Yes, it’s the official start to the PGA tour season with the new “Fall Series” format to the PGA Schedule with the Frys.com Open starting on 10/10. From a PGA perspective, I think it is a great idea. While I think the fields will definitely be thin with “elite” level talent and probably more importantly names, it gives the younger guns a chance at some exposure and more importantly gaining tour status.
From a Fantasy Golf point of view however, I am not so sure. At fantasyfairway.com, our fantasy golf leagues have always begun with the Sony Open in Hawaii. We actually even skip over the Tournament of Champions (which is a great event) because it has a limited field. We like to use that as a basis for advice and get a bit of a preview on the fantasy golf season, but we don’t include it in our fantasy golf game. With these tournaments beginning in October now, it’s worth a discussion as to whether to include them in the season or make it an optional season or just leave it alone. Let’s look at the pros/cons below.
Fantasy Golf Season Length
Let’s be honest, the fantasy golf season is pretty long. If you think about it in terms of fantasy football (by far the most popular fantasy sport) it’s nearly twice as long schedule wise. The NFL plays 17 regular weeks of football. The PGA tour (at least the non-Fall series) of fantasy golf runs 33 tournaments across 30 weeks or so. Even people that love the game and love playing fantasy golf sometimes hit peaks and valleys of engagement over such a long season. I don’t think adding another 7-8 weeks of tournaments will help that situation there any, even though I am sure there are the hardcore golf enthusiasts and fantasy players out there that would disagree.
Fantasy Golf Season Schedule
Also, at fantasyfairway.com (and probably most fantasy golf leagues out there) we stop our play with the last regular season tournament (i.e. no Fed Ex cup playoff events). The last few seasons that has been the Wyndham Championship. We’ve toyed around with the idea of ending play a week earlier with the PGA Tour Championship, it just feels right to end on the high of a major and that’s something we will continue to explore for the season length issue noted above, but also it just seems like a letdown tournament to me. You get so much coverage on a major, the payout is great and then you have the Wyndham to worry about. No disrespect intended for the folks at the Wyndham and it’s a great tournament, but again from a fantasy perspective, it just doesn’t feel quite right to include it. Which leads me to these tournaments for the PGA season. So we end the season with the Wyndham Championship, then we have 4 weeks of Fed Ex cup (which aren’t currently included in most fantasy golf games) and then we have Presidents Cup in odd years and Ryder cup in even years, then we dive right back into a season. So, if you did not include the Fed Ex tournaments you’d have only a 5 week off-season. I don’t think even the most hard core fantasy fans are ready for basically a non-stop full year commitment, although I think some football fans would disagree.
Finally, as mentioned earlier I think it’s great that the younger guys get a chance to be tour eligible, but I can’t image any big names committing to these tournaments with relatively modest purses. You’d be lucky to get Tiger, Phil, or some of the European stars to commit to less than the highest end purses during the regular season, let alone the time they have been accustomed to calling their “time-off”, time with family, etc. Looking at the field for this week, there are some notables there (full field at PGAtour.com – http://www.pgatour.com/tournaments/frys-com-open/field.html. Allenby, Angel Cabrera, Stewart Cink, Tim Clark, Goosen, Glover, Ogilvy, Vijay Singh are among other notables in the field. None of these are particularly surprising, they all have made names for themselves on the tour, but have struggled recently and are trying to improve their game or in some cases retain their status. As far as fantasy picks, I’m sure you could do fine with these guys, the field actually looks better than I initially expected, but no major star power and no clear favorite which isn’t necessarily a bad thing for golf in general or fantasy.
Overall, I think it’s something worth discussing but in looking at it, I don’t think at this point the fantasy golf world is ready to include these tournaments for play. It isn’t really enough tournaments to have a mini-game that would draw enough interest and lacks the big names to draw a huge fantasy crowd. I think it’s great for the PGA tour and giving younger player as well as veterans a chance to work on their game, get some exposure, and earn or maintain their PGA status however and at least for fantasy fairway, we’ll continue to monitor the popularity of the interest for inclusion at a later date. I would think this would work on a weekly league situation, but I would be a little surprised if there were enough fantasy golf players to really fill those leagues out as well. What do you think about the new schedule in general or in regards to fantasy? Make a comment on the blog or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me on twitter @FantasyFairway.com, Facebook, and google +.
Until next time – The Commish