This golf betting tutorial is for you if you’re new to golf betting or have only gambled lightly in the past. Follow us as we take you behind the scenes, dissecting all types of golf bets and lining up our best golf betting advice. Let’s get this party started!
Golf bets, lines, odds, outrights/futures, and other golf betting jargon to be familiar with
- Golf Futures/Outrights
- Betting in the First Round
- Golf Accessories
- Every-Way Betting
What are Outright and Futures Bets on the PGA Tour?
Betting on outrights or golf futures is the most common option for sports bettors to obtain a stake in professional golf events. A golf outright or futures bet, similar to betting on which team you believe will win the Super Bowl or World Series, selects an individual player to win a specific golf tournament.
Unlike other sports futures, you won’t have to wait a complete season plus playoffs before cashing out. You can put your bet on Wednesday, the day before the golf competition, and pay out on Sunday, following the final round. You can bet on winners of major tournaments like the Masters, U.S. Open, Open Championship, and PGA Championship months in advance.
Here are some of the top golfers’ golf futures odds for the 2020 Masters (held in November 2020) at OKBET Sportsbook:
- +600 Rory McIlroy
- +1100 Jon Rahm
- +1200 Brooks Koepka
- +1200 for Tiger Woods
- +1400 Justin Thomas
- +1600 Dustin Johnson
As you can see, golf futures odds resemble those of the NFL, MLB, and NBA. If Rory McIlroy (+600 or 6/1) wins his first green jacket, a $10 golf wager will return $60. A $10 wager on Dustin Johnson returns $160. A bettor won almost $1 million last year after wagering $85,000 on Tiger Woods to win the 2019 Masters at +1400 (14/1) odds.
Golf betting tips for outrights and futures
Now that we’ve defined golf outrights and futures, here are some golf betting tips to think about before placing your bets.
Golf odds can be found at regulated PH sportsbooks
True for any type of sports betting, but for futures in particular, establish a habit of shopping golf odds and using all legal sportsbooks available to you. Golf odds might differ significantly from one bookmaker to the next. A $10 wager could be worth $60 at one site and $85 at another. Shopping odds can mean the difference between being a winning or lost golf bettor in the long run.
Everything revolves around timing
Similarly, it is critical to try to time your bets. Just as a Wall Street trader seeks to buy cheap and sell high, a golf bettor seeking to profit must assess and forecast the best moment to bet on specific golfers. For others, this may imply betting as soon as the odds are available. Others may have to wait for public money to come in before placing a bet the night before the golf competition.
This is a learned talent, and while you will never be perfect, the more you wager on golf, the better your timing will become.
To determine who might be popular bets, listen to sports betting podcasts, follow helpful Twitter accounts, and read golf betting articles. If you have your eye on a golfer and believe he will develop momentum, keep alert and try to bet on his opening odds.
If you’re looking for a golfer who you believe will go unnoticed, be patient. It’s typically best to wait for oddsmakers to alter prices as the week progresses. If a golfer you like isn’t gaining traction while other golfers are, odds are better on Wednesday than Monday. Over the course of a few days, golfers’ ratings can range from +6000 to +8000 (and vice versa).
Accept the differences
Golf, more than any other sport, is a game with A LOT of variance, where the difference between a good round and a bad round can be as little as four shots, and where the winner is often determined, in part, by a combination of lucky breaks, favorable tee times (weather), and unpredictable hot putting streaks. That doesn’t imply you can’t find an advantage.
Sharp sports bettors accept variation and capitalize on uncertainty. There is no sport more true of this than golf.
Avoid using chalk
Avoiding the chalk, or the favorites, is one approach to accept variation.
Public money pours toward high-profile players or those with good course history (more on that later), even if they aren’t in the best shape, especially in high-profile tournaments. Tiger Woods and other prominent names in golf events are popular among casual gamblers. However, finding value in these men is tricky since sportsbooks will preemptively slant their golf odds if they predict a lot of money on a certain golfer.
Consider Rory McIlroy, who is once again the world’s best golfer. The Irishman went winless on the PGA Tour in the four major tournaments during the 2013 season, despite having won the No. 1 slot in the Official World Golf Rankings for the first time in his career the previous year.
McIlroy would return to the top of the golf rankings in 2014 and 2015 before slumping in 2017 and 2018. Despite being regarded as the world’s top golfer and a betting favorite, McIlroy only won twice from the start of the 2017 season and his victory at the 2019 PLAYERS Championship.
Similarly, former world No. 1 Dustin Johnson has only won one individual prize in 24 events since the start of the 2019 golf season. This hasn’t been good for Johnson bettors, who started the season with as low as 7/1 odds on their favorite. When Johnson is in the field, his odds have remained low, rarely opening at more than 10/1.
In general, I only bet on golfers who pay out at least +2000 (20/1).
Find the next big thing before the data
That’s not to suggest you couldn’t make money betting on some favorites, such as McIlroy and Johnson, if you did it over time. After all, they are favorites for a reason: the two have almost 50 professional wins between them!
However, consider the golf odds of their early triumphs. Johnson was 50/1 to win the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in 2009. After that, oddsmakers began to give Johnson more credit, with the long hitter defending his championship at Pebble Beach in 2010 with 20/1 odds.
McIlroy, like Johnson, won his first Tour victory as a 50/1 long shot.
So the issue isn’t betting on the best golfers in the world. In fact, you want to start betting on the best golfers in the world before we know who they are (and again, buying low). Of course, that’s easier said than done.
Investigate, know when to hold’em and when to fold’em
“So… how do I recognize which golfers will undoubtedly achieve success?” I’m sure you’re wondering.
There is no magic formula, but keeping a watch on the top amateurs in the world and collegiate golfers turning pro is critical if you want to beat oddsmakers and other bettors to the punch.
Consider the following: There were 14 first-time Tour wins in 2019, and six more in 2020 before the season was temporarily halted. That means that despite goliaths like Rory McIlory, Dustin Johnson, and Brooks Koepka frequently standing in their way, first-time winners have won 20 of the last 68 tournaments – a little less than one in every three.
Identifying rising golfers
The majority of the golfers mentioned above were successful as amateurs and in college. For some, it took years to adjust to Tour life and competition before winning, but a select group of golfers made their mark quickly.
Former Oklahoma State golf teammates Matthew Wolff and Viktor Hovland, in particular, stand out for their young and remarkable pedigree/amateur successes. Let’s start with their professional victories and golf odds:
- At the 2019 3M Open, Matthew Wolff +12500
- At the 2020 Puerto Rico Open, Viktor Hovland is a +1000 favorite.
Along with helping the Cowboys to the 2018 NCAA Division 1 Championship, both have prior PGA experience and were individually ranked among the top college and amateur players.
Wolff became the top collegiate golfer as a sophomore after winning the Phil Mickelson Award for top freshmen of the year in 2018. Hovland finished the 2019 Masters as the lowest amateur, propelling him to the top of the World Amateur Golf Ranking. Hovland’s excellent play continued at Pebble Beach, when he shattered the 72-hole amateur scoring record for a US Open.
So it was evident that these men were the most skilled rookies in professional golf. They would have been the top prospects in a PGA draft. But because collegiate golf doesn’t get much TV time, their name recognition, particularly Wolff’s, was nowhere near that of elite prospects in other sports like Zion Williamson or Joe Burrow.
First professional appearances
As a result, when they made their professional debuts at the 2019 Travelers Championship, both golfers got lengthy odds (Hovland +6000, Wolff +8000). As a fan of both golfers, I knew I wanted to bet on them for the foreseeable future and was prepared to do so until their odds became too short to justify by either A) playing well and causing the market to react or B) playing so poorly that even their long odds were no longer tempting.
Hovland made the cut at the Travelers Championship and finished T13 the following week. The market caught on, and his odds shrank to levels I was no longer willing to back.
While Hovland’s star rose, Wolff struggled early on with an MDF and a missed cut. His odds quickly reduced to +12500 before of the 3M Open, when Wolff would win his first PGA title in only his third professional competition. Fortunately, I ignored Wolff’s early mistakes and continued to purchase low in the run-up to his victory.
Bryson Dechambeau and Jon Rahm are two young golfers with renowned achievements that helped golf bettors pay 50/1 tickets when they won within a year of going pro. Let’s just say that 50/1 golf odds on these guys didn’t last long. Both have now progressed on Tour and added hardware to their trophy cabinets.
Betting on the winner of the first round
Betting on the first round leader (FRL) is identical to a standard outright bet, except that the winner (at least for betting purposes) is chosen by the golfer with the lowest score at the end of Round 1.
Because of the reduced sample size, more golfers are involved. I like to target long-shot golfers that have a high birdie rate and are called “bombers” off the tee for FRL bets. Hitting the ball far is advantageous, and these golfers usually have the ability to “get low” if other aspects of their game are put together. You may not have faith in them to keep things afloat for 72 holes, but 18 holes is far more manageable.
If you decide to wager on the first round leader, keep the weather in mind. If a windy afternoon is in the forecast, target golfers with morning tee appointments.
Additional golf betting predictions
There’s more to golf betting than merely scouting young talent. Also:
Course history is overrated: Many golf bettors place too much emphasis on course history, which can provide value on golfers who you believe have turned the corner after missing three consecutive cuts at a certain course.
Don’t be fooled by a hot (or cool) putter: If you only look at scores and tournament results, a hot putter can hide poor play, whereas a chilly putter can conceal a strong swing. Putting is the most noisy measurement in golf, with minimal predictive value. Look for chances to purchase low on a golfer who has had terrible results due to poor putting but has consistently gained strokes elsewhere.
Golf betting is volatile. Make the following plans: Because of the volatility outlined in this article, golf bettors can go on long losing streaks even if they are doing everything correctly. To navigate the perilous but rewarding seas of golf:
Making the menu: Fill your weekly betting card with 4-8 golfers based on their odds.
Bankroll management: Exercise more careful bankroll management than you would in other sports.
Create a betting “unit”: Instead of making each wager worth one unit (for example, $20, $50, or $100), come up with a value that works for you — say, two units each betting card — and split the units among your options. Adjust how you see fit, maybe by spending a larger portion of your weekly units on golfers with the shortest odds and a lesser portion on those with longer odds.
What exactly are golf matches, props, and each-way bets?
Although outright bets are the most popular way to gamble on golf, they are not for the faint of heart. Golf matches, props, and each-ways may be more appealing to people who do not see the appeal of 50/1 long shots.
Matches in golf
The moneyline between two golfers in a given round and/or tournament is determined by oddsmakers in matchup bets.
Tiger Woods -180 vs. Phil Mickelson +150, for example.
Sportsbooks release tournament matchups as well as round-by-round matchups throughout the course of four days.
In tournaments, the golfer with the lowest cumulative score after the final round wins the match. The winner of a round matchup is determined solely by the results from that round.
The majority of golf matchups are centered on the moneyline, although some bookmakers may let you to wager on a spread between golfers, such as Woods -1.5 vs. Mickelson.
Be cautious of multiway markets
There is an undesirable trend at sportsbooks, and golf bettors must be cautious. Some shops are converting two-way marketplaces into multiway markets, such as head-to-head golf matches. Instead of betting on Tiger or Phil, you now have a third option: a tie.
Whereas a tie would ordinarily result in a push, betting on one of the two golfers now results in a victory for the bookies. Look about for the two-way markets.
Props for golf
Golf prop betting isn’t as popular as it is in football or basketball. Props for whether there will be a playoff or if a golfer will hit a hole-in-one are common. Professional golfers have a one-in-2,500 probability of hitting a hole-in-one on a par 3.
Sportsbooks will expand their prop menus during majors to include alternatives such as Who will be the low amateur?
and who will be X country’s best golfer?
You can normally wager on how many majors some of the top players will win during the year for season-long propositions.
Bets on each way (E/W)
Each-way bets allow gamblers to reduce variance by allocating a portion of the bet against the golfer winning outright and another amount toward the golfer finishing within a defined range. Sportsbooks normally require the golfer to finish in the top five, however this might vary.
For example, you may place a $100 wager on Matthew Fitzpatrick to win the tournament at 75/1 and Fitzpatrick to finish in the top 5 at 25/1.
Each-way betting is essentially insurance against a poor beat. Do you think being on the wrong side of a back-door cover is bad? Wait until you’re sweating a ticket with a potential 5000% return on a golfer in the last pairing on Sunday, only to have him buckle at the knees and finish second. That is a terrible beat.
The trade-off in an each-way bet is that your odds are reduced if the golfer wins outright, but at least you won’t be hungry on a Sunday night.
Highlights of the PGA Tour betting season
The Masters, U.S. Open, PGA Championship, and Open Championship receive the most attention, but one of the best aspects of betting on golf is that it can be a year-round activity.
During a typical season, the PGA sponsors approximately 50 events, with golfers traveling from all over the country and the world to compete on some of the world’s most beautiful, and difficult, courses. Smaller tournaments have some of the softer markets. You’ll have something to watch from Thursday to Sunday if you make the appropriate golf betting predictions.
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