Golf betting may not seem as thrilling as putting down cash on a three-team parlay on a Sunday afternoon in the NFL. Yet as more and more venues for live wagering on sports become available, golf betting is rising rapidly to become one of the most popular types of sports wagering. It’s simple to understand why golf betting has become so popular: the sport has long shots, analytics, and a year-round schedule.
The global market for sports betting is expanding rapidly. The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) was rejected by the United States Supreme Court in 2018, sparking a new wave of legalized sports betting. Bets totaled about $6 billion in my home state of New Jersey in the year 2020. Betting on golf is on the rise throughout the nation, despite the fact that football still attracts the vast majority of bets.
For most of my life, I had been in an environment where sports betting was commonplace. On Sunday mornings at a restaurant in Jersey, I would watch as the dads of my friends circled their NFL choices on America’s Line in the Daily News. In the summer, I would spend my days at Monmouth Race Track, where I would learn to read the programs and handicap the races. There was a lot of work to do before I could see a PG-13 film. When I was eighteen, I rode the bus to Atlantic City to learn about bankroll management from the elderly women who frequented Billy’s Poker Room.
Over time, I developed become a competent sports bettor. Early on, I focused only on college football, but eventually expanded my betting to include many other sports throughout the year. In order to make the most efficient use of my time, I have gradually reduced the number of sports on which I place wagers throughout the years.
Keeping track of basketball lineups and line changes went out the window when my wife and I had triplet children. I’ve narrowed my betting focus on golf since the season lasts almost all year and I can use that time to do my research and be ready. I believe much of the same ideas apply to golf betting as they did when I was in high school, when golf was portrayed as a “life sport” that could be enjoyed for the rest of one’s life.
Taking the odds into account
In the United States, golf wagers are presented as odds with a plus (+) or negative (-) sign. To illustrate, the chances on Dustin Johnson winning a tournament would be +600 if he is considered a favorite. On Sunday evenings when he has a commanding lead, his odds can drop to -400. If you placed $100 on Johnson and the final score was +600, you would get $700 (your initial wager of $100 plus $600). Late on a Sunday, betting Johnson at -400 means risking $400 to win $100. In the event that Johnson held on for the victory, you would get $500 back into your account (the $100 win plus the $400 wager).
The odds for a tournament are sometimes shown as a ratio in Europe and other parts of the globe. If Johnson is the betting favorite, the odds may read 6/1, which translates to “6 to 1.” If Johnson comes out on top, your wager of $1 will return $6. If I bet $10 that Johnson would win at 6/1, I’d get $60 back plus my initial $10 investment.
Bankroll Budgeting and planning
Any serious gambler should know this. Everyone has a unique amount of money available to them, but the principles of budgeting still apply. In order to keep playing during losing streaks without becoming broke, a player needs a bankroll. I recommend putting away an amount, whether it’s $1,000 or $100, that you’re willing to risk losing.
I think you should tell your significant other as well. The dishonesty that results from gambling debts is the fastest way to destroy a marriage or other connection. Even though I budget for the changing of the seasons, I am aware of many others who also include a monthly allowance for personal spending. I don’t care whatever you choose, so long as you don’t take out a payday loan and promise to pay it back later.
For my betting cards, I utilize units rather than dollars. It’s a holdover from my days as a poker player and casino gambler, and it helps me keep score. A good rule of thumb is to not risk more than 5 percent of your weekly bankroll on any one golf wager. Due to the inevitable losing streaks, long-term planning is essential.
As such, you must account for it in your preparations. You should modify your betting strategy if unexpected life events need you to use some of your bankroll to pay for other expenses. If I usually bet $100 each week but had to spend $500 on a new air conditioner for my home, I’ll need to adjust my betting strategy and just wager $50 per week until I can replenish my funds. Although it seems elementary, it is surprisingly simple to lose track of your money.
Bets on the outright victor
As a general rule, the payouts for tournament winners are more appealing to the ordinary gambler, but I should warn you that it is difficult to win outright bets. On any one week of the PGA Tour, there might be anywhere from ninety to one hundred and sixty-six players competing for the title. Of course, there are certain players who have a lot greater chance than others, and it’s up to the bettor to decide whether the odds are worth taking. Odds are mostly determined by the betting public and how popular a player is, so it pays to keep tabs on the latest golfing trends.
There’s a common saying on the PGA Tour that a golfer will earn 90% of his career earnings in only 10% of his events. I could be somewhat paraphrasing it, but the argument still stands for those who gamble solely on sure things. It’s important to understand how to manage your money and stick with it through the rough patches since you might spend weeks or months without cashing an absolute victory bet. You should spread your betting card around. Safeguard your bets by selecting props and matches that you know you can win. I’ll go back to those possibilities shortly.
Unlike the NBA and NFL, golf does not have a gambling business that relies on injury reports. Before a competition, tour players may suffer minor injuries, such as a sprained wrist or pulled back muscle, and only a select few will know about it. When selecting golfers, you must realize that you will only see a partial picture and must complete the puzzle anyhow. When a player pulls out due to injury, you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself. You shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket, betting on just one golfer, since accidents can happen.
Every week is different when it comes to how I put up a betting card full of sure wins. There will be weeks when I bet less on golfers but for a larger sum because I believe the odds are higher for the favorites. If I believe that only Justin Thomas (20/1) and Jon Rahm (12/1) and Patrick Reed (22/1) have a chance of winning, I may not include them on my card.
I would ordinarily spread my betting card out with smaller bets on longer shots (say, $5 or $10) and larger bets on the favorites (say, $20 on each of two or three of them), but in this case I would utilize the money I saved by not betting on the further shots to instead wager on the favorites. I’d put down $30 or $35 on the three golfers instead of $20.
When betting on an outright winner, I never, ever try to recover a loss. Victories cannot be coerced. It’s not a good strategy to increase your bets by a factor of two or three when your bankroll is already tight. This might easily end in tragedy, so please exercise caution.
Proposition wagers that pay both ways
It’s tough to choose outright winners. Betting each way on a golfer is a possibility at several sportsbooks. For betting on golfers with longer odds of winning, they are useful. You may, for instance, wager $10 on a long shot to win at odds of 100-1, and then wager an additional $10 on him to place in the top five, with the each-way payout being equal to one-quarter of the original odds.
Each betting establishment has its own rules for what constitutes a “each way” wager. If you finish in the top eight, six, or five, with or without ties, you may get odds that are one-fourth of the original. It’s in your best interest to investigate your betting alternatives and choose the one that seems most promising to you. That’s when you should start looking about at various sportsbooks and maybe even using your credit card to make some wagers there.
Take this recent each-way wager as an illustration. Stewart Cink’s odds to win at the RBC Heritage were 125 to 1. After two previous victories in the Masters, he was coming off a strong performance. Although I thought he would win at those odds, I was nevertheless interested in cashing in if he failed to seal the deal at age 47 on a Sunday. For this reason, Cink was given an each-way top five (including ties) odds of 30-1 at the bookmaker I frequent.
Moneyline wagers on the first-round favorite
The first round of a golf tournament is completed, and you may place a wager on which player you think will be in the lead. The chances may fluctuate somewhat from the odds of an outright winner, but there is a significant link between the two, and you may have a higher chance of winning with a long shot if you bet on it.
Incredibly, there are particular days of the week when golfers typically post their best scores. When it comes to golf, some players are lightning quick off the tee, while others excel at the end. On Day 1, one player may have a great tee time to take advantage of favorable scoring circumstances, while another golfer you’d want to see succeed may have a terrible one. As the first-round leader, you should, therefore, avoid him.
My first-round leading bets tend to coincide with my winner bets, so I keep them on a separate card. For the 2021 Masters, I made many winning wagers on Jordan Spieth, but I didn’t back him to finish first since he was in the last tee time slot on Thursday. When choose which wave of players to join, it’s crucial to consider the weather forecasts in order to pick the best time to shoot.
When the first-round leads and ties are determined, the “dead heat rule” is often used by most bookmakers. If you bet an 80/1 golfer to finish the first round in first place, and he finishes in a tie for first with another golfer, your payment will be reduced by 50%. Therefore, instead of $80 for a $1 wager, you would get $40.
Placing Bets on a Proposition
Top-5, top-10, and top-20 bets are the most popular types of golf proposition wagers at U.S. sportsbooks. Outright win odds serve as a baseline for oddsmaking, but a sportsbook may adjust them up or down to encourage wagering on a certain player. Using Louis Oosthuizen as an example, if his odds to win the event are +4000, his chances of finishing in the top five should be set at +1000.
The bookmaker, though, may aim to entice additional punters by increasing Oosthuizen’s chances of finishing in the top five to +1100. Since he has a history of placing second in tournaments, he may be offered +900 to place in the top five. Knowing how to handicap these odds may make or break a bettor’s wallet.
There will be a wider variety of proposition bets offered at big events. There might be those that are based on nationality, such as the Masters’ lowly Englishman. Some others may be based on factors such as age or previous success. Examining one of them to determine whether it has any worth is usually a good time.
Wagers on the Future that Matter
Betting lines for the major championships may be established as far in advance as a year. The odds for the 2022 Masters, for instance, were posted a week after the 2021 tournament. Bettors must monitor the odds in order to get the greatest potential price when betting on a desired athlete. For instance, I anticipate a breakout performance from Scottie Scheffler as the 2021 season winds down. He started out as a 40-1 long shot to take home the Masters in 2022. I bet Scheffler at that price, anticipating that by March and April of 2022, his odds would be closer to 30-1.
These provide the most potential for accumulating a bankroll during the course of a season. Head-to-head betting pairings based on outright victory odds are often posted by bookmakers prior to an event. No wagering venue in 2021 will provide a head-to-head contest between Dustin Johnson and Luke Donald. If such odds were on the table, bettors would still bet Johnson at -2000 or worse.
Rather, you may be presented with odds like Keegan Bradley -115 and Brendan Steele +105. Steele and his opponent will have equal chances of winning the event, but you may want to select Steele in a head-to-head situation because of his hot performance. The odds are good that you’ll have to choose between Johnson and another popular player like Jon Rahm in a head-to-head wager, with you having to choose the winner based on your assessment of their relative chances of coming in first or second.
Before the Players Championship, I placed a wager on Justin Thomas at 20-1 odds. According to the data, he had a very successful competition in terms of ball striking. After a slow start, he blew a 17 on Thursday. The odds started to shift in his favor. The chances on his winning the event were 100 to 1 when he was still over par early in his round on Friday. In spite of the odds, I completely missed him since I wasn’t paying attention.
After making birdie on the 10th hole later on Friday, his chances of winning dropped to 40-1. He looked terrific and had three opportunities for birdies in a row, so I wagered an additional $20 on his victory. As for 17, I figured he’d have learnt his lesson from the previous day and not waste chips by bringing a huge number into play when it wasn’t necessary.
I can look at Max Homa’s performance at the Genesis Invitational to see how hedging my bets and profiting off of a player throughout a tournament may look like in practice. I thought Homa was in great shape going into the competition, but I didn’t back him to win it all. I had bet on short-priced athletes like Tony Finau and Dustin Johnson.
Although Finau and Johnson were in the running on Sunday, Homa was doing quite well and could be backed at 16-1 odds. Given that I had him locked up for a top 20 and top 10 finish, I decided to take a bigger risk than usual and bet $50 on Homa at 16-1 odds to win. If Finau, Homa, or Johnson won, I was guaranteed at least $450 from my win bets. Live betting made my week far better than it would have been if Homa hadn’t won in a playoff.
Live betting offers a wide variety of proposition bets, but you should be wary of the payout percentages. When betting in person, you often have to put up $1.20 or $1.30 to win $1 on wagers that should be close to a 50/50 wager.
Putting down some serious money on the line
The way most casual gamblers put money down on big championships reminds me of the way people go to the supermarket when they’re starving. Those ravenous customers are wandering the aisles, blindly shoving items into their carts, only to be met with price shock at checkout. The sheer number of prop bets offered by bookmakers during majors is enough to make even the most seasoned gambler feel overwhelmed.
For me, the trick is to approach a major like I would any other event. The only change is that I’m going to increase my bet by around 25%. I won’t risk a whole month’s worth of money in a single week. Professional golfers at the highest level prepare for big tournaments with the same intensity as Olympic athletes. For optimal performance, they plan ahead and organize their time.
Bettor etiquette dictates similar behavior. If you want to conclude the year with a profit from your wagers, you can’t only gamble on the main championships. When it comes to critical time, you have to put in the work, pay attention, and cross your fingers that you’re on the right track.
How to Make Smarter Bets with Data and Software
Golf is perfect for those who like to use numbers to guide their choices. Imagine yourself to be a baseball fan who relies on Bill James’s books to inform their judgments. Using ShotLink data, PGATour.com performs an excellent job of tracking players’ statistics across all categories. Mark Broadie, a professor at Columbia University, created the strokes gained idea in 2007 by analyzing publicly accessible ShotLink data. You may confidently divide up your players without worrying about a lack of shot connection data, which affects just a small fraction of events and courses.
There are consistent patterns in the statistics of every event that point to the players that do well there. There are more parallels between certain tournaments than others. Those that do well in the Arnold Palmer Invitational, for instance, are often top-tier drivers. You should take a look at the field’s strokes gained off the tee to determine which players are the best bets. Bryson DeChambeau, the 2021 tour leader in strokes gained off the tee, won this year’s championship, demonstrating the validity of this association.
It’s best to give less importance to strokes gained putting than other weekly statistics. Most golfers may expect some degree of randomness when looking at their putting statistics. Profits peak during their finest weeks on the course. You should concentrate your efforts on those golfers who are improving their performance from the tee box to the green, paying special attention to their approach shots. Those who thrive in that area have excellent ball control and can post respectable scores on a variety of courses.
Approach shot performance is rated in terms of the number of strokes gained. On par 4s and 5s, all shots other than those hit from the tee are considered approach shots, although they are not included into the calculation of strokes gained around the green or strokes gained putting. Even on par-3s, tee shots are considered approach shots.
Both approach shots from more than 50 yards and shots played to the green from danger on par-4s and par-5s are excluded from the statistics. These numbers interest me more than the final standings or the amount of money I took home. I need to know who is doing it and how they are doing it so I know whether I can trust on them again.
I would recommend being an Excel expert or paying for one of the numerous sites that compile PGA Tour ShotLink data to make it simpler to modify and develop models if you plan on engaging in golf betting.
Join a fantasy golf league and a one-and-done league, both of which come highly recommended by me. Even if you decide not to bet any given week, you can still enjoy either choice for the remainder of the year. There will be weeks when you either don’t see any value on the board or just don’t have time to handicap the field because life gets in the way. You can at least follow the action of the tournament whether you play in a fantasy league or a “one and done” league. You won’t enter a competition in which you want to place a wager without first researching the participants’ past results. Please hear me out on this.