PGA Fantasy Rules

Hey—a few people have asked how we run the world’s most complicated fantasy league. Be careful what you wish for…these are the league’s official rules for the 2016 season. It might be easier just to read Moby Dick.

NOTE: Gotta mention this up top. A member of our league, affectionately known as Cellraiser, has created a brilliant spreadsheet that actually links up to an online scoreboard and updates scores, points, and standings automatically. I have no idea how it works, but I do know that without it, running this league would be impossible (or at least wayyyy more time-consuming). I don’t want to sound discouraging, but the spreadsheet allows us to track how we’re doing minute by minute, and saves so much leg work, that it’s hard to imagine how any of this would work or be any fun without it.

THE RULES: 2016 EDITION

Scoring: Each week, by Wednesday at midnight, every team will set its roster on the official spreadsheet. This is a simple process: Activate seven players from a roster of ten that will be eligible to score that week (there are active, inactive, and bench spots on the pool spreadsheet that are easy to operate). Of a team’s seven active golfers, the four best scores will count each week. The combined score of the four players when the tournament is over is that team’s score for that week. So if your final four is Spieth (-2), Rory (-5), Fowler (-7), and Day (-10), your score for the week is -24. Great work! And great job with the draft.

At the end of each week’s tournament, we’ll have a final leaderboard. Your points for that week will be assigned based on your finish. For a normal PGA Tour event, the points will go from 12 (first place) to 1 (last place). For the Players Championship, it will go from 24 points (first place) to 2 points (last place). For the majors, it will go from 36 points (first place) to 3 points (last place). Each week, there will also be a bonus for a team win, either 2 points (regular event), 4 points (Players), or 6 points (major). In weeks with a WGC event, the scoreboard will be divided, and the WGC event will go from 18 points down to 1.5, while the concurrent Off-WGC PGA Tour event will go from 6 down to 0.5. Team winner bonuses will be 3 points for a WGC, and 1 point for the Off-WGC event.

Points accumulate throughout the season, and the three teams with the most points make the podium, while the winner earns the title of regular season champion and takes home the St. Andrews Quaich—the most coveted prize in the league.

Cut Penalty: If you don’t have at least four players make the cut on a given weekend, your score for those empty spots will be the worst final score in the field among players who did make the cut, plus a five-stroke penalty. If you don’t have seven players eligible for a tournament, that’s fine, you’ll just have to start your best six (or five, or four) and ride with them. If you don’t have four players starting a tournament, your fourth (nonexistent) player gets that same penalty. To add and/or bench players on a week-to-week basis, see the “Waiver Wire” and “Bench” sections.

MDF Penalty: If one or more of your top four players falls prey to the secondary cut (MDF = made cut, did not finish), the penalty is the highest final score among any player who made the cut, plus two penalty strokes.

Withdrawals: If a player withdraws at any point before his second round begins (note that this includes Friday morning, unlike last year), you have a one-time free pass to substitute a new player from the inactive spots on your roster (players on the bench are not eligible). If the player withdraws after he has started his second round, it’s like getting cut, no substitutes allowed.

Ties: In the case of a tie in the standings, points will be split between the teams tied, the same way prize money would be split in a normal event.

Player Win Bonus: Along with the bonus for earning a team win (+2, +4, or +6, depending on the tournament), there will be an individual champion bonus. If a player on your active roster wins a tournament, you get a bonus—+2 in a normal event, +4 at the Players Championship, or +6 at a major—along with 3 points at a WGC event, and 1 point at the Off-WGC PGA Tour events.

Player Top Three Bonus: We’ll be rewarding teams with player who finish in the top three. One point in a normal event, two at the Players, three at a major—along with 1.5 at a WGC, and 0.5 at a PGA Tour events opposite a WGC. Ties included.

Points diagram:

Team no. 1 Points Team no. 12 Points Team Winner Bonus Player Winner Bonus Player Top-3Bonus
Major 36 3 6 6 3
Players 24 2 4 4 2
WGC 18 1.5 3 3 1.5
Regular 12 1 2 2 1
Off-WGC 6 0.5 1 1 0.5

Combination Weeks: When WGC events occur simultaneously with off-WGC PGA Tour events, each team’s roster will be 12-strong, as the two bench spots will be opened up and made active for the week. It is up to each team how they want to load the roster, but in the WGC events, there are no cuts, so as long as a team starts four players, they won’t suffer a penalty. In the Off-WGC event, only the top three players will count toward the team’s score, rather than the top four. A cut penalty will apply. Because the benches are open for these events, two-week waiting periods are waived, and teams will reset their benches after the event, at which point the two-week waiting period begins anew (see bench rules below).

Special Events: Occasionally, throughout the year, there are non-standard events. The rules for those events will be clarified here.

The WGC Match Play Championship:

1. Every golfer, regardless of how far they advance, gets 1 point for each round robin victory.
2. Golfers who make the Sweet 16 and are eliminated get 2 points.
3. Golfers who make the Elite 8 and are eliminated get 4 points.
4. The golfer who finishes fourth gets 8 points
5. The golfer who finishes third (there’s a consolation match) gets 10 points.
7. The golfer who finishes second gets 13 points.
8. The champion gets 16 points.
9. Note that a golfer doesn’t accumulate points as he advances. So the champion will get 16 points ONLY, not 2+4+8+16. This is for balance.
10. As usual, you can have up to seven golfers in the field, but only your top 4 count.
11. Each team’s points will be tallied, and then we’ll assign scoreboard points in order from 18 down to 1.5, like a normal WGC.
12. The usual team and player bonuses apply.
13. A player who loses all 3 group stage matches gets a -1 penalty. Same goes for any team with fewer than four players…-1 for each open spot. This is a substitute for the cut penalty.

The Olympics

 This is an Olympic year, and the Rio tournament runs simultaneously with the John Deere Classic, which is a normal PGA Tour event. The scoring for the Olympic games will go as follows:

Gold Medal: Team with the gold medalist is awarded 15 points
Silver Medal: Team with the silver medalist is awarded 10 points
Bronze Medal: Team with the bronze medalist is awarded 5 points

The catch here is that the player must be on your roster in one of the seven active spots, which of course takes one player away from the John Deere lineup. Not coincidentally, the John Deere also hosts the semifinals of the PGA Cup in 2016.

Draft: A live draft, held in an online chat room, will determine the initial rosters of all 12 teams. The draft order will be randomized (this is set to change in 2017, when a yet-to-be-determined weighted system will be employed). Any team that can’t send at least one representative to the draft may submit a preference list. A team that has no representative and no preference list will automatically draft the highest available player from the 2014-15 PGA Tour money list. Each team will draft ten players, leaving two bench spots open. At the draft, each team will have one minute to make a selection, at which point, if no selection is made, the team will again receive the highest available player from the 2014-15 PGA Tour money list.

Playoffs: The “regular season” will end after the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro in late August. That gives us about 30+ events in 29 weeks, three WGC events, and all four majors. The playoffs will be the same as the playoffs on the PGA Tour- the FedEx Cup. The eight top players in the standings will advance to the quarterfinals (the Barclays), the top four that week will move on to the semifinals (Deutsche Bank), and the two best will square off in the BMW Championship for the title. In the playoffs, there will be no team or player win bonuses—only the head-to-head score counts. For the Barclays and Deustche bank, the best four players will count as usual, but in the BMW Championship, due to the smaller field, each team will start a maximum of six players, and only the top three will count.

Playoff Ties: The highest individual player determines the winner. If this is also a tie, the second-highest player prevails, and then the third. In the unlikely case that the top three are all tied, the higher regular season seed advances.

The Waiver Wire: You may find that you need an extra player for a certain tournament, or just that there’s a hot player that’s not on a roster, and you’d like him to be on your roster. You have all day Monday to email me (or the acting commish, whoever it may be) the player you want to pick up. The waiver order for week one will be the reverse order of the draft. When you make a waiver acquisition on Monday, you go to the bottom of the list. The waiver order will apply only to Monday transactions. Once Tuesday rolls around, transactions work on a first come, first served basis, until the waiver wire closes Wednesday at midnight. Transactions on Tuesday or Wednesday don’t affect your standing on the following week’s waiver wire. If you add someone from the waiver wire, this obviously means you have to drop someone from your roster, who then becomes free game for others. You must note the player you’ll be dropping or benching in your request email to the commissioner.

Example Request:

1. Add Michael Putnam, drop Rory McIlroy
2. Add David Lingmerth, bench Jordan Spieth

The Bench: You have two bench spots. This is your 11th and 12th roster spot, and you can move a player there at any point. This is one way to clear a roster spot for someone you pick up off waivers. However, there is a bench penalty—once you bench a player, he is sidelined for two weeks. That’s two tournaments before you can move him back to your regular roster. You can still drop the bench player at any point into the waiver pool, but you can’t put him back on your own roster until the bench period is over. As with all other transactions, you can only bench a player officially Monday through Wednesday. (See the bench exception above in the “Combination Weeks” section.)

Clarification on the Bench Rule: Additionally, you can’t acquire a player from the free agent/waiver field without an open, non-bench roster spot. In other words, if you want to pick up Anthony Kim, but your roster is full of 10 golfers, you can’t simply take Kim and stick him on the bench. You can move someone from your roster to the bench and then add Kim, but the bench doesn’t count as an “open” roster spot for free agents.

The Keeper Bench Spot: If you want to keep a player who has spent at least eight weeks on your roster, you may use a one-time only keeper bench spot to free up roster space without releasing the player. Effectively, this is your 13th bench spot. This sidelines the player permanently, with no exceptions, for the rest of the season. It also locks him in as a keeper for the following season, which comes with obvious risks in terms of offseason injuries or other acts of fate.

The Keeper Rule (New for 2016): You may keep up to two players each year, under the following circumstances:

1. The player was not drafted in the first three rounds.

AND

2. EITHER
The player was drafted by your team, and finished the year on your roster (it doesn’t matter if the player was off the team at any point).OR

The player finished the year on your team, and you had him on your roster for at least eight weeks of the regular season, even though you didn’t draft him.

In order to keep a player, you will sacrifice the same pick in your draft from the round in which the player was originally selected. If a player was a fifth-round pick, for example, he will count as your fifth-round pick the following year, when you keep him. If you decide to keep a player that wasn’t drafted the previous year, that will count as your tenth-round pick.

If you want to keep two players who were drafted in the same round, you will sacrifice your pick for that round and the round above. Example: Both of your keepers were drafted in the fourth round in 2016. They will count as your picks for the third and fourth rounds in 2017. If you want to keep a player for a second consecutive year, the round of the pick that you sacrifice will go up by one. It will continue going up by one round each year, until the sacrificed pick reaches the second round, at which point the player goes back to the general pool. You can never sacrifice a second-round pick for a keeper. (Note: If a team keeps two fourth-round picks one year, sacrificing the third and fourth pick, they cannot keep both picks the following year, since it would require giving up a second-round pick.)

Keepers must be locked in a week before the draft with the league commissioner. These keepers will be announced to the league immediately, and during the ensuing week, both picks and keepers can be traded between teams.

Trades: Trades are permitted. They can be 1-for-1 or multi-player deals. The trades can be imbalanced numbers-wise, with 3-for-1-type deals. Be aware, though, that if you’re the team receiving more players, you may also have to drop or bench players to make room on your roster. Like the waiver wire, trades must take place Monday-Wednesday. Obviously you’re free to discuss them at any point, but they can only be executed on non-golf days. To ensure people trade in good faith, we have a 7/12 approval system. If six teams feel the trade is imbalanced or shady, it gets rejected. The length of the review period is not defined, and in extreme cases—for example, a Wednesday 11 p.m. transaction—a trade can be frozen in order to hold a vote. In cases like these, if a trade is approved, the teams can retroactively start the players for that week’s tournament, even if the tournament is already underway. Note that this has never happened in league history.

Trade Deadline: The Wednesday of the PGA Championship week is the final day before the midnight trade deadline. Afterward, you may still acquire and drop players, but any players dropped from any roster will not be eligible to be acquired by another team for the rest of the season. In other words, the acquisition pool is reduced to players that were not on any roster after that Wednesday.

Initial Waiver: After we draft, there will be no waiver activity before the first event. We’ll start up the first waiver wire, based on reverse draft order, on the Monday following the first tournament.

Roster Note: If you fail to set your roster before the players tee off on Thursday, it works just like any computerized fantasy league—you play with the roster from your previous week.

Money Payout: We have $1,800 total, so here’s how it’ll look:

$450 – Regular Season champion
$300 – Regular season second place
$150 – Regular season third place

$300 – Playoff champion
$150 – Playoff second place

$300 – PGA Cup winner
$150 – PGA Cup finalist

Democratic Socialist Tax, aka The Bernie Sanders Fine: If either the regular season champ, the regular season runner-up, the playoff champ, or the PGA Cup winner also wins another $300 prize, we’re taxing them at a rate of 50% for all money earned over $300 (or over $450 for the regular season champion). The taxed money will go in $75 increments, as available, to a team that has not won any other money, using this priority order: Regular season fourth place, playoffs third place, PGA Cup third place, regular season fifth place, playoffs fourth place, PGA Cup fourth place.

Cheaters: Anyone caught cheating forfeits their entry fee and will be booted from the pool.

THE PGA CUP: Back for a second year by popular demand, we will be holding a year-long Cup competition that runs during the season, to add some head-to-head spice while we’re competing in the the normal rotisserie style race for the league title and the elimination playoffs. The PGA Cup will be contested during normal golf weeks, where normal points are earned. It just happens that in a given week, you’ll also be matched up against another team in a year-long Cup competition. The format:

1. All 12 teams get placed into 3 random groups of teams. The first 3 weeks of the PGA Cup will feature round robin matches within the group, with all teams within the group squaring off once.

2. Based on the way the groups finish, every team is then re-sorted into three new groups.

Group A: Three first place-finishers in the groups, plus the best runner-up.
Group B: Two other runners-up plus the two best third-place finishers.
Group C: Last third place, all fourth-placers.

Again, there will be three weeks of round robin matches within the groups to sort out positions.

3. The bracket. The format for the Cup bracket can be viewed below. The basic gist is that ten teams make the bracket, but there are huge advantages for the best finishers in the best groups. The notation is easy: A1 = first place finisher in group A from the second round, C2 = second place in group C, etc.

There will be 11 weeks of Cup matches. The featured tournaments will be (playoffs in italics):

Northern Trust Open, Valspar Championship, Houston Open, RBC Heritage, Zurich Classic, Byron Nelson, Memorial, Quicken Loans National, Canadian Open, John Deere Classic, Barclays.

Here’s the bracket:

The Hunt for the Quaich begins at the Phoenix Open. Good luck,

—Shane

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