If you’re looking for a detailed recap on golf at the Deutsche Bank Championship this past weekend, you won’t be entirely satisfied at the end of this piece. Unlike the other pieces I produced this season, this one is brief and conclusive focusing on not just one week, but the largely the season as a whole.
Before I move on though, I’d like to spread some love and thanks. First to DFSAlbatross, the projection gurus who have helped guide DailyRoto golf subs to boatloads of money this season. Quietly, these guys were also providing me with the data file that allowed for a more detailed look at market efficiency this season. Without their help, the recaps would have never been as useful as they were (if they were? hopefully?). Secondly, to all the members of DailyRoto’s “golf” Slack channel (with the exception of 2ToN). The crew allowed me to sort through ideas and presented feedback all season long.
With the help of others I was able to type a lot of words about PGA DFS, all of which you can read here.
Now what about some of the stuff I learned…?
About Market Efficiency
Lots of time has been spent talking about golf and variance. Early in the season, I attempted to identify trends in ownership through individual salary buckets. After toiling by hand for a weeks, that experiment blossomed into a meticulous, data heavy analysis that lasted the remainder of the season.
Initially I was trying to analyze the efficiency of the PGA DFS market. Cutting out all the academic babble, I was essentially trying to see if the highest selected players were actually the best performers. In a perfectly efficient market, this would be the case.
After analyzing a wildly inefficient market in week one, I tried to come up with some actionable analysis assuming that this trend would continue. Thanks to golf’s high variance and the DR “golf folks,” I came up with this hypothesis.
From Recap One:
[On inefficient markets]… if this becomes a trend, there will be a ton of value going contrarian in GPPs. Assuming the market isn’t much better than a random guess at predicting value, you could simply pick players based on expected low ownership levels and create positive expected value in a tournament setting.
Given the data I was provided and the results I was able to observe this season, I still support my hypothesis. But there are some things to remember about the PGA DFS market.
Some not super scientific conclusive takeaways:
- The PGA DFS market is largely inefficient.
- I haven’t studied any of the other major sport markets, but I’d venture to guess that no market is or will ever be as inefficient as the PGA DFS market.
- The importance of exploiting market inefficiency varies by price range.
- In short, trying to take advantage and create positive expected value simply by selecting projected low ownerships play has more importance at certain price ranges.
- From Setting the Stage for the Masters
- Although it is important to differentiate from the field in order to have a chance to win, it’s also important not to be too cute, especially above $10,000. Of all the tournament winning lineups used for this piece only two used a $10,000 golfer that was below five percent ownership. The most frequently distributed ownership levels for golfers above $10,000 on winning lineups was between ten and twenty percent ownership. Instead of feeling the need to differentiate at the top, winning GPP lineups are finding their separation at the lower salary ranges where players carry more variance than that which is already innately present in golf.
- The market is more inefficient or less efficient at the lower price points.
- Golf is full of variance at every salary spectrum, but more often then not the best are the best and the rest are the rest. What does that even mean? I’m not sure. But, what I’m trying to say is that, especially in the lower salary levels it is more difficult for the market to be efficient. This is where creating positive expected value and exploiting the market can be done effectively.
About Expectations, Scoring and Lineup Construction Strategy
Perhaps even more important than the market efficiency section all season was the information I learned about lineup construction, most notably in regards to lineup construction.
PGA DFS has two main lineup construction strategies – balanced and stars and scrubs. Balanced lineups attempt to squash as much variance as possible and take players from the middle of the salary spectrum. Stars and scrubs, or a bar-belled approach, focuses on selecting players at the bottom of the salary spectrum to allow for golfers from the highest salary tier.
While there are few questions to be drawn about the actual construction of these lineups, deciding what time it was most appropriate to use a respective strategy was the question I was trying to answer.
Now, having deciphered data and analyzed winning trends all season long, can I detect when it’s best to which strategy? If you asked me to evaluate my ability to discern the “proper” lineup construction strategy for a week on a scale of one to ten, I’d grant myself a seven.
Seven is confident, right?
Here is a quick how-to guide on deciding lineup construction strategy based on trends and analysis from this season of PGA GPP Recaps. ****Disclaimer: This is not a guaranteed way to create positive expected value in golf, but merely a set of directions to help guide you in lineup creation based on the analysis of successful and reoccurring trends in PGA DFS this season****
Step One – Don’t Be A Dumb-Dumb
Learn the tournament basics. Are there 150 players in the field? Are there 60? Is there a cut? Are all participants guaranteed four rounds of golf?
Each one of these small details goes a long way in determining which strategy is best suited, but they aren’t the only things that you should be trying to learn.
Step Two – Go to Night School
After you know the basics, learn a little bit more about the tournament. Where is the tournament being played? What course? How does the weather look? Will wind play a factor?
Step Three – Organize The Details, Build An Expectation
Assuming that you know everything about the tournament, start to build some small predictions or expectations for the week at hand. Will the course and weather cooperate to build excellent scoring conditions? Or is there an expectation that it’ll be difficult to rack up birdies and there won’t be much scoring?
Step Four – Pick A Winner
You have everything you need to know, now just apply it.
Low Scoring, Not Many Birdies Expected
- With less birdies expected from the field, the weight of the finishing bonus points on DraftKings, increases. In turn, the weight of a missed cut, decreases as those who do make the cut will be recording less birdies as compared to a week with average or better scoring expectations. (Here is an example of it with data from actual tournaments).
High Scoring, Expectation of Plenty of Birdies
- With more birdies on the table, the opposite is true. The weight of the finishing bonus decreases, and there is a greater importance on making the cut. That shifts the ideal lineup construction strategy, especially for cash games, to a balanced approach with an eye towards maximizing cut making probability and slightly decreasing the weight of finding the top of the leaderboard.
- This one is quite easy. Given that every player in the field is afforded the same amount of opportunity, there is no risk in embracing either strategy. Again default to the scoring expectations as a tiebreaker. If there is an expectation of high scoring, the weight of the finishing bonus will be lower than usual. If there is an expectation of not much scoring, finishing position increases in weight and given that there is no risk in a missed cut, stars and scrubs is the preferred approach.
There was plenty more included within the GPP Recaps this season, but these two points were the most important takeaways for me. I hope you were able to pick up a thing or two along the way this season. Thanks for reading, I’ll see you next season!