Given golf’s popularity in the US, it’s no surprise that the sport is a popular option for many sports bettors. It’s a preference that is likely to rise as sports betting becomes legal in more states.
With PGA Tour tournaments running almost all year round, there are no shortages of options for bettors who fancy a wager on golf. Whether it’s placing money on a player to win an upcoming round or a futures bet on a player to win one of the majors, there is more than enough to keep you entertained.
Add to that the rise of live betting as you watch the action, and betting on golf has even more going for it. So if you’re new to golf betting or are interested in learning more, read the following guide on everything you need to know to get started.
More so than many other sports, golf betting has its own distinct bets and rules on how these bets are decided. Sportsbook odds and lines, for the most part, function in the same way as in many other sports. Sportsbooks set odds based on expected probability, with the odds having either a plus or minus sign in front of them.
The odds with the plus symbol represent how much a wager of $100 will yield. For example, odds of +150 mean that you would win $150 if you were to wager $100 and win. Odds with the negative symbol represent how much you need to bet for a chance to win $100. For example, odds of -150 mean that you would need to bet $150 for a chance to win $100.
With regard to specific bets, these are the most common types of bets that you will come across when wagering on golf tournaments:
For example, if Justin Thomas is up six strokes heading into the final round of the tournament, betting vs. the field here would mean wagering on any other player, regardless of their ranking or expertise, to end up winning the tournament instead of Justin Thomas. If that does happen, you win your wager.
This option is also common in the early stages of many golf majors. Several players are grouped together and listed as an option versus the field. For example, Webb Simpson, Jason Day, Adam Scott vs. the field at odds of +500. If you placed a $100 wager at those odds, you’d need any of the three players to win the major for you to win $500.
This type of bet is also known as a matchup. Group matchups place several players of similar ability in one group, and bettors choose which of the grouped players will perform better in the tournament.
As you can see, golf betting has a distinct focus on prolonged player progress throughout tournaments, which is why a lot of the markets have high odds.
If you’re looking to increase your chances of winning, here are three tips to stick to when betting on golf:
Live betting has seen a surge within the past decade in many sports. This is true for golf betting, as well. Bettors can place wagers on golf as they watch the action, giving them an upper hand as opposed to pre-round bets.
There are a lot of options that are available during live betting. You can wager on tournament winners based on how the current round is going, results of individual holes such as who is going to win the current hole, and also score results like a birdie or a bogey on a given hole.
Live betting mainly happens on mobile phones. Almost all the large sportsbooks have readily available apps that ease the live betting experience. These live gambling apps have efficiency in mind, ensuring that you can place your picks without any delays or lags, something that is crucial in live betting, especially if you want to ensure that you get the best price or place a certain pick in time.
However, sportsbooks also adjust their odds based on how the round is progressing. If a player had odds of +700 to win the tournament before the round began but is now a couple of shots behind, the golf odds may shift. Meaning the odds on such a player could rise to +2000 or even to +2500.
Futures bets are common in golf. Bets such as “to win the tournament” fall into this category because their outcome won’t be decided immediately. Here are some other common futures bets in golf:
Golf proposition bets, aka prop bets, feature events and scenarios that do not have a direct outcome on the tournament or the tournament’s winner. These mostly focus on specific occurrences during a particular round or the tournament as a whole.
Such prop bets can be fun little side wagers and have a wide range of potential wagers. Some examples of popular prop bets are as follows:
Golf has four majors during the season — the most prestigious events of the PGA tour. These four majors are the Masters Tournament, the PGA Championship, the US Open and The Open Championship. The Open Championship, commonly referred to as the British Open, is the only major that doesn’t take place in the US.
Also simply referred to as the Masters, this is almost always the year’s first major. It takes place in the first full week of April and is the only one of the four majors to be at the same course: Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia.
It also has the smallest field of the four majors, at 90 to 100 players. Adding to its distinct nature, it’s an invite-only event with no qualifying tournaments. It was started in 1934, making it the newest of the four current majors. Its prize fund stands at $11.5 million, with the winner receiving close to one-fifth of this prize money.
Recent winners include Dustin Johnson, Tiger Woods, Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth, with Jack Nicklaus holding the record for the most Masters won at six. Outright winner odds for the favorites usually start at around +600, with players like Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy being the favorites in recent years.
This major is the third of the year, coming after the PGA Championship, and usually takes place in mid-June. Its location often varies from year to year, unlike The Masters. It has even been held in New York on multiple occasions — six times between 2000 and 2020.
The first US Open took place in 1895, and it has since enjoyed an illustrious history that has seen it become one of the most prestigious golf tournaments in the world. Its current prize pool of $12.5 million is the most of all the majors. It is also tied for the most prize money among all PGA Tour events.
Recent winners include Bryson DeChambeau, Gary Woodland, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth. Four players are tied for the most tournament wins: Willie Anderson, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus and Bobby Jones.
Founded in 1916, the PGA Championship used to be the last major of the year, but it was moved to May in 2019 and now begins on the weekend before Memorial Day, making it the second major of the year.
The major often switches locations, but it is primarily held on the eastern side of the USA; only on 11 occasions has it taken place out west. It is the only one of the four majors that is restricted to professional players. As such, it features a strict qualification criterion. It has a current prize pool of $11 million, the lowest among the three American majors.
Recent winners include Collin Morikawa, Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas, Jimmy Walker, Jason Day and Rory McIlroy.
The Open Championship goes by some other titles, most commonly the British Open or simply The Open.
This tournament has the distinction of being the only major held outside of America. Plus, it has a lot of prestige attached to it since it is the oldest golf tournament in the world, having been founded in 1860.
It is the last major of the year as it takes place in late July over four days, with its location often changing to different golf courses within the United Kingdom. The prize money, however, is $10.75 million, making it the least among all of the four majors.
Recent tournament winners include Shane Lowry, Jordan Spieth, Francesco Molinari, Henrik Stenson, and Zach Johnson.
If you want to watch the action and keep tabs on a bet that you’ve placed, you can generally do so through your sportsbook account. Many sportsbooks allow live streaming of all types of sports, just as long as you’re logged in to your account and have a balance greater than $0.00.
If you’re new to golf betting, some of the more beginner-friendly wagers include placing “to win” bets and other markets like head-to-head and top finishes. These are fairly easy and straightforward, and even bettors with limited golf knowledge can use these as building blocks to gain more insight into the sport.
However, it’s always advisable to ensure that you have a good understanding of a sport before betting on it. This will not only help to ensure that you’re aware of the picks that you’re placing, but it also gives you a sixth sense regarding possible betting alternatives.
Other factors to keep in mind when betting on golf are things like player statistics, form and how certain golfers perform on select courses. And even when betting on selections with higher odds when compared to other sports, it’s always important to ensure that bankroll management remains at the forefront of your betting strategy.
As always, sportsbooks may differ on how they settle things like suspended rounds and penalties. It’s always best to confirm the rules of any such scenarios.
Most sportsbooks, however, often stick to some set stipulations. One of these is settling tournament bets after a certain minimum number of holes have been completed. This minimum number will depend on the tournament.
Another common golf betting rule is to void bets in the cases of shortened tournaments or suspended rounds. Bets on players who withdraw from a tournament before playing a stroke are usually voided, but if a player is disqualified or withdraws after playing a stroke or after beginning the tournament, bets on that player generally remain valid and are marked as losses.
Despite seeming complicated, golf is an easy and fun sport to bet on. It has its own choices that perfectly complement the sport, and the golf betting markets boast some great, high-paying odds, meaning that it can be a fun sport on which to wager.
So, if you familiarize yourself with all of the above, take time to research your bets and develop strategies that focus on golf betting, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a great golf handicapper.