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Post Series: Betting on Golf

Love golf or simply want to tap into the lucrative market of betting on the sport? You’ve come to the place.

As with betting on any sport, it’s imperative that you learn to walk before you run. From understanding the game itself, to the golf betting markets, common strategies, and other key elements, those preparations are the key to ensuring your returns are above par.

Here all you need to know before placing your first wagering on the next big PGA golf event.

The Rules Of Golf (From A Bettor’s Perspective)

Golf is an incredibly skilled sport that even the professionals spend a lifetime trying to master. Thankfully, the scoring side of the sport could not be easier to understand. While some tournaments, especially charity events, may include team play, the events you’ll bet on are almost exclusively individual events. The one notable exception to this is the Ryder Cup, which is a biennial contest between Europe and the United States for the most iconic prize in the sport.

Generally speaking, though, golf is a game in which the players attempt to complete a course of 18 holes in the lowest amount of shots possible. On any given hole, the lowest number of possible shots is one, otherwise known as a hole in one. However, each of the 18 holes will have a ‘par’ figure, which represents the expected number of shots, which is usually between three and five, needed to complete the hold. When you add the 18 numbers, this gives you the ‘course par’ figure. This will be in the high 60s or low 70s.

Scoring in golf takes two main forms, and understanding them is a vital first step for all bettors:

Stroke Play: The scores from each hole are added together to provide a course finish total. So, if you score a 68 on a course with a par of 71, the daily total is -3 or ‘three under par’. The idea is to gain the lowest possible score.

Match Play: Groups of players compete against each other, with each hold signalling a mini match. The person with the lowest score on any given hole gains a point (or ½ a point if two people get the lowest score). The idea is to claim the most points over the 18 holes.

Stroke play is the most common type, particularly for major PGA events. Meanwhile, those big events tend to be played over four days, with the scores of all four rounds being added together to discover the champion. Furthermore, players can go round the course in pairs, trios, or foursomes, with the matchups changing each day.

Therefore, as a punter, there are several terms that need to be known.

  • The Cut: After two days of play, half of the field is eliminated. This is known as the ‘cut’.
  • Playoff: If two or more players are level at the top of the leaderboard after four days of play, they play a one-off hole to determine the winner. If they draw, this continues until the deadlock is broken.
  • Front/Back 9: The front 9 describes holes 1-9 while the back 9 describes holes 10-18.
  • Round Score: A player’s score over the 18 holes on the given day rather than the four days combined.

Understanding the sport is a precursor to understanding the betting markets.

The Main Golf Betting Markets

The major PGA events carry a bigger field than virtually any other major sport. In a football match, for example, you can bet on the home team, away team, or the draw. Even in horse racing, the Grand National only has a field of 40. In golf, it’s common to have over 150 entrants. So, while you may want to bet on the winner of the event, understanding the other markets is essential.

As a new punter, these are the markets you should know.

Outright & Each-Way

The most obvious betting market by far is to predict the winner of an event. As with any sport, there will be favourites and underdogs. However, given the size of the field, it’s unlikely that you’ll get anything less than 5-1 on a pre-event bet. Therefore, if you can correctly pick the winner in at least one of every six tournaments, you’ll be destined to see profits.

Each-way betting is where half of your stake is placed on the outright win while half is placed on your chosen player to come in the top X places. Depending on the event, this could be anything from the top 3 to the top 8. The odds for this half of the bet will be lower (usually 1/3 or ¼ of the odds on the outright market).

Golf is one sport where even the favourites will provide fantastic ROIs – as long as they win. However, the safety net of the each-way selection may tempt you to bet on the mid-range players, particularly if they are in good form or have a good record on a specific course.

Tip: For the biggest events (majors), several bookmakers will extend their pay-outs on the each-way portion of a bet. For example, they may pay out on the top 10 rather than the top 6. Keep an eye out for these, especially when backing mid-range players and outsiders.

To Place In The Top X Players

Placing in the top 10 or top 20 is another common bet, especially when backing underdogs to perform beyond expectations. While the favourites like Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson will be odds-on for a top 20 finish, the likes of Ian Poulter may be over Evens.

Whether it’s a top 10 or a top 20 finish, this market is far less risky. For anyone seeking slow and steady returns rather than a rollercoaster ride of long losing streaks compensated for by huge wins, this market is an attractive proposition.

Day Leader

If betting on the entirety of a four-day event doesn’t appeal, the day leader market may be a better solution. This simply means betting on the person that will be leading by the end of the day. If they are tied at the top, dead heat rules apply, meaning the odds will be split by two/three/the number of players tied.

This is a particularly popular betting market for those that want to take advantage of the weather and other variables that can impact a golf event. Furthermore, it can be a useful option when looking at live in-play betting markets.

Two/Three/Four-Ball Matchups

As already discussed, players go round the course joined by up to three players. Rather than betting on the winner of the entire field, you could simply bet on the winner of each group. Given that players are usually paired with those of a similar standing, they can be quite close. However, that does make for some pleasing odds.

Aside from backing the players you expect to do well, it can be a great way to lay those that you think will underperform. On another note, some bookies allow you to combine several selections in an accumulator.

Round Scores

The thought of betting a player to outperform others can be a little daunting, not least because your chosen PGA star cannot directly influence the performance of the field. When dealing with the big competitions, though, it may be possible to bet on the individuals score.

This could include several markets, such as ‘going bogey free on the front/back 9 holes’ or ‘total daily score’. The odds are unlikely to be amazing but the fact that your bet can’t be derailed by another player’s brilliance does make it an appealing solution.

How To Turn This Knowledge Into Profit

Understanding the markets will instantly help you think about the different strategies that can be utilised to win money on golf bets, not least with regards to single selections. To truly become a better bettor, though, you must also know how to achieve long-term returns.

That’s where variables, research, and finding the value come into play. Ready to take your betting strategy to the next level? Read on with the next blog post in this series.

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