Betting on golf is the ultimate sweat, but you need to understand the basics before jumping in. Action can last for 18 holes or an entire four-day tournament, and there’s an abundance of ways to wager on the sport.
At first glance, the sheer number of players in a given tournament can make the prospect of betting on golf seem daunting.
That’s where we come in! We are here to help narrow your focus and provide the key information you need to start making smarter golf bets today. These are the golf betting basics you can’t go without.
How Courses Make a Difference
One of the golf betting basics to consider each week is the course where the tournament is taking place.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that long courses favor players who hit the ball far off the tee, while shorter courses level the playing field. Courses with tight fairways and small greens favor accuracy, while tracks with large green complexes place more emphasis on around the green play, 3-putt avoidance, and lag putting.
Trying to determine if a player is a good fit for the course may seem impossible, but with the vast amount of player info and stats on the PGA Tour website, you can actually narrow down your favorite selections quite quickly. The key is researching the course and identifying which key stats show up consistently among the top finishers year-over-year.
Does Course History Matter?
The most hot button topic in golf betting circles is the course history debate. It’s impossible to ignore the track records of certain players on certain courses (both good and bad), but course history probably matters more than the naysayers believe, and less than the truthers claim.
It’s worth considering course history as part of your research, but don’t make it the most important thing you look at each week.
Golf Betting Basics: Know the Types of Bets
The most popular type of golf wager is an outright bet to pick the winner of the tournament ahead of time. Remember that tournaments include player fields that can be as large as 156 players, making this a very challenging line to hit correctly.
Thanks to the long odds, picking outright tournament winners is the only type of bet where you can turn a small investment into a giant profit. It’s also the quickest way to burn through your bankroll. Most serious golf handicappers avoid outright wagers altogether, and focus instead on top-20 bets, or 2-ball and 3-ball wagers.
A top-20 bet is just as it sounds; you pick one golfer to finish 20th or better in a particular tournament. The payouts aren’t as great as an outright bet, but the market is not as efficient and there’s often value to be found. We recommend avoiding the tournament favorites as their top-20 odds won’t be long enough to justify the opportunity cost. Focus instead on players with more favorable odds, who fit the course well and have flashed strong recent form.
A 2-ball or 3-ball wager involves backing one golfer in a head-to-head match up versus another (2-ball), or versus both players in his or her group (3-ball). These bets can be made for a single round or the duration of the tournament, and allow you to focus your research on a much smaller pool of players.
Biggest Considerations and Most Common Mistakes
One of the best ways to beat the golf betting market is to choose a strategy and stick to it. Whether that’s betting 2-balls, 3-balls, or top-20s, find out where your strengths lie and work on perfecting your approach.
There are amazing tools available to help you along the way, and I suggest relying on projections supplied by industry leaders if you can afford them. If not, than lean heavily on the strokes gained metrics provided on the PGA Tour website. These are a great free resource and can help you identify where a golfer’s strengths lie and how well they’ve been playing.
As for mistakes to avoid, remove outright betting from your weekly spend unless you accept that it’s most likely a losing proposition in the long run. It’s incredibly difficult for even the most skilled golf handicappers to show a long term profit trying to pick winners, so focus on the other styles of wagers mentioned above.
One key statistic to weigh less heavily in your research is putting. It’s by far the most volatile part of any golfer’s game and it’s not uncommon for a player’s success rate on the greens to vary wildly from one day to the next. Focus on the repeatable skills like ball striking. Over time, players who consistently gain strokes on the field off the tee and on approach will score well because they’re constantly giving themselves makeable birdie looks. I’d much rather bank on that skill than rely on a golfer to make every single 15-foot putt.
There’s Never Been a Better Time to Bet on Golf
Now that you understand how to effectively bet on golf, it’s time get some action down. Remember to avoid the temptation of trying to strike it rich by betting outright winners, and focus on two-ball and three-ball betting, as well as top-20s.
For more strategic betting advice for golf and other sports, check out the rest of the articles in our how to bet on sports section.