How Do You Play Fantasy Golf?

Fantasy golf works on the same concept of other fantasy sports. Owners in a fantasy golf league get together to “draft” real professional golfers onto their golf teams. Every week throughout the golf season, each team owner will select a certain number of golfers to “start”. For that week, you track the stats of your golf starters and get fantasy points according to these statistics. For instance, you might get a certain number of points for a tournament victory, or a certainly number of points for a 10th place finish or so on. Alternately, you might be in a league which tracks birdies, bogeys and other specific stats in the golf scores.

Either way, your fantasy golf league sets up a scoring system and every team in the league follows the same system. Everyone knows the scoring rules before they draft teams, and they draft pro golfers accordingly. This puts every team on a level playing field. So you might be asking, how does a golf draft work and who gets Tiger Woods?

What Is A Fantasy Golf Draft?

A fantasy golf draft works much like a draft in the major sports leagues. First, you set up a draft order. This order is generally assigned randomly, either by drawing draft order numbers out of a hat or drawing numbers from a deck of cards. In either case, whoever gets the #1 has the 1st pick in the rotisserie golf draft (“rotisserie league” is just an old-fashioned term for a fantasy league).

The one difference between most fantasy drafts and most major sports drafts is the way the second round is ordered. Most fantasy drafts these days have a “serpentine” order. That is, draft order is reversed from round-to-round. If you chart the draft order on a piece of paper, the order snakes around like a serpent. So if you go first in the first round, you go last in the second round. If you go last in the first round, you go first in the second round (and therefore have back-to-back picks). This is supposed to even out the disadvantage of drafting last among the best golfers.


Many fantasy sports drafts these days use a modified serpentine draft order. Every other round, teams redraft their draft spots. They do this so everyone doesn’t get stuck in the same couple of draft spots throughout the entire draft. So you draft for draft order in the 1st-2nd round, then the 3rd-4th round, then 5th-6th round and so on.

This is less likely in a fantasy golf draft, though, because it’s not going to be nearly as long as a 20-round fantasy football draft or a 30-round fantasy baseball draft. After drafting 10 or more rounds in these other fantasy sports drafts, you get awfully tired of drafting behind the same guy every other round, especially when they keep wolfing your picks. As I mentioned, the modified serpentine or redraft fantasy draft is getting more popular, but still not as popular as the traditional serpentine draft. In my leagues, it always seems to confuse one or two people, which generally astounds me. (Guess those are the types of guys you want in your money league, anyway, right?)

Fantasy Golf Leagues

Most fantasy golf leagues are in the 6 to 8 player range, though I have heard those which include up to 14 and even 16 players. Some fantasy golf leagues will have as few as 3 or 4 team owners. I wouldn’t recommend anything less than 6 players, though, because the draft pool of golfers will be too deep and everyone will have a mega-roster of golfing superstars only. That takes a lot of the challenge out of fantasy golf and makes it mainly a contest of luck.

Having too many teams in your golf league is even worse, though. Teams that draft lower in the first round of a 16-team league will only be drafting the (theoretically) the 16th best golfer on the tour. Since golf is such a hit-or-miss sports and only the top golfers reach the kind of consistency to anchor a fantasy golf team, there will be a lot of teams that will instantly be out of the running. In my experience, a league of about 6 teams with 3 starters per week is best. This way, you’re starting the best 15-20 golfers every week and everyone has a chance to win, but everyone also has a bench of relatively talented golfers in case of injury or lack of activity.

For instance, think of Tiger Woods for a moment. Tiger only enters about 15 tournaments a year (even when he’s not resting from knee surgery). So if you have the #1 fantasy golf pick, you have to ask yourself whether you want to draft the best player for 15 weeks, or draft the 2nd-best player who might play close to twice as many tournaments. In a fantasy golf league, you’ll be starting a line-up every single week of the golf season, so drafting Tiger Woods might leave your team weak for the other tournaments throughout the year.

Doesn’t Fantasy Golf Sound Fun?

That’s a glimpse into the fun of fantasy golf. You’ll go throughout the list of PGA golfers, analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of each golfer. And when it comes time to watch the golf tournament on television, you’ll be able to enjoy the golf competition for its own sake, but you’ll always have in the back of your mind how the next shot affects you fantasy golf team’s results.

Whether for bragging rights alone or for a big wad of winner-takes-all money, fantasy golf lets you enjoy golf in a new way with your golfing pals. Have you always thought you knew more about the sport of golf than all your friends? With fantasy golf, you can challenge them to a golf knowledge competition to finally prove it once and for all.