Fantasy golf: a complete guide (and why you should be playing it!)

What is fantasy golf?

Fantasy golf isn’t as well known as the marquee fantasy sports, like the NFL and Premier League football. But while those two are generally geared to season-long epics where you use your limited substitutions to piece together a squad as the year progresses, or frantically hit the waiver wire as lesser-known players explode on Sunday night, fantasy golf has an immediacy that makes it potentially more exciting than both.

On a basic level, it’s a game that can be played as much as you want, either across the whole sporting year, or simply just for a weekend. Play on and off over the course of a season, or challenge your friends on a weekly basis: the choice really is up to you.

There are a few variations – including whether you’re playing for money, or just playing for respect – but the core principles of the game remain the same. You have to choose a team of players (sometimes four, sometimes six or higher), and there is normally some kind of constraint in place. Usually this is a budget or salary cap, with the better players costing more money; but sometimes you might only be able to use the Jason Days and Jordan Spieths a select number of times before they get locked out of your lineup.

Depending on how your team performs throughout a championship or across the year, you’ll earn points. The point system varies from game to game, and some, like Draft Kings, offer bonus points for stringing together birdies or avoiding bogies. Regardless of the system, the challenge is to find the diamonds in the rough: everyone knows the big names are going to do well, but it’s predicting when the lower-ranked and cheaper players will punch above their weight that will put you over the top.

These players are called “sleepers” – a term adopted by fantasy sports and used to describe players who might look ordinary or average on the surface, but who are actually set to put up big numbers, if you’re quick enough to add them to your lineup.

Everyone knows Jordan Spieth will play well at most championships, but he'll eat up a huge chunk of your budget

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How do you play?

The best thing about fantasy sports – and golf is no exception – is that it injects a thrilling sense of excitement into every single game, whether you’re invested in it or not. If Spieth is marching ahead to an unassailable lead and you’re not otherwise invested in the championship, then you might not have much reason to care about the runners up. But when you have a fantasy golf team, you care about every single player. Every shot means that much more.

You might be thinking that so far fantasy golf sounds a lot like simple sports betting – but it’s so much more than that. Yes, you can put your money where your mouth is and back your team with money, or else enter leagues where you have to pay to play. But the difference is in the detail: in fantasy golf, you’re not just betting on players, you’re going up against other individuals who have selected their own teams, so you’re playing a match of your own.

So with that in mind, how do you play? Well, it really is quite simple: you just have to score more points with your team of players than the other people in your league do. Whether you’re playing against one person in a one-on-one showdown, or playing against a full table of opponents, that will never change.

The exact scoring changes from system to system and website to website. I’ll go into the different games in the next section, but let’s take Draft Kings as an example, because it’s this variation that’s the most prominent across the web. Here’s how you’ll rack up points if you play there:

If you want to get your hands on the fantasy golf cup, you're going to have to find the hidden gems in the rankings

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Best fantasy golf websites

Some websites are free, and on some you have to pay to play – but even these are relatively cheap, and there are so many people playing that the winnings can be huge. I’m going to break down some of my favourite fantasy golf websites here, but if you want another opinion, check out this great list.

If you want to get practice, or have a few friends together and want to battle it out for respect on the virtual course, it’s probably best to hone your skills on a free-to-play website. Otherwise, getting involved in a paying league can see you earn big money from very little investment.

5. Yahoo Sports fantasy golf

Free

Yahoo offers a simple and easy-to-use structure to play fantasy golf, and best of all – you don’t have to pay a penny! Simply select your team and square off against your friends or colleagues. You can even make use of the fantastic research features to get instant reports on every player.

4. Today’s Golfer fantasy golf

Free

Today’s Golfer has a fantastic version of the game, with a terrific lineup of prizes available for the overall winners. You can even win weekly prizes! One of the most fun things about Today’s Golfer fantasy golf is that there are a few different options available. If you want to play the usual weekly game, you can, but you can also create your own private leagues with friends, or enter a knockout cup, which offers its own set of prizes if you emerge victorious.

3. PGA Tour fantasy golf

Free

This is a simple game, with no drawbacks – it’s free to play all season and you select a new foursome every week. Where does the challenge come in? Well, you can only choose a certain player a maximum of 10 times all season. Jason Day may be your first choice, but once you’ve had him in your team 10 times, he’s locked out FOREVER. Even though it’s free to play, there are great prizes available, and as it’s hosted by the official PGA website, the stat updates and information on hand are brilliant.

2. Fantasy League golf

£15 entry fee

Pay your entry fee, and you are put in charge of selecting and managing a squad of 12 real life golfers throughout the course of an eight-month season. They play their European and PGA Tour games, and you reap the rewards. There are over £20,000 worth of prizes to be won, including £5,000 cash and a holiday for the overall winner.

1. Draft Kings fantasy golf

Paid and Free

Draft Kings is my number one choice for fantasy golf, because it’s a HUGE site with thousands of players, and you can win real money on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis depending on how you want to play. While some fantasy golf games require a long commitment, there is none of that here. It’s such a popular site that it’s set to pay out over $1 billion in prizes this year alone!

Best Fantasy Golf Online: Draft Kings


Fantasy golf tips

So you’ve decided all this sounds wonderful, and you want to give it a go? Well luckily for you, there are dozens of great websites out there dedicated to giving you the latest news and tips, so you can stay ahead of the curve and increase your earnings.

One of the best sites I’ve found for fantasy golf strategy and advice is Golf Strat, which has compiled links to every corner of the golfing web. They have player profiles, power rankings breaking down each player as they progress through the week’s games, and a host of other useful advice.

Draft Kings offers a PGA cheat sheet with insight into upcoming championships, course information, and breakdowns of all the key players ahead of the games you need to know about.

The PGA Tour website itself often provides in-depth analysis for fantasy golf, including articles on the most-picked players so you can see what other people are up to, and make changes to your lineup based on expert picks.

Lastly, magazine sites like Golf Digest are starting to focus on fantasy golf a lot more these days, and they sometimes put up articles like this, focusing on sleepers ahead of big games. It’s well worth reading around, so you can select the players most likely to earn you a win – whether you’re playing for cash, or just playing to rub it into your mate’s face at work the next day!

If Fantasy golf is just that and you prefer, like me, to have  a "flutter" on the big tournaments the best site I have found for this is William Hill. Golf betting online with the top bookmaker William Hill Canada seems to have the best service and odds that I could find.

Enjoy!​

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