Maybe it’s the slow pace of play. Perhaps it’s the fact that the sport is cost-prohibitive and fewer fans have access to getting out on the course. Whatever the reason, golf doesn’t receive the same viewership as the four major sports…and as a gambler, that’s perfectly okay.
I’ve long considered golf to be the hidden gem for gamblers that have never fully bought into the sport. If you take the time to learn how to bet effectively, you might just be saying goodbye to those Sunday golf naps.
In this article, I’ll lay out the top “Do’s” and “Don’ts” for betting on golf.
1 – Do: Research Past Performance at the Specific Course
Unlike most other sports, the playing conditions in golf vary wildly from tournament to tournament. Different courses reward different areas of skill for players. When a player with the right strengths plays a tournament on their ideal course, it shows up in the results.
Certain courses lend themselves better to players who are able to hit the ball longer, some require skill on the green, and others require players to deal with specific elements only seen on that course.
You might be surprised to find that some players have high-value odds who have played very well at that specific course in the past.
If you’re able to identify a player who is flying under the radar as a potential contender, it might be a good idea to bet on them to finish in the top 5. Keep in mind that you have plenty of players to choose from, so make sure the play is the right combination of high-value odds paired with demonstrated past performance at the hosting course.
2 – Don’t: Bet on Heavy Favorites to Win Outright
One of the attractive things about golf for sports bettors is that you can bet in so many different ways. I’ll go in more detail on that later.
Golf is one of the most notoriously unreliable sports for people who consistently try to go with the biggest favorites. Choosing one single person to win over a 4-day tournament is an extremely difficult proposition. During the prime of Tiger Woods this may not necessarily apply, but in today’s game, I don’t think any one player is dominant enough to justify betting on an outright win.
Just like betting on any other sport, evaluating and finding value is extremely important in golf. If you want to try to predict the eventual winner of the tournament (which is very hard to do), try bundling together several players that have more favorable odds.
As a general rule of thumb, I would say that it’s best to stay away from putting money on any of the top 3 most heavily favored players going into the week. The reward simply isn’t enough to make it worth it.
Sportsbooks play on the public’s bias towards the big names. This means you are almost never going to get a high-value pick on a big name, because the sportsbooks know they can set the number at whatever they want and people are still going to be (naively) betting on the stars.
3 – Do: Experiment with Different Types of Plays
As I mentioned previously, one of the exciting things about golf betting is that there are a number of different types of bets you can make. Options are available for bettors with a high risk tolerance, and those who prefer to play it on the safe side.
Here a few types of bets you can try on the next tournament:
Head to Head
Choosing one player to beat out an entire field of golfers is undoubtedly a challenge. The solution? Head to head bets!
In this type of play, sportsbooks will give odds as if only two golfers were playing. For example, you might see Mickelson (+140) vs. Woods (-120). Simply choose which golfer you think is going to have a better round or tournament, and you’ve narrowed your focus. This gives you a much better opportunity to research each player in depth so that you can make the most educated play.
If you want to take on a little bit more risk but still give yourself a good chance to win, try group matchup betting. In this type of play, sportsbooks will provide odds for groups of 4 to 8 players.
Whereas the head to head example above had you choose the top finisher of the two, groups allow you to choose the top finisher out of whatever size group the oddsmakers propose.
Why choose groups over head to head when groups are clearly more difficult to win? The odds, of course!
Because there are more possible outcomes, you can expect to see your value increase significantly when moving from a group of 2 to 4, 6, or even 8. In my opinion, this type of bet is perfect for keeping things interesting as a viewer, while also hopefully adding to your bankroll while you’re at it.
No sport is better suited for live betting than golf. The “slower” pace of play means that everyone, both gamblers and oddsmakers, have time to sit back and readjust during play without being rushed.
Obviously, over the course of a 4-day tournament the odds are going to shift significantly. Someone who started at the bottom of the board in terms of winning outright could rise to the favorite by Friday afternoon. If you’re able to spot this before it happens, you could win a good deal of cash for your efforts.
Just be sure that your bankroll doesn’t fall victim to this strategy.
It’s important to keep in mind that just because the pace is slower, that doesn’t mean you should be utilizing every single type of bet that’s available. Instead, try playing a different bet type on each day of a tournament and find the one that you think works for your strategy.
Regardless of which bet types you go with, make sure the value is there. If you have to wager significantly more than you stand to gain, it might be best to lay off the play.
4 – Don’t: Ignore the Weather
This is one of those things where you’ll likely read it and say “obviously…,” yet it happens time and time again with golf bettors.
Checking the weather before making your bets only takes a few minutes, but it could make all the difference. When rain and/or heavy winds start to come into the picture, it acts as somewhat of an equalizer for field. This can make it even more risky to put your money on a heavy favorite, which already is risky in the first place.
In fact, if you notice that there are going to be adverse conditions to be dealt with, consider trying to find a player who the odds would suggest is a big underdog. When things get messy, underdogs can step up and take advantage of the chaos.
It should go without saying, but common sense isn’t always so common. Before placing any wagers on a golf match, check the playing conditions beforehand to avoid making a costly mistake.
If you’ve never been one to sit down and watch a golf match intently, you’re certainly not alone. However, once you discover the exciting opportunities that it provides for bettors, you may just get hooked.
Start out by playing major tournaments to see how you like it, and go from there. My guess is that you’ll be surprised at just how engaging the sport can be when you have a chance to make money on a bet.