Josh Culp

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Split the Surface: Bermuda

Thursday, December 21, 2017


In this two-part mini-series I'm going to break down some golfer splits based on the grass type found on the putting surface. 

 
First I will look at bermudagrass and then next time I will dive into bentgrass splits. These are the two grass types that account for the majority of events each year. 
 
If you are newer to fantasy golf you may be ignoring performance on grass types entirely. If you have been playing fantasy golf for a long time, you may be overweighting this information. If you hear quote after quote from a golfer saying he likes one particular strain of grass, it's easy to blindly follow the quotes. We want to match up those quotes with some data. 
 
There is a happy medium when it comes to surface splits, so let's see if we can find that and use this knowledge to our advantage in 2018.
 
I've been tracking data based on grass types since the start of 2014. For this article, I will take a very simplistic look at the data to see if we can find out golfers that are worth diving into and potentially targeting when bermuda courses come around. 
 
BERMUDA SCORE = Rank of Per-Round Annual Performance on Bermuda minus the Rank of Per-Round Annual Performance on Other Grass Types (Bentgrass, Paspalum, Poa Annua). I will do this for each of the last four years and if a golfer's bermuda rank is better than their "other" rank during that year then I add one to their bermuda score. Anyone that ends up with a net score of +2 or better will get shown in the lists below. 
 
To avoid small samples I will only look at golfers that played 30+ rounds on bermuda AND other grasses during each year. Since 2014, this amounts to a subset of 85-to-115 golfers each year. 
 
There are 24 golfers that have played the 30+ qualified rounds in all four years. Two of them have posted better stats on bermuda in each of the past four years. Those two golfers fall into the LOVES BERMUDA category which you'll find below. There is one golfer that is bermuda positive in 3-of-3 years that he qualified (Likes Bermuda Category) but first there are 20 golfers that have a bermuda score of PLUS-2. Let's see who they are...
 
Hints of Bermuda Leanings (+2 Bermuda Score)

2017: Did not reach 30 rounds on bermuda. 
2016: Did not reach 30 rounds on bermuda.
2015: Ranked 7th in bermuda performance, 36th on other grass types. 
2014: Ranked 17th in bermuda performance, 92nd on other grass types.
Summary: Perez is nearly 1/4 of a shot better on bermuda since 2014 but he clearly loves seashore paspalum surfaces as well, winning the OHL Classic AND CIMB Classic on that particular grass type. Perhaps that has to do with the graininess of both strands. As we go down this list, we will notice the link with paspalum is a common thread. 
 
2017: Ranked 20th in bermuda performance, 86th on other grass types. 
2016: Did not reach 30 rounds.
2015: Ranked 25th in bermuda performance, 44th on other grass types. 
2014: Did not reach 30 rounds.
Summary: This one makes a lot of sense considering he moved down to Florida early in his career to play on the Florida mini tours. He still lives in Florida where bermuda is king. 
 
2017: Did not reach 30 rounds.
2016: Ranked 8th in bermuda performance, 72nd on other grass types. 
2015: Ranked 39th in bermuda performance, 87th on other grass types. 
2014: Did not reach 30 rounds.
Summary: This is a case of a golfer's idea of his strengths not matching up with the numbers. At least in recent years. Back in 2016 at Colonial, Molder was cited saying the following, "I wait all year to get on bentgrass greens. We're finally here. I putted well last week. So for me, that's where I get my momentum." Basically, Molder is saying the complete opposite of what the numbers say (recently). He was born in Arkansas and went to Georgia Tech so it would make sense for him to play well on bermuda. However, we will consider this one an open case. 
 
2017: Did not reach 30 rounds.
2016: Did not reach 30 rounds.
2015: Ranked 24th in bermuda performance, 36th on other grass types. 
2014: Ranked 39th in bermuda performance, 74th on other grass types.
Summary: Has just four top 10s since the start of 2015 with three of them coming on bermuda. He's past his prime but he could be worth a look in DFS from time to time. It's probably best to limit those chances to weaker fields with bermuda greens. 
 
2017: Ranked 3rd in bermuda performance, 13th on other grass types. 
2016: Ranked 50th in bermuda performance, 8th on other grass types. 
2015: Ranked 5th in bermuda performance, 47th on other grass types. 
2014: Ranked 13th in bermuda performance, 35th on other grass types.   
Summary: Growing up, going to school, and still living in North Carolina, playing on bermuda is like second nature for Webber. 
 
2017: Ranked 33rd in bermuda performance, 36th on other grass types. 
2016: Ranked 6th in bermuda performance, 28th on other grass types. 
2015: Ranked 16th in bermuda performance, 28th on other grass types. 
2014: Ranked 27th in bermuda performance, 16th on other grass types.   
Summary: The Florida Gator has posted stronger numbers on bermuda in three of the past four seasons. The lone exception was his career year in 2014 where there was no grass type in the world that was getting in his way. He's still steady on all grass types but we still want to give him a little extra attention on bermuda. 
 
2017: Did not play any PGA TOUR rounds.
2016: Did not reach 30 rounds.
2015: Ranked 60th in bermuda performance, 88th on other grass types. 
2014: Ranked 25th in bermuda performance, 51st on other grass types.   
Summary: Lost his TOUR status ahead of 2017 and posted zero top 10s in 21 Web starts last year. While the stats show he favors bermuda, I don't think we'll be needing to use this information anytime soon, given his lack of status.
 
2017: Did not reach 30 rounds.
2016: Did not reach 30 rounds.
2015: Ranked 48th in bermuda performance, 73rd on other grass types. 
2014: Ranked 41st in bermuda performance, 67tht on other grass types.   
Summary: Looking at his ranks for all grass types, it's likely to limit our exposure to events with weaker fields. The perfect storm for targeting Flores would be a weak field played on bermuda. The Barbasol would have qualified in the past but maybe this year we'll have to wait for the Wyndham, which happens to be where he posted a T7 last season.
 
2017: Ranked 61st in bermuda performance, 62nd on other grass types. 
2016: Ranked 39th in bermuda performance, 71st on other grass types. 
2015: Did not reach 30 rounds.
2014: Did not reach 30 rounds.
Summary: Like Pat Perez above, we've seen Kizzire win on seashore paspalum. There is definitely a connection between paspalum and bermuda. As for Kizzire on bermuda, he said this while in contention at the 2016 Sanderson Farms, "I grew up playing Bermuda greens and Bermuda rough in a country club-type setting like this, so it feels like it did when I was a kid." On paper, it doesn't look like an extreme split, but definitely something to consider when looking for a tiebreaker in weekly leagues.
 
2017: Ranked 66th in bermuda performance, 81st on other grass types. 
2016: Ranked 40th in bermuda performance, 79th on other grass types. 
2015: Did not reach 30 rounds. 
2014: Did not reach 30 rounds. 
Summary: Six of his eight career wins have come on bermuda. He didn't technically pass my sample size test in 2014 (only 26 rounds on OTHER) or 2015 (only 28 rounds on bermuda) but he also was bermuda positive in both years. You could place Choi into the LOVES BERMUDA category as long as you put an asterisk next to it. 
 
2017: Did not reach 30 rounds. 
2016: Ranked 28th in bermuda performance, 66th on other grass types.
2015: Ranked 79th in bermuda performance, 108th on other grass types. 
2014: Did not reach 30 rounds. 
Summary: This is an easy one. He's thrived on bermuda tracks from the get-go. He's a Florida native and went to school in the South. Had this to say at the 2017 PLAYERS, "I'm a Florida boy, so I feel comfortable on Bermuda grass." This is a case where a golfer's quotes do match up with the stats. If he can solidify his TOUR status, his efficiency should soar as he'll be able to schedule events that are primarily on shorter courses with bermuda greens. 
 
2017: Did not reach 30 rounds. 
2016: Ranked 74th in bermuda performance, 88th on other grass types. 
2015: Ranked 34th in bermuda performance, 79th on other grass types. 
2014: Did not reach 30 rounds.  
Summary: Missed out on the sample size criteria by the thinnest of margins in 2014 and 2017 but would have qualified as bermuda positive in both. Much like K.J. Choi, we can boost him up two categories and put an asterisk next to his name. Loves Bermuda. 
 
2017: Ranked 37th in bermuda performance, 48th on other grass types. 
2016: Ranked 85th in bermuda performance, 86th on other grass types. 
2015: Did not reach 30 rounds.  
2014: Did not reach 30 rounds.     
Summary: This is one where I say NOT SO FAST. The Tennessee Tech product still lives in Knoxville. I'd consider that to be right on the fringe between bermuda country and bentgrass territory. That doesn't tell us a whole lot, but two of his three career wins have come on surfaces other than bermuda. His overall numbers since 2014 also show a slight leaning toward other surfaces. The method I use was a quick way to grab the data but this is one case where I'm hesitant to suggest he's a bermuda specialist. 
 
2017: Did not play any PGA TOUR rounds.
2016: Did not reach 30 rounds.  
2015: Ranked 92nd in bermuda performance, 102nd on other grass types. 
2014: Ranked 42nd in bermuda performance, 58th on other grass types.   
Summary: Again, we need to look at this example with some common sense. Using a four-year window, for BVP, we only have a 2015 season that showed him on the decline and 2014. Van Pelt still has a Top 50 in career earnings exemption if he wants to return in 2018 but I wouldn't get too excited, given his age and the long layoff since his last competitive round. 
 
2017: Did not reach 30 rounds.
2016: Did not reach 30 rounds.  
2015: Ranked 86th in bermuda performance, 89th on other grass types. 
2014: Ranked 64th in bermuda performance, 83rd on other grass types.   
Summary: Hadley did not qualify due to sample size for the past two years but his bermuda stats were better than his "other" stats in both 2016 and 2017's limited samples. Like Choi and Boo, let's move him up a few categories and put an asterisk next to his name. Again, we also see the link between bermuda and seashore paspalum as Hadley's lone PGA TOUR win came in Puerto Rico on paspalum greens. 
 
2017: Ranked 46th in bermuda performance, 42nd on other grass types.   
2016: Ranked 71st in bermuda performance, 76th on other grass types.   
2015: Ranked 6th in bermuda performance, 90th on other grass types. 
2014: Ranked 35th in bermuda performance, 39th on other grass types.   
Summary: Over the year's he has earned the nickname of Bermuda Benny for a reason. That was largely based off the results from 2015 where he was top 10 in bermuda performance but 90th (of 110 qualified) on other grass types. Overall, he's added quotes that backup the claim that he enjoys playing closer to home on bermuda courses. Despite 2017 being very close in bermuda versus other, I would still give Martin a boost on bermuda venues. 
 
2017: Did not reach 30 rounds.
2016: Did not reach 30 rounds.
2015: Ranked 102nd in bermuda performance, 106th on other grass types. 
2014: Ranked 63rd in bermuda performance, 85th on other grass types.   
Summary: Stated it bluntly during the 2013 St. Jude Classic, "I was born and raised in South Florida.  I like bermuda." Without any PGA TOUR status, we won't get many, if any, chances to invest in Thompson this season. 
 
2017: Did not reach 30 rounds.
2016: Did not reach 30 rounds.
2015: Ranked 87th in bermuda performance, 100th on other grass types. 
2014: Ranked 80th in bermuda performance, 89th on other grass types. 
Summary: Grades out as bermuda positive but his overall ranks don't jump off the page. Playing out of the Past Champions category, we should expect another season with just 9-to-12 starts. Might fall into DFS flyer status if any of those events on against weaker fields on bermuda. Overall, he's easy to avoid from week-to-week, though. 
 
2017: Did not reach 30 rounds.
2016: Did not reach 30 rounds.
2015: Ranked 101st in bermuda performance, 103rd on other grass types. 
2014: Ranked 101st in bermuda performance, 102nd on other grass types. 
Summary: Somewhat similar to Merrick. Ernst will also be playing out of the Past Champions status (limited starts) and has low baseline ranks to begin with. Nothing to get excited about here. 
 
2017: Ranked 58th in bermuda performance, 59th on other grass types.   
2016: Ranked 56th in bermuda performance, 83rd on other grass types.   
2015: Ranked 35th in bermuda performance, 41st on other grass types. 
2014: Ranked 62nd in bermuda performance, 17th on other grass types.   
Summary: If we look at 2014 we see he crushed it on courses that weren't bermuda. Everything else has leaned bermuda. During the 2016 St. Jude Classic he said this, "So, being here in the heat, the bermuda grass the zoysia fairways and the town is very nice...it really is one of my favorite places on Tour to come." The 2014 results can't be ignored which is why he falls into this first category and not one of the next two categories...


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Josh Culp joined Rotoworld in 2014. The DFS enthusiast from Iowa State can be found on Twitter @futureoffantasy.
Email :Josh Culp



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