Quantifying Volatility in PGA DFS Part 2: Golfers with a 70 PRK Score and Below
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Image Credit: Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Scottie Scheffler.

From a top-down perspective, I’ve quantified a golfer’s baseline skill with my PRK Score. Last year, I backtested it through the 1995 PGA Season and it’s been pretty successful. The PRK is one of the main inputs in my simulator but there also has to be a volatility component. Otherwise, the simulator would just go straight chalk and we wouldn’t really glean anything from the simulations. My raw Power Ranking is a measure of how well a golfer does in each round. It’s adjusted for field strength and course, among other things. So, I’m measuring the standard deviation of that adjusted score over different time frames. Specifically, I’m looking across the last 24 rounds as a proxy for recent form and the last 150 rounds for long-term form. Depending on which golfer you’re referring to, the average real-time span of those timeframes are as follows:

  • Last 24 rounds = About two months
  • Last 150 Rounds = A year and a half

The question is how volatile of a golfer are we looking for. In this part, we’ll be deciding whether or not we should be targeting the less-skilled, more volatile golfers or the “cutmakers”?

Starting from the Bottom

The sample size of golfers between a 0-50 PRK Score is just a shade over 11,000. We should have a pretty good feel for how everything shakes out with this range given such an impressive sample. But, what should we expect from this range? Honestly, when using our optimizer I usually filter out golfers below 65 in PRK Score. Maybe that’s a mistake? If you’re playing any of these golfers, you’re likely to be diving deep into the salary pool on DraftKings, so what’s a realistic expectation? The bare minimum outcome we’re looking for here would be a made cut whereas a great outcome would be a top 10. For clarity’s sake, I split up each group in half for this research. One split is “recent” volatility[1] the other is “long-term” volatility.[2]

Volatility Group Top 10 Rate (L24 Rounds) Top 20 Rate

(L24 Rounds)

Made Cut Rate (L24 Rounds) Top 10 Rate (L150 Rounds) Top 20 Rate

(L150 Rounds)

Made Cut Rate (L150 Rounds)
More Volatile 5% 10% 35% 5% 9% 35%
Less Volatile 4% 10% 43% 4% 11% 43%

Golfers that head into a tournament at this skill level are very unlikely to finish high in a given tournament. When you look at recent volatility, the less volatile golfers make cuts at a slightly higher rate but the more volatile golfers hold a slight edge on chances at a top-10 finish. A similar trend holds true when you go back even further. Golfers that are at this PRK Score are unlikely to do much of anything, though, and shouldn’t find their way into your lineup that often. 

Golfers between 50 and 60 in PRK Score

We’re getting closer to golfers that would be in consideration for your lineups with this PRK Group. Again, though, these are going to be golfers that are towards the bottom of the salary scale and will typically be less popular than golfers higher up in price. Most of the time, there’s a reason for this lack of popularity, but if we can find edges as we work our way up the PRK Score, we’ll be able to leverage these into better plays regardless of which format you’re playing.

Volatility Group Top 10 Rate (L24 Rounds) Top 20 Rate

(L24 Rounds)

Made Cut Rate (L24 Rounds) Top 10 Rate (L150 Rounds) Top 20 Rate

(L150 Rounds)

Made Cut Rate (L150 Rounds)
More Volatile 8% 14% 44% 7% 14% 44%
Less Volatile 6% 14% 52% 7% 15% 52%

We see a similar phenomenon in this PRK Range when it comes to recent volatility. Golfers that are more volatile recently are more likely for a top-10 finish but less likely, overall, to make the cut. As we zoom out further to longer-term form, we see a better made cut percentage for the less volatile golfers. This makes sense intuitively. Golfers who are just slightly above average and are more consistent will make more cuts than the slightly above average golfers that have historically been all over the place. 

Golfers between 60 and 70 in PRK Score

Now that we’re climbing up a bit further in PRK Score[3] we’re going to change the outcomes that we’re looking for. Since these golfers are more expensive and will likely be a bit higher owned, we’re going to target a top-five finish as our ceiling outcome. 

Volatility Group

Top 5 Rate (L24 Rounds) Top 20 Rate

(L24 Rounds)

Made Cut Rate (L24 Rounds) Top 5 Rate (L150 Rounds) Top 20 Rate

(L150 Rounds)

Made Cut Rate (L150 Rounds)

More Volatile 5% 18% 49% 4% 18% 51%
Less Volatile 4% 18% 56% 4% 14% 54%

I hate to sound like a broken record, but we’re seeing a similar trend in this cohort as well. The slight edge in cuts made that we get from the less volatile group here is outweighed, in my opinion, by the T20 rates. We aren’t necessarily finding a bunch of top fives or winners in this range, but a top 20 can still pay off quite well from a golfer in the $7,000 range. 

Takeaways

If you’re going to roster a golfer below a 70 in PRK Score, you should be actively targeting the golfers that have been more volatile recently. This is especially true if you’re entering a GPP. A made cut with no upside isn’t going to help you scale the top-heavy leaderboards that come along with GPPs.

Footnotes

Footnotes
1 last 24 rounds
2 last 150 rounds
3 and DK Salary

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