Many sportsbooks are very active with golf. And why not? Golf and gambling have always been a natural combination.
Most of the tournaments are covered in one way or another. Some online sportsbooks engage in golf betting on multiple tours. This includes the PGA Tour, the LPGA Tour, the European Tour, the Champions Tour and maybe even the Web.com Tour. Of course, the most popular, by a wide margin, is the PGA Tour.
Certainly there is a list of tournaments that have fields that are head and shoulders above the others, and therefore they get the most attention. These include the four “major” tourneys, which are:
— The Masters
— The U.S. Open
— The British Open (known simply as “the Open” overseas)
— The PGA Championship
In addition to this, there are the Players Championship, the Tour Championship, the events that take place during the FedEx Cup playoffs, and the four tournaments that are classified under the “World Golf Championships,” which are the World Match Play, the Cadillac Championship, the Bridgestone Invitational and the HSBC Champions. Others get attention, including the tournaments hosted by both Jack Nicklaus (the Memorial) and Arnold Palmer (at Bay Hill).
We would also be remiss if we did not mention the Ryder Cup, which takes place every two years, matching teams from the United States and Europe. There will often be an advance line on who will win the Ryder Cup, and as the event’s participants are more clearly known, there will be a number of propositions which work rather organically, in the sense that this is a match play format, in either the singles or pairs portion of the competition. Since the winner is determined by total points, you will see some over/under props here as well.
Golf Bettors are Spoiled for Choice
Every sportsbook has odds on which player is going to win a golf tournament. Since the field is more than 140 players, there are a lot of choices for you. But if that was all there was when it came to golf odds, things would be a little boring.
Online sportsbooks have figured out a way for golf bettors to get so much action that they almost couldn’t digest it all. In any given tournament, you will find every different type of proposition you can imagine.
For example, if you were looking for variety, you would find not only a field as to who will win, but who will finish in the top five, or the top ten. And there will be others, especially if there is a tournament of some significance:
— Who will miss the cut
— What the winning score will be (over/under)
— What Tiger Woods might do on the first hole
— Individual player scores for rounds and tournaments (over/under)
Of course, there’s a lot more than that. In those tournaments where there is a strong international flavor, which would include most of those events we mentioned above, many of the sportsbooks also post props on:
— Top American finisher
— Top European finisher
— Top Scandinavian finisher
— Top South African finisher
— Top Australian finisher
— Top British finisher
— Top South American finisher
— Top “Rest of the World” finisher (yes, they have this too)
Also, player vs. player propositions are very popular, whether they are set up for the entire tournament or for each individual round. The criteria? Who will score better; it’s as simple as that. What this does is that if you want to bet on a player, you can, regardless of whether he is in the hunt or not.
And that’s the key, one would imagine – to keep you in the action if you want to be. No one who wants to bet on golf will ever be found wanting, if the sportsbook that is dealing in it has any interest at all.
Knowing the Courses
Handicapping golf carries with it some subtleties. But because there are a lot of participants in the game, there are some things that are widely understood. For example, there are some courses where big hitters have more of an advantage than others. Other courses require much more when it comes to “touch” in the short game. No one gets away with weak putting.
When it comes to the more notable tournaments, some of them, like the WGC-Cadillac or the Masters, are held at the same course every year. Three of the majors – the U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship – are held somewhere different every year. And course conditions dictate different kinds of skills.
At Augusta National, the site of the Masters, players need to hit long, and there is not a lot of rough to deal with. Instead, the holes are long and the greens are brutal in the way they slope. Any U.S. Open or PGA Championship course is going to be a challenge to a player’s accuracy off the tee. And at the British Open, players have to compete on a links course, which is a different challenge altogether.
There are strong sources for information on the players and their track records. One of the best is the PGA Tour website (PGATour.com), on which you can readily access all the stats for tour players (driving accuracy, driving distance, sand saves, putts per round, scoring average, etc., etc., etc.) which could give you an insight as to who could adapt to a particular course.
You can look up any player’s line-by-line tournament finishes for every year he has been competing. In addition, there are plenty of opinions and predictions on this site from experts who are playing “fantasy golf.” They discuss who might do well in any given week, and this can fit quite nicely with some of the player vs. player props as well as the other special propositions.