The Dustin Johnson Effect

One of the greatest things about the game of golf is its relative unpredictability. This is probably unfair, but in other sports, the code has been cracked [or at the very least, as close to cracked as possible]. In baseball, a .300 hitter is more than likely to hit .300. In football, a great RB against a weak run defense is probably going to have a good game. In golf, we are still waiting for that golden nugget, the one predictive metric that indicates the potential for success.

What is the Dustin Johnson Effect? It’s my golf-enabled twist on pyrrhonian skepticism, an Ancient Greek philosophy centered on how people digest information and gain knowledge. Seems simple enough, but what Pyrrho suggest is that people, and the masses are typically wrong. People’s starting point to understand information is wrong and that sometimes the best path is to go against the prevailing narrative.

The Dustin Johnson Effect? Take a look at this year’s US Open. Dustin Johnson was owned in more than 25% of DraftKings lineups. In my own one-and-done home league, almost 50 guys (35%) took DJ for the US Open. And why not? The course was perfect for him. He was the defending champion. He never misses a cut at the US Open. He seemed like the safest play in the field. Every major golf site was pumping DJ as the pick. What happened? He missed the cut.

Why? I don’t know, neither do you. It is easy to play Monday Morning Quarterback and point to the fact he had missed the cut at the Memorial two weeks earlier, that he hurt his back while wasted falling down the stairs at the Masters. Maybe he just sucked? What I do know is that this happens a lot. How many people picked Sergio to FINALLY get over the hump at the Masters? Did anyone see Si Woo Kim coming in to win the Players? My point (or lack of point) is that nobody has found that secret sauce for golf-so what does that mean for this blog? Let’s revisit my friend Pyrrho.

From hedge fund mangers to poker players, nobody can predict a result, but what you can is put yourself in the best position to get lucky and more importantly, reduce your risk. Last year, I picked Brooks Koepka to win the US Open (pat-self-on-back), but why? He didn’t seem risky to me. He had made of ton of cuts, has great history at US open courses, plays tough courses well, and most importantly, wasn’t too hyped up. Frankly, I knew his ownership would be down and was overshadowed by the stars in a big event. Is it a sustainable strategy to ying while everyone else yangs? Probably not, but who carried more risk going into the US Open? Brooks or DJ?

The goal of this blog is to plow a path through the narrative and find golfers who are in a good position to be successful. We’re also going to try and finally find that predictive metric that could indicate future success. Frankly, the paint-by-numbers content in the fantasy golf world is tired and we feel doesn’t satisfy the needs of the golf community. It’s too convenient to look at a big golf course like Erin Hills and claim Dustin Johnson as the pick. DJ won’t win you a golf millionaire maker if 25% of of entries also have him picked. We’re going to dig a little deeper, try a little harder, and frankly, we don’t care if we’re wildly wrong some weeks because in the end we’ll be right.

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