Golf is a glorious pastime enjoyed by legions of fans around the world, offering players both young and old the chance to get outdoors and enjoy a top sport with a history of rigorous competition.
Golf, played with a metal club and ball, has been established as a gentlemen's sport for many years. Developed in Scotland, it takes more than a heavy swing to get through 9-18 holes of green fairways, blistering sand traps, and tricky putting greens. It may not seem like much to wager one, but bookmakers see golf as one of the most profitable betting markets.
Whilst it's all too easy for the average player to spend their round desperately scrapping around the course, the sport's top professionals have taken the realms of consistency and shot-making to whole new levels. Competing across all corners of the globe on both the PGA and European Tours, golfers are tasked with a grueling season every year, albeit with impressive financial rewards.
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These two main tours are certainly the bread and butter for the majority of players, although the Masters, U.S Open, Open Championship and PGA Championship are arguably the most sought-after prizes in the sport, giving players the opportunity to cement their legacies. Combine this excitement with the biennial Ryder Cup and you've got plenty of opportunity to enjoy golf betting at all levels.
Perfecting the art of golf betting can be tricky, though, with its status as one of the most unpredictable sports in the world. Rarely a year goes by without an unknown outsider making a splash at the four majors, quickly sending thousands of odds-on betting slips down the pan. This isn't entirely negative though, with gamblers presented with a range of long odds for outsiders that genuinely have a realistic chance of taking home the title.
When betting on an outright winner for any golfing event, make sure you check both the player's recent form and the history of the course - certain players prefer different locations, so it's always good to look back at previous editions of the same tournament and identify patterns in the names of the top 20/30 players. It's also wise to check the attributes of each individual course to see whether particular players may be handed an advantage - a course with long yardage, for example, is prime for the sport's bigger hitters and may present value betting opportunities.
The weather is another important factor, giving you an opportunity to steal a march on the bookmakers by backing a player that performs well in certain conditions. This can be particularly useful when betting on a 1st Round leader, allowing you to capitalise on an average player's initial stroke of luck without having to back them all the way.
With long odds no longer a rarity in golf betting, it’s usually worth punting on each way, ensuring that you still manage to get your hands on a healthy payout even if your player doesn’t quite sneak into the lead. Match bets are another popular market, and this is where the bookies will pit two, three or four players against each other, giving you the opportunity to choose who will shoot the lowest score, either over an individual round or the entire tournament.
One of the few sports to be played almost 365 days a year, golf continues to bring in serious crowds from around the world. Golf betting is itself a burgeoning market – one that has benefited from the increase in television coverage of the sport in recent years.
Whether you want to place a straight wager on a golfer, play the field or bet a multiple-player there are plenty of chances for you to make par on your initial wager. A few different types of golf betting include future betting, head to head tournament betting, field betting and prop betting. Future betting allows you to bet in advance on a specific golfer playing in a tournament. Head to head betting can leave you biting your nails right up until the end as you wait to see who, out of two golfers, will finish better. Finally prop betting involves betting on anything that doesn't have to do with the final outcome of a tournament or round.
In the long term, punters can back the player they think will top the US PGA Money List or the European Order of Merit at the end of the season by accumulating the highest number of points. In the more popular short term, they can simply try to predict the outcome of a particular tournament.
For tournament betting, websites such as Paddy Power and Ladbrokes offer markets such as the option of betting on which group of players (normally five) will perform best throughout the contest. Such a market is excellent for those looking to back an underdog to perform well against the odds, but who hasn’t quite got the legs to go all the way.
Other new online bookmakers also offer the opportunity to bet on which players they think will make the cut. This, in a four day tournament such as The Open, is when the under-performing players drop out of the contest after two days, allowing the others to fight it out over the remaining two rounds. For example, at The Masters, players have to be either within 10 strokes of the leader’s score or within 44 places of the lead at the end of play on Day 2 to have a chance of continuing over the weekend. This market often throws up a few surprises, though its odds are generally fairly restrictive.
Obviously, the most common option in golf betting is backing the outright winner of a tournament. However, while it is easier to predict the leader in the overall PGA Money List because very few players have the consistency to perform day in, day out over the course of a season, tournaments are more difficult to predict. A player priced by online bookmakers at 50/1 could easily storm through the pack to take the trophy, Rory McIlroy, probably closer to 7/1, could easily be eclipsed. This market, then, is largely wisely ignored by most golf bettors, except for when a healthy bankroll allows for a little extra expenditure.
An each way wager is probably a better option when golf betting on a tournament; most bookies will offer returns for those who place in the top five or six. Take careful note that some online bookmakers will only offer a ‘place only’ market, meaning your choice has to come in the top two for you to regain any capital.
More niche markets include who will be on top after each round, who will register the most birdies/bogeys, which Brit/American/European will finish the highest and much more along these lines. Furthermore, punters will be given golf betting odds on how the rest of the field in a tournament fares against the best in the game – i.e. the top 5 in the current world rankings. This is the ‘Big Guns v The Field’ market, which could prove rather profitable if you back a member of the field to outperform the top players.
Golf betting odds, because of the unpredictable nature of the sport – especially in the short term – are usually long and highly profitable if the correct outcome occurs. However, outright markets are not always the easiest to get right, so more fun – and more profit – is likely to be had on the slightly more niche options.
But as you can see, golf betting is one of the more enjoyable gambling activities there is, and top online bookmakers offer dozens of markets to take part in throughout the season.
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