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Course Management - Applying a strategic approach to a 162 game ROTO season using a Par 5 framework.

Course Management: A standard ROTO season from a par 5 perspective.

The 15th hole at the Riviera Country Club turns its lazy head to the breeze, watching the next group approaching in the 1947 Pro-Am golf tournament.

Roger Kelly, a young amateur with a wild streak holds the teeing honors. As he reaches into his bag for a 5 wood, intent on laying up early for a second shot approach around the dogleg, to the green, he hears the challenge.

''When I was your age, I'd drive myself right over them tree's and chip myself on for a birdie chance,'' says Sam Snead, known for having one of the sweetest swings in the history of golf.

Kelly, bucking up to the challenge, lines up and rips his drive arrow strait - into the dense forest that protects the green. His hole is finished.

''Course,'' says Snead, ''when I was your age them tree's was about 20 feet shorter than they are now.''

''I miss. I miss. I miss. I make.''
Seve Ballesteros describing his putt on the 16th at Augusta in 1988

Course management is one of the essential skills that a championship golfer must master if he is ever to earn his keep playing on the tour. Similar-il-ur-ily, managing a 162 game fantasy baseball season is a true test of a baseball fan's collection of skills.

Today we're going to look at the timeline of a fantasy baseball season, and the general philosophy you should employ on your way to a money finish. As there are specific stages in a fantasy season, it is vital that you are aware of what each stage represents, so that you are able to navigate your team through the predictable challenges you will face.

It's an objective based approach, with clear and measurable objectives.

A standard ROTO fantasy baseball season is a lot like a par 5 hole in golf. Its how the entire hole is played, that separates the maestros from the mulligan's.

''Swing hard, in case you hit it.'' Dan Marino

The Tee shot: Drafting Counting Statistics

In ROTO scoring the need to accumulate counting stats in your draft is of utmost importance. Players like Dan Uggla, Fielder, Dunn (in a former life), Gian-Michael'identitycrisis'Carlos Stanton, Bourne all gain value in ROTO leagues because of their impact on your counting stats. As well, Gio Gonzales, Gallardo, Bumgardner and Morrow (gulp) should be on many of your rosters, as they are reliable sources of valued strikeouts.

Remember, counting stats are much harder to acquire later in the season. Your goal in the draft is to stack your roster with power players and fire ballers early. By gaining distance on your drive you will be in a better position to make finesse decisions later in the season.

Snead's entire philosophy was centered on the second (or approach) shot, because that's where the best players will show what they can do. He called them the 'scoring shots'.

The Approach shot: Identifying break through candidates.

In the first 6 weeks of the season you are looking to have picked up a minimum of 4 players. These are players you've had your eye on during spring training who are proving themselves against major league talent. You've scouted them during the offseason, and now you have the proof.

Last year it was Sam Fuld, Tim Stauffer, Melky Cabrera and Curtis Grandersen that won fantasy championships in May for their savvy owners. In 2010 Jose Bautista was passed around more rosters than a bong at a reggae festival, and he ended up being the difference maker in many Championship runs.

This year's winning talents are out there, and your job is to lock them up once they prove themselves worthy. Is Liriano going to continue his Spring Training run of accuracy, will John Mayberry prove to be this years Gehrig Lite, is Moustakas going to find his ceiling early, will the artist formerly known as Alexi Rios ever catch up to a fastball again?

But the weak at heart don't win fantasy championships.

"That's a great shot. Especially with that swing." - David Feherty, CBS and Golf Channel announcer

The Short Iron approach: Manipulating cumulative stats at the All Star break.

Now is reward time, for your carrying Brandon Morrows pathetic control on your roster over the first 60|PERCENT| of the season. You can safely dump him now; he's no use to you anymore.

With a lead in K's, and a healthy rating in Runs, RIBs and dingers, it is time for you to start to shave the pork off your rosters and tighten up the preverbal ship. Your bread and butter for manipulating your cumulative stats are going to be Padres pitchers, Coors hitters, the solid Nick Swishers types in run producing line-ups, Giants bullpen arms, Tyler Clippard ratio's, and any and all cheap sources of average and WHIP you can find.

One play I like to make in this position is to trade your Weavers, Stantons and Nyjer Morgan's to those 6th place teams who are starting to panic. Melky Cabrera, Marlon Byrd, Ian Nova, Lohse and Doug Fister were your aces in the hole last year.

"The three things I fear most in golf are lightning, Ben Hogan and a downhill putt." - Sam Snead

The Putt: Poise and composure is the key.

80|PERCENT| of communication is nonverbal. At this stage in the year, 80|PERCENT| of fantasy success is poise.

You've ensured your counting statistics are well represented in the draft, you've found your break out candidates to put yourself in front of the field, and you've aggressively manipulated your cumulative stats in August. Now, you hold steady and look out behind you.

A waiver pick up here to thwart your competitor from acquiring a necessary piece for his stretch run, a trade to a competitor to deny your opponent a needed saves leader or speed bandit, or NL dark-horse starter.

You're hopefully playing defense at this stage in the game.

Managing a 162 game fantasy baseball season is not for the mild or meek. Aggressively accumulating counting statistics early, boldly grabbing emerging talent off the wire, and deftly managing your cumulative statistics late are essential skills that portend a successful fantasy season.

By employing this strategic approach you will be able to track your progress and adjust your course, while the other owners are blindly holding court over their ill managed rosters. Rosters that are neither goal orientated, or measurable in their status, are rosters that are playing in the dark.

Enlighten yourself. Employ a sound, reasoned approach toward your fake team?s season.

I hope you find this model a successful approach for you this season.

Happy gambling folks.