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 betting may not sound like a complicated proposition; surely you just pick the guy who you think is going to win, right? Well, not exactly. That’s because even the very best player in the world cannot be expected to win every competition.
Picking an outright winner from a field of over 100 players is a difficult task, but golf offers a wide array of different wagers that can’t be found in other sports markets at the top New Jersey sportsbooks and top Pennsylvania sportsbooks.
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The PGA Tour in the US and all over the world offer a wide variety of tournaments to bet on throughout the year and around the world. While most only have one individual winner there are even some team competitions for betters to keep an eye on in order to shake things up.
The majors are four of the most prestigious and popular golf tournaments of each calendar year hosted by the Professional Golfers’ Association of America. These are the “big ones” and draw a huge amount of media attention and betting action.
Maybe the most well-known and most talked about tournament of the year, the US Masters takes place in the state of Georgia at legendary Augusta National Golf Club. The winner receives the iconic green jacket and often gains worldwide acclaim. The tournament usually tees off the week of the 2nd Sunday in April.
The tournament that offers one of the highest prize funds in golf ($10.5 million and higher), the Players Championship is held in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. It’s been hosted by the TPC at Sawgrass course since 1982 and was established in 1974. It’s often referred to as the “fifth major” due to its popularity.
The Ryder Cup takes place every two years and is unique in that it’s a team event pitting the US against Europe. Established in 1927 the tournament switches courses between Europe and the US each occurrence and assembles the best of the best each side has to offer for a star-studded showing. Being a team event, it has its own special bets that set it apart from most other tournaments.
Usually ending on Father’s Day, The US Open is hosted on a variety of courses throughout the country. An American staple since 1895, the tournament has a long, rich history of thrilling finishes and unforgettable moments.
Also known as the The British Open, the Open Championship is the oldest of the major tournaments getting its start back in 1860. The championship always contains the third Friday in July and is regularly held outside the United States and is the only major to hold that distinction. A favorite location is the Old Course at St. Andrews considered to be the oldest golf course in the world.
The final major of the year, the PGA Championships, takes place on the third weekend prior to Labor Day, but will be moved to the third weekend of May in 2019. Like the US Open, it’s host course varies year-to-year and the winner receives membership on the PGA Tour for the five following seasons, automatic invitation to the other three majors and eligibility for life to the PGA Championships.
The FedEx Cup is essentially the PGA Tour’s version of “playoffs” in which players earn points for every event they play throughout the year. It’s viewed as a yearly “championship” to determine the best golfer in the world or at least on the PGA Tour. One thing to keep in mind is the player with the most wins is by no mean guaranteed to win the FedEx Cup.
The WGC consists of four annual events created by the International Federation of PGA Tours. While these are usually ranked lower than the majors and Player’s Championship in terms of popularity and prestige, they still offer plenty of excitement. The events featured established in 1999 are the WGC-Mexico Championship, the WGC-Dell Match Play, the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and in 2009 the HSBC Champions event was added.
Picking the outright winner of a golf tournament is obviously the most straightforward way to bet, but with a vast field of so many names and possible outcomes there are a host of other ways to wager. Golf offers some of the most unique markets in any sport given the individual vs. the field nature of the game and major tournaments.
American golf odds are based on positive and negative figures and indicate how much money a bettor must wager to win $100 or how much a $100 bet would win. Negative numbers indicate how much you must bet to win $100. For example if Jordan Spieth has odds of -140 to win the Masters it means you must bet $140 on him to win $100.
Positive numbers indicate how much you'd win from a $100 bet. So if Tiger Woods has odds of +160 to win the Player's Championship, it would mean a potential win of $160 on a $100 bet. To work out how much you'd win on a different bet amount, you just have to scale the figure up or down proportionally.
Looking at a golfing line-up for a big championship, it is likely that your eyes will initially veer towards the familiar names of Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson and the like. However, it is frequently the slightly less talked-about players that emerge from the pack and challenge for the big events – just look at Jordan Spieth and Billy Horschel as examples from the past few years. These players are usually dismissed in the market and so it is the punter’s duty to sieve out these dark horses and find some real value.
Perhaps the most difficult task, however, is trying to asses which golfer is backing himself – i.e. who is riding high on confidence before the first tee which, in turn, will lead others to have confidence in him. The intricacies and eccentricities of golf mean that players go in and out of form constantly; indeed, a player could be out of form for two years and then go and win the Masters.
However, there are concrete signs to watch out for. The fluctuations in golf betting markets can often provide a big clue. If a player who has been off-form is fancied in the market, then clearly there is confidence behind him. As well as this, you must watch out for recent tournaments because, as with most sports, recent form is always a decent yardstick with which to measure potential success.
Although as discussed, players do not necessarily need to have excelled prior to a tournament to perform well. It is therefore a good idea to look at the different courses that respective golfers perform well on. For example, at next year’s Masters, it will be worth looking at Bubba Watson, but also at Peter Hanson, K.J Choi, and Phil Mickelson, for whom Augusta holds no fears.
Other variables to look out for include weather conditions, the ability to handle pressure and the intruding effects of any niggling injuries. Perhaps the most important thing to remember when betting on golf is not simply to back the favourite. In more cases than not, during the event itself the odds of each player will fluctuate dramatically and the favourite can finish at a much bigger price after the close of day one or two.
As such, wait for the event to start and, if you find that your pre-tournament fancy has dropped a couple of shots, you will be glad that you did not back him. Alternatively, if you see your pick playing well, then pile in.
Golf betting can be a very frustrating business, as you can go weeks without seeing any returns. Golf is unlike any other sport, because you can have a different leader every five minutes. However, when your 80/1 shot finally tops the leader board, it will cover any losses and provide additional funds well into the future.
"An experienced bettor with a decade writing about sports and gambling, Dan's expertise includes college football, college basketball, golf, the NFL and more."