The leisurely pace of professional tournament golf allows spectators plenty of time to watch replays of key shots or grab a snack from the fridge. It also makes the sport ideal for in-play betting, a type of wagering that takes place during the round and sees odds rise or fall as players struggle or succeed.
While in-play betting is offered across a wide spectrum of sports, in most games the pace is so quick that bettors need to react with lightning speed to maximize potential value bets.
But golf betting is different; players take several minutes to get to their ball and line up their next shot, allowing bettors much more time to consider their options on an in-play wager.
Successful in-play betting in golf takes some knowledge of the course and a player’s history on the layout. Entering a stretch of the statistically most difficult holes on the course? It might be time to wait.
Coming up on a hole where the player has gone under par in previous rounds? It might be time to strike. And as always with golf, weather conditions are always worth watching given the substantial impact they can have on every shot.
In-play betting allows bettors to take advantage of the natural ebbs and flows of a tournament, and back a player when odds are more favorable to a payoff.
Take as an example Masters betting in 2014, which Adam Scott entered with 11/2 odds that dropped to 9/4 after a strong opening round. A better value option would have been Matt Kuchar, whose early struggles saddled him with 30/1 odds before he rallied to finish fifth.
In many tournaments like the Masters, the early leader rarely wins, so value can often be found further back in the field. Some players are known as strong closers, and are worth considering even if their early rounds aren’t up there with the leaders.
Homework and knowing individual player trends is always important: does the course favor left-handers? Strong putters? Does it feature small greens that place a premium on iron play? All of it matters, especially for PGA betting and betting on other major events.
Statistics on how holes are playing during tournaments are readily available, and they can be very helpful in successful in-play betting.
Many tournaments are played on the same courses year after year, providing a treasure trove of data that bettors can examine before events even start, so they know what are historically a player’s strongest and weakest holes in a given tournament.
At the Masters, for instance, the par-5s on the back nine are always among the most birdied holes on the golf course, while the three finishing holes are typically among the stingiest relative to par.
Player interviews in the days before a tournament may also provide insight into where they believe they’re strongest and weakest on the course.The tour’s biggest hitters, like Bubba Watson and Rory McIlroy, will always typically be strong bets on par-5s no matter where the event is taking place.
At the same time, top putters like Justin Rose and Jordan Spieth may be worth considering on holes and at tournaments — such as the Masters — infamous for their slick greens.
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