EDITOR'S NOTE: This story originally ran in October 2015, ahead of the season-opening Frys.com Open. But Rob's lessons are good for the whole season. To join the game for the 2016 portion of the schedule, please click here.
As hope springs eternal for touring professionals at the Frys.com Open, gamers likewise can embrace the reset to zero as the 2015-16 PGA TOUR Season begins. And with the turnover of a new campaign, PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf driven by AVIS has undergone enhancements and a serious upgrade in prizes for its first full season at PGATOUR.COM.
This primer updates you on what's new and what was learned in the 20-tournament launch last season. Also, see below for my four-point plan on how to succeed in the game. It's a lot easier than you think.
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The new PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf driven by AVIS season gets under way at the Frys.com Open. Sign up now to compete with the web's first fantasy game to utilize ShotLink data for live scoring. PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf driven by AVIS
If you're new to it, the objective is to total as many game-specific points as possible in a tournament. With the aid of ShotLink in most events, points are awarded and deducted based on results of almost every stroke and score. Your select six golfers for your team and start four. You're then allowed to make lineup changes before every round. Bonus points are awarded to all golfers in your starting lineup in the final round if they collect FedExCup points. (This includes the equivalent of FedExCup points for non-members.) You can even create your own leagues. In addition to long-form explanations of game play, eligibility and the such, you can review how points are tabulated in Rules at fantasygolf.pgatour.com.
There are four nearly equal segments. The first consists of 10 events while the last three are comprised of 11 each. All gamers are allowed up to three starts per golfer per segment. Because FedExCup points are quadrupled in the Playoffs, it'll be wise to holster the top talents in the final segment for the Playoffs to increase your scoring.
Prizes are awarded to weekly winners, the top two in every segment and to the top three for the season (consisting of 43 tournaments). Every weekly winner will received a $50 gift card to a PGA TOUR Superstore. Segment winners get a Titleist driver, while segment runners-up are rewarded with a Titleist putter.
The season-long champ will win a prize package that has an actual retail value of $16,000. It includes a bevy of outstanding bennies, including custom club-fitting at TaylorMade's Performance Lab, a new set of TaylorMade clubs, rounds for you and three others at both courses at TPC Sawgrass, merchandise credit, dinner with a PGA TOUR pro and all of your travel needs for a two-night stay. Gamers who finish second and third are also spoiled with an assortment of goodies. See Prizes on the game page for the entire array.
Assuming that all of that works for you, there are four simple steps that you can take to contend.
• Obviously, there's more than enough incentive to play whenever you want, but if you're serious about that grand prize, then play every week. If a gamer takes even one week off, it could cost him or her the title. By the time the FedExCup Playoffs roll around, you'll be thrilled that you played them all.
• This seems like a given, but stay on top of your lineup during tournaments. There aren't any hard numbers to quantify what it cost gamers who didn't adjust for missed cuts, mid-tournament withdrawals and disqualifications as well as potential bonus points last season, but the anecdotal evidence reviewed was compelling enough to include its value here. So, it's worth restating that bonus points equivalent to 1/10th of FedExCup points earned are awarded only to the golfers in your starting lineup in the final round. The higher your golfers finish, the more FedExCup points they earn and the more points you score. It's a direct correlation to success in every tournament.
• For the eight tournaments at which ShotLink scoring will not be used, the bonus for FedExCup points will be one-half (not 1/10th) of actual FedExCup points earned. As an example, if you have the winner of the Farmers Insurance Open, which is one of four tournaments played on multiple courses, instead of 50 bonus points (or 1/10th of 500 the tournament winner gets), you'll be credited with 250. That will pile on top of the points totaled for the scoring-only distribution (Table A in Rules). Because the first three majors are included in this new wrinkle, it suggests that it's worth saving a start or two on the elite as they chase the game's most coveted trophies.
• There were two valuable lessons in the wake of how the scoring for every stroke unfolded in 2014-15. First, and as it was intended to reveal, the game off the tee carries the most weight as compared to the other two skill categories (approach and short game) in the aggregate. This is to say that if you load up on bombers, your likelihood to succeed increases. The other lesson is to dismiss scrambling as a predictor. The points structure doesn't fairly represent a tight chip or pitch after missing a green in regulation. This elevates putting as the primary component to the short-game category.
PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf driven by AVIS is available on every mobile device. If you haven't already, you'll find it to be extremely user-friendly. Meanwhile, returning gamers will find that you can revisit all of your lineups from the 2014-15 season. Sort by tournament, segment and year on the My Teams page.
As always, I'll have insight and advice in my weekly Fantasy Insider. My lineup will be included in the revamped Expert Picks. Both features publish on Tuesdays.
PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf driven by AVIS segment breakdown
SEGMENT I (10 events)
Dates Event October 15-18 Frys.com Open October 22-25 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open
October 29-Nov. 1 CIMB Classic November 5-8 WGC-HSBC Champions
November 12-15 OHL Classic at Mayakoba
November 19-22 *The McGladrey Classic
Hyundai Tournament of Champions
January 14-17 Sony Open in Hawaii
January 21-24 *CareerBuilder Challenge
January 28-31 *Farmers Insurance Open
SEGMENT II (11 events)
Dates Event February 4-7 Waste Management Phoenix Open
February 11-14 *AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am
February 18-21 Northern Trust Open
February 25-28 The Honda Classic March 3-6 WGC-Cadillac Championship
March 10-13 Valspar Championship
March 17-20 Arnold Palmer Invitational
March 24-27 *Puerto Rico Open
March 31-April 3 Shell Houston Open April 7-10 *Masters Tournament
April 14-17 RBC Heritage
SEGMENT III (11 events)
Dates Event April 21-24 Valero Texas Open
April 28-May 1 Zurich Classic of New Orleans
May 5-8 Wells Fargo Championship May 12-15 THE PLAYERS Championship May 19-22 AT&T Byron Nelson May 26-29 Colonial Invitational June 2-5
the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide
June 9-12 FedEx St. Jude Classic
June 16-19 *U.S. Open June 23-26 Quicken Loans National
June 30-July 3 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational
SEGMENT IV (11 events)
Event July 7-10 The Greenbrier Classic
July 14-17 *The Open Championship
July 21-24 RBC Canadian Open July 28-31 PGA Championship August 4-7 Travelers Championship August 11-14 John Deere Classic
August 18-21 Wyndham Championship August 25-28 The Barclays
September 2-5 Deutsche Bank Championship
September 8-11 BMW Championship
September 22-25 TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola
* Indicates an event that does not have ShotLink scoring available on all courses. A scoring outcomes-only system will be in place for these events.