course which in turn created more bogeys for everyone.
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.
- Blayne Barber -- He currently lives in Florida and that has been a part of the equation for success for many players here. He has a third-place finish here and he has not missed a cut. Barber is on record that he loves the greens. According to him, the greens are perfect and he also plays well with less-than-driver off the tee.
- Sergio Garcia -- The Spaniard has never missed a cut here and has three top-15 finishes. Combine some nice course history with his elite ball striking and, in turn, great Greens in Regulation (GIR) percentage, and we start to see a clear campaign for Sergio as a top-tier play this week. Why then we would we include such an obvious selection? Because he will likely go very low owned because people will gravitate to Rickie, Rory and Justin and given their price unlikely to include Sergio in the line-ups. He has the sixth-lowest scoring average on this course in the entire field and he costs a lot less to roster than the other three players, I would take the savings and build around Sergio, unless you believe in a Rickie repeat.
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!