Fantasy sports have been around for years, but most people engage in the main “Big Four” major league sports (NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB) with the focus across America predominantly in football and baseball. With the growing popularity of golf all around the world, it was inevitable that fantasy golf would become a mainstay for fantasy players. For casual sports fans, some often hear the term and wonder – What is Fantasy Golf?
Although fantasy golf isn’t anything new – it has been played very quietly by mainly golf fans that would put together a small golf league or “golf pool” and play for a few bucks here and there to keep a side interest in the sport.
Fantasy Golf is like other fantasy sports; a pool of real life golfers is created and their stats and tournament results are used to create fictitious teams that allow you to score points based on how PGA Tour golfers are doing throughout the season. When I say picking a team, generally, in a fantasy golf league you are tasked with picking a certain number of golfers that you think will do the best over the course of a PGA Tour season or an event based on their real life results.
Many of these fantasy golf leagues are played by paying an entry fee and competing to win part or all of the collected prize pool. The prizes are distributed based on the number of league members and how much money was put into the prize pot to begin with.
That is the simplified version of what fantasy golf is.
How Did Fantasy Golf Start?
Although there is nothing official to attribute where it all started, Wilfred “Bill” Winkenbach is credited with having started fantasy football in the 1960s. He supposedly was known to have been playing a form of fantasy golf in the mid 1950s. It has been written that he learned the game from someone else, but because of his documented history with fantasy football…many give Winkenbach the credit for giving the push start to fantasy golf as well!
Types Of Fantasy Golf Leagues
There are two main types of fantasy golf games that the majority of us play: Season Long Fantasy Golf and Daily Fantasy Golf (DFS). Daily Fantasy Golf recently taken over as the most popular and most lucrative format of fantasy golf to participate in thanks to sites like Draftkings.com. Let’s break down the differences between the two main fantasy golf formats:
Season Long Fantasy Golf
Season long or full season…it can be called many names but in essence it is a game where you are picking a team of golfers for the full PGA Tour (or European or even Asian Tour) and at the end of the season tallying up the results to determine a winner. There are many types of full season golf leagues with the most popular being where you pick a team of 10 golfers with a fictitious salary cap of usually $20 million you select players based on their previous year earnings on the golf tour. After you’ve selected 10 players, their upcoming season golf earnings are added together and whichever fantasy golf participant who chose the team of golfers that earned the most wins the prize pool. Entry fees for this type of fantasy golf contest would generally range between $5 – $25 but could be higher depending on the number of participants and how much people feel most comfortable “wagering”.
Daily Fantasy Golf (DFS)
Most commonly known as DFS Golf, Daily Fantasy Golf became popular in January 2014 when the fantasy sports company DraftKings began running contests on their site. Ever since then, daily fantasy golf has taken off to astounding levels with millions of dollars given out each week to fantasy players. And, for the 4 golf Majors, millions of dollars are given out in just a single contest with a grand prize of $1 Million being awarded to the top fantasy golf lineup. The other top DFS site, FanDuel, joined a year later and began offering up large cash prizes for fantasy golf as well. Entry fees to enter a DFS golf contest range from free games (known as “freerolls”), to entry fees that range from $0.10 – $5000+ for a contest. However…unlike season long fantasy golf leagues, DFS runs over one tournament (and in some cases contests can run over just one day or 18 holes). Daily fantasy golf’s premise allows a person to either join a group of other fantasy players each creating a lineup for a specific golf tournament. Each player would put in an entry fee and the winner(s) would collect cash winnings each week…thus some call it “Weekly Fantasy Golf”. You can play DFS golf with as little as 2 people (head to head games) or in a large fantasy golf contest that could have hundreds to thousands of participants all submitting an entry fee with about 20% of the total participants winning some sort of cash prize based on how their lineup fares by the end of the tournament or round.
Unlike season long fantasy golf, DFS has its own scoring system to determine how successful each golfer is. Points are given on various criteria and vary from one DFS operator to another, but in general you receive a certain number of points for birdies, eagles, pars, and position in the final standings of the tournament. A golfer can also lose points for bogeys and double bogeys. Each player’s scores are calculated in real time and fantasy players can follow along online or on their mobile devices to see how their team and players are preforming.
Fantasy Golf Is Here To Stay
Now that we’ve answered the question “What is Fantasy Golf?”, some wonder if fantasy golf is here to stay. For some fantasy players it is more popular than NHL fantasy hockey and some even prefer it to NBA fantasy games since golf can run for most of the year from January until November. With the amount of money it generates for DFS sites, Fantasy Golf simply isn’t going anywhere!