Gambling 101- How To Bet Golf Tournaments

Brady Kannon

Tuesday, March 29, 2016 8:40 PM UTC

Tuesday, Mar. 29, 2016 8:40 PM UTC

The 2016 Golf Season is well underway and the sport's first Major Championship of the year tees off next week. Here are some insights on proper golf betting for the tournament.


Golf & Betting Go Hand-In-Hand
Golf betting has happened since the modern game of golf was invented in Scotland back in the 1400's. Who will score lower for the round, who will win the front nine holes, who will win the back nine holes.. both friendly and serious wagers have existed on the golf course between players since the beginning and continue to be commonplace in rounds played all over the world, every day.

What has become much more popular in recent years is betting on golf within the markets created by a Sportsbook and its patrons. Not the bets that go down between the players on the course but rather the outside observer or fan, wagering on how players will perform in a given match or tournament, just as this same fan might bet on the outcome of a football or baseball game - from the comfort of their lazy chair.

There are many different ways to bet on golf tournaments via aone of our top top sportsbooks but the two most common wagering opportunities are the futures market and head to head matchups created by the oddsmaker. The futures market is quite simple. Just as if you were to make a wager on what NFL team will win the SuperBowl before the season begins, you can bet on who will win a particular golf tournament before that event begins. The first Major Championship of the year is fast approaching, The Masters, and the betting odds have been out on who will win The 2016 Masters for nearly a year now. 


Let's Use The Masters Betting Lines
To help you get a better picture of how to place your picks on golf, let's take this past Masters tournament lines as an example.There are three favorites to win The Masters, the top three players in the world, Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, and Rory McIlroy are all at 7-to-1 to win the tournament (courtesy of The number 4-ranked player in the world, Bubba Watson is at 12-to-1 and the 5th ranked player in the world, Rickie Fowler, is at 15-to-1. 

Obviously, a $100 wager will return 7, 12, or 15 times this if your selected player was to go on and win The Masters. While I find these futures fun to play, I feel that it is much more difficult to see a return on one's money playing in this market. It is extremely difficult to predict who that one player will be that will win a particular golf tournament out of a field of typically 150 or so players. Personally, and many professional golf bettors will agree, that it is easier to turn a profit betting the individual head to head matchups that are created by the sportsbook.

In most of the golf tournaments played, on all tours all over the world, players are not competing head to head but rather against the whole field, trying to become the sole winner of the entire event. However, sportsbooks have created head to head matchups between individual golfers and have set odds as to who is the favorite and who is the underdog in terms of who will score lower over the course of the four days of the tournament. If we look back to our futures market examples, let's say that the sportsbook posts a matchup of Jason Day versus Jordan Spieth for The Masters and they have made Jason Day the favorite at -125 versus Spieth at +105. 

Again, this is not an actual matchup between the two players, it is simply created by the book for wagering purposes. The bettor must decide who they feel will perform better and end up with a lower score at tournament's end. Betting on Jason Day would require betting $125 to win $100 while siding with Jordan Spieth would mean wagering $100 to win $105. From a handicapping standpoint, I feel it is an easier task to handicap the two individual players against one another rather than playing the futures market, trying to decide who will be the winner of the event against a field of 150 other players or so. Granted, the return is not as large as correctly picking the tournament winner but it is almost like playing parlays versus a straight bet.. it is easier to have on correct betting pick in one matchup rather than correctly picking multiple contests and thus the odds are dictated accordingly.


Wagers Offered For Any Type Of Bettor
Like any sporting event, betting on golf involves proposition style wagering as well. A sportsbook may post odds on a player to finish in the top 20 of a tournament or to finish in the top 10. You might find odds on a player to make or miss the cut of an event. Often, especially in the Major Championships, you can find under/over on the total winning score for the tournament.

Whatever suits your fancy, the fact is that multiple opportunities exist these days for betting on golf tournaments. The primary PGA Tour Golf Season runs from January through September with a different tournament every week. Personally, I get involved in roughly 25-to-30 events during this span with four of these tournaments being Major Championships. It is only for the Majors where I like to take a shot at a few futures but otherwise, I stick to betting and handicapping head to head matchups as I feel this is where one can gain the greatest edge.

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