Our golf handicapping expert breaks down the ins and outs on how to bet on golf, specifically the PGA Tour. Read on to learn the three main aspects of golf betting and expand your horizons and increase your ability to make a profit betting on sports.
The traditional American Tour or commonly known as The PGA Tour begins its season each January in Maui at Kapalua for The Tournament of Champions. The season ends in late September with The Tour Championship. Year in and year out, this amounts to roughly 40-tournaments or 40-different opportunities to bet on golf. Nowadays The PGA Tour also has what is referred to as the “wrap around season.” This is a series of 8-to-10 tournaments taking place during the “off season,” October through December. What’s more is you also have The European Tour running alongside The PGA Tour schedule. Many of the top golfers in the world also compete on this circuit and it also runs essentially year around, offering up nearly another 50-tournaments on which to wager. All in all, a golf bettor has roughly 100-events to choose from week to week over the course of a year, held at golf courses all across the globe.. and we didn’t even mention the ladies circuit, The LPGA.
Within each of these golf tournaments, there are three primary ways to bet.
The futures market or placing a wager on one particular player to win the tournament, with odds associated with this particular player – just as if at the beginning of the football season, you were placing a wager on an NFL team to win The Superbowl at 25-to-1. Every golf tournament begins with somewhere in the neighborhood of 150-players in the field. Typically, not every single player in the tournament is given odds to win but usually, 60-to-80 players are listed on the board. You will have the favorites, the second favorites, the long shots.. and then for those players that are not listed individually, you have what is called “The Field,” meaning if anybody wins the tournament that was not listed, it is “The Field” that cashes the ticket. For example, this would resemble a handful of players or a portion of the futures board, to win a certain tournament.
Dustin Johnson (7-to-1)
Jason Day (15-to-1)
Justin Rose (20-to-1)
Phil Mickelson (30-to-1)
Matt Kuchar (40-to-1)
Bubba Watson (50-to-1)
Lee Westwood (80-to-1)
Ernie Els (100-to-1)
The futures market can be a great deal of fun and can often yield big payoffs but it is also very difficult to isolate just one winner out of 150-golfers. It is a tough market in which to bet the big favorites because one is not getting much return on what truly amounts to picking a needle in a haystack. My best recommendation for betting golf tournament futures is to shop early. Often times you can get a player with betting odds at 100-to-1 or better who may be down as low as 25-to-1 come game day. Obviously, that selection still must win to cash the ticket but like any wager, capturing that kind of value is astute.
Head to Head Match-Ups are what most professional or experienced golf bettors spend their time handicapping golf tournaments. The sportsbooks will create mythical one on one match ups that only exist between the bettor and the book and not necessarily on the golf course in the tournament. Within the match up, a favorite and an underdog are determined by the oddsmaker with a price attached to each side. We will use the same players from above to create some sample head to head match ups.
Dustin Johnson (-145) vs. Jason Day (+125)
Justin Rose (-130) vs. Phil Mickelson (+110)
Matt Kuchar (-125) vs. Bubba Watson (+105)
Lee Westwood (-135) vs. Ernie Els (+115)
The winner of the matchup is determined by who scores the lowest over the course of the whole golf tournament, typically a four-day affair. If one player makes the cut and one player misses the cut, the player who made the cut is the winner before the tournament is even complete. If both players miss the cut, the player with the lowest score of the two is the winner. If both players finish with the same score, it is a push.
There are head to head match-ups for the full tournament and there are also head to head match-ups for each individual round of the tournament. The reason most experienced golf bettors opt for playing match-ups over futures is that it gives you a direct handicap opportunity. Player A vs. Player B. Like The Patriots vs. The Steelers. Break it down and see who you think will win. Very different from looking at the entire board of NFL teams and picking which one will win The Superbowl. Certainly, the payoff is not as lucrative but your odds of winning a matchup bet are much greater than picking one golfer from the field to win the tournament outright.
There probably one hundred “other” type bets out there that one can consider for a particular golf tournament but here are some of the more popular prop bets and smaller markets that you will see listed quite often and always for the Major Championships.
Winning Score UNDER/OVER. The oddsmaker will set a number for what is the projected tournament-winning score and the bettor has the choice on figuring it will be higher (OVER) or lower (UNDER). This may be listed as UNDER/OVER 12-under par or it may be listed as UNDER/OVER 276. Meaning the winning score will be better or worse than 12-under par for the tournament – or that the total cumulative score for the four days will be better or worse than 276.
Top 5, Top 10, Top 20. Usually, you will have two or three different markets of this type for a tournament. Like picking the Outright Winner, this is simply picking a player to finish in the Top 5, Top 10, or Top 20 of a tournament. To use our player examples again, Jason Day might be 15-to-1 to win the tournament but one may also be able to find him at EVEN Money to finish in the Top 10.
Top Finisher by Country. Again, another futures type market here where one is picking one player from the field but in this case the oddsmaker is breaking it down by home country. As an example, they might have “Top Englishman” to finish the tournament. The winner here does not necessarily have to win the golf tournament but just beat the people listed within the market frame, scoring lower than the other players or betting options.
Justin Rose (3-to-1)
Paul Casey (7-to-1)
Tyrrell Hatton (12-to-1)
Matthew Fitzpatrick (25-to-1)
Tommy Fleetwood (40-to-1)
Danny Willett (50-to-1)
All of these players listed above are from England and one bets on who they feel will score the lowest for the golf tournament. The same type of option might exist for “Top South African,” “Top American,” or even “Top Senior,” meaning who will score the best of the golfers 50-years old or more that are in the field.
Three balls and three-way betting. Golf tournaments for the first two days, usually have players tee off in groups of three. This is referred to as a “Three Ball.” One can make a bet here on which of the three players they feel will score the best/lowest – and this is for just the one round – the one round that day and nothing more. Three-way betting is a bit like Horse Racing where you are betting on a player to Win, Place, and/or Show. Also like Horse Racing, if your golfer does place in the top 3 spots for a tournament, you are paid more for a win (Win), less for a 2nd place (Place), and even less for a 3rd place (Show) finish.. but a win cashes all three bets and a place cashes for both the place and the show.
Finally, another proposition bet that one will often find for the Major Championships (Masters, U.S. Open, British Open, & PGA Championship) is a list of players with odds associated, to “Make” or “Miss” the cut. Again, using a few of the aforementioned players.
Dustin Johnson -1000 to Make The Cut
Dustin Johnson +650 to Miss The Cut
Phil Mickelson -500 to Make The Cut
Phil Mickelson +300 to Miss The Cut
Ernie Els -110 to Make The Cut
Ernie Els -110 to Miss The Cut
Like any sporting event, spending some time handicapping it and then placing a wager based upon your research, makes things that much more exciting when watching the action unfold. And when your thought process produces a winner ... well, that’s even more fun!