Betting on golf: a brief guide

Golf betting can range from the simple to the extremely complicated. Taking a straightforward approach can build a solid foundation and help to get a good understanding of the principles of betting of golf.

The four major tournaments of golf are the Masters, the US Open, The Open Championship and the PGA Championship. Those are the pinnacle of the sport for any player to try and achieve success at. At the end of the season, there is TOUR Championship, the culmination of the PGA Tour Play Offs. 

On the European PGA Tour, the Race to Dubai is the big end of season festival with a massive prize fund. The biggest team event in golf is the Ryder Cup, a bi-annual contest between the USA and Europe where 12 players from each team compete for one of golf’s most coveted titles.

About golf betting

One of the most noticeable things about golf betting is the prices on offer in the outright winner market. They are often very alluring to novice punters. That is because even the favourite for a tournament may be running at 9.00 decimal odds for example. In other words, there are big prices to be found in a golf outright market.

That’s the same whether it is a major championship like the US Open or a regular seasonal PGA Tour event. The question is why? The answer is that the number of golfers that compete in a single tournament is huge. For example, the aforementioned US Open has 156 players in the field each year. 

That means if a punter picks just one player in the outright winner markets, that’s a 1/156 chance of getting it right. That’s a lot tougher of a challenge than making a 50/50 call of who will win a tennis match. But golf betting is popular and will continue to be because of the prices. The one advantage is that there is a wide variety of different types of bets to play in golf betting. That is what makes it accessible.

How to approach golf betting

Golf courses differ vastly in terms of what challenges they present to players. Some players prefer desert courses, some like the wide-open spaces of links and other pros will simply perform better when they are playing on the east coast opposed to the west. Some are big drivers of the ball off the tee, some are more restrained but excel at the short game in making approaches to the greens. It is a richly varied and very nuanced sport and it can be overwhelming for punters.

However, golf is a sport which is very heavily backed up by stats. Things like Greens In Regulation, Scrambling and Strokes Gained are the tip of a very big statistical iceberg in golf. Everything is measured and evaluated and thrown into a database.

For the keen eye, this is very helpful. Studying the stats that are available and applying them to golf betting can help narrow down a field. Of course, there are no are certainties to any bet, even if backed up by the strongest stats. But statistics can be a big tool to use to try and beat the bookmaker.

The more seasoned a punter becomes at golf betting, the more options will be found in alternative markets, some of which are explored below. It may be a simple option of utilizing each way bets or picking place finishes instead of going all-in on picking that one winner out of a big field.

Common Types of Golf Bets

Easy Way Golf Betting

After studying stats, you find a player who is in good form, one who has performed well at a certain course before and is a good price to back. But given the uncertainties of golf, an each-way bet could be utilised. An each-way bet is essentially, two separate bets (combined into one).

If you were to place an R10 each-way bet on Tiger Woods to win the Masters, that means you would need R10 on him to win and R10 on him to place, so a total of R20 to stake. A ‘place’ is a finishing position within a designed number of spots. That’s usually a top five on golf markets.

If Woods won the tournament, both parts of the bet would be paid out. If he finished third for example, then the bet would payout at a fraction of the original odds, say a quarter. The stake on the win would be lost, but some return would be gained from that place part of the bet.

Top 5, Top 10 etc

Backing a player to finish within the Top 5, Top 10, Top 15 or Top 20 for example at a golf tournament is a way to target more realistic odds and cut some risk. Instead of backing a player to win outright, there are options for them to come inside the Top 10 for example. Remembering that golf fields are huge, so instead of needing your player to finish in one exact position (1st), they have a broader scope of finishing positions.

Nationality Bets

This is a golf betting market which is worth exploring at tournaments. This simply is taking a look at the field seeing what the most common nationality among the main contenders is. You may have five South African players who are in contention going up against 20 key American players. So if you backed American to be the winning nationality, then any US player in the field being victorious, would see the bet win.

Head to Head

Such is the variety in betting nowadays, you can look at match bets between two players. There are very few actual top-level tournaments that are set up for head to head two-man matches. But bookmakers provide markets that create theses situations. You could take for example, Rory McIlroy v Brooks Koepka and the player with the lowest score out of them in that tournament, (regardless of finishing position) wins. The versus markets offer a nice variant on golf betting, in a form at that punters may be familiar with.

Versus the Field

Another alternative to the straight tournament outright winner is the Versus the Field bet. You may have for example, one or more players on which you bet (collectively) against the rest of the field. As an example, it may be Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods & Justin Thomas v the field. If you back the field against them, if any player besides one of those wins, the bet wins. This is the type of bet that can be addressed after rounds. For example, if McIlroy was four strokes clear of the field at the start of the fourth round, you could bet the field against him.

Golf is a sport that offers a massive range of bets on any given tournament. It’s that variety which makes it so popular. While the outright winner market is high risk because of the number of players involved, browsing around for alternative markets can make golf betting a lot more viable for bettors.

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