Local golf fans develop PGA fantasy site

Monday, April 8, 2013 at 2:05am

Chad Schmidt (Michael W. Bunch/SouthComm)


Chad Schmidt is willing to forgive some occasional confusion about the name.

His focus simply is to make sure that golfmanna.com is the answer to the prayers of fantasy golf players everywhere.

“A lot of people call us ‘Golf Mania,’ but as long as they get to the right website, we’re OK with it,” he said.

It is not as if there are a lot of other options. That’s the point.

Schmidt and Mark Mihal, friends from their days at University School of Nashville, founded the website in January 2012 and developed it with Nashville-based Atiba.

They were motivated by several unsuccessful attempts to find an online home for their fantasy golf endeavor, which has kept them and others connected as adults. These days Schmidt, 40, is director of marketing for Counsel On Call, a Brentwood-based network of lawyers. Mihal, 43, is a mortgage broker in St. Louis.

“We just never found a good, reliable website to host all of our stuff for us,” Schmidt said. “One year we’d find a website, and the next year the site would go out of business. The next year we’d do it manually, and all those kinds of things. So that kind of inspired us. We kind of kept joking, ‘How hard can this really be to do? We can slap a website together just for us.’

“That was the genesis of it, and we’ve gotten a great response. There are a lot more folks out there who are into this than we probably initially anticipated.”

Roughly 500 players took part in the site’s two primary games during 2012, and early projections are that 2013 participation easily will exceed that number.

In “One and Done,” players pick one golfer each week and get a point for each dollar that golfer earns. Golfers can be used only once per player during a season, and the PGA Tour schedule is broken up into two seasons, the first of which ends with this weekend’s Valero Texas Open.

There also is the “Majors Challenge” for each of the four traditional major events plus The Players Championship. The first of those is The Masters, which begins next Thursday.

The cost for all games is $19.99. Both public and private leagues are available. The site also contains original editorial content, including analysis by aspiring and former golf pros.

“We’ve got it set up to where we’re trying to give the die-hard fantasy golfers what they want but also make sure it’s not so overwhelming that a newbie to it, who likes golf and may play fantasy football or baseball or something, that they’re not going to be too intimidated, coming in here saying, ‘Oh, it’s too complicated, there’s so many stats in golf,’ ” Schmidt said. “It’s not like that. You just have to … pick the golfers you think are going to do well in a tournament. If they do well, you do well. It’s as basic as that.”

Players can win as much as $500 or $1,000, depending on the game. The financial aspect of the operation is permitted because of how the games are structured.

“There’s actually a pretty clear line in the law dividing gambling and fantasy sites versus games of skill or games of chance,” Schmidt said. “As long as you’re kind of following the letter of the law, which is setting your league sizes, and your payouts are not dependent on how many people are in the league and things like that, you’re fine with it.”

Much like the way he reacts when people mistake the name of the site, which is derived from the Biblical reference to the food that miraculously appeared in the wilderness.

“We wanted something that captured the idea that this is a one-stop place for golf conversations, articles, games — all that kind of stuff. … As long as there’s been fantasy football and baseball and those kinds of things, there’s been fantasy golf as well.”

It just has not had the same online presence.