Different sports are popular to bet on in different parts of the world. In Europe it tends to be football and horse racing, whereas in Australia it tends to be Aussie Rules and Rugby, and in the US they stick to the home sports…Football and Basketball. Golf betting however, is popular the world over and most polls have it in the top 10 most watched sports in the world.
In this article we’re going to talk about the most popular golf events to bet on throughout the season as well as offering you a bit of info about what the best bets are out of the dozens of markets that are available.
The Golf Season
The first thing you need to know about golf is that it’s split into a few different tours. By far and away the two biggest are the US-based PGA Tour and the European Tour and these are the big two for golf bettors. Both seasons essentially follow the calendar year, with the PGA Tour starting in the second week of January and running up until the end of October and the European Tour for a given season starting rather bizarrely in the previous December, and running until November. Both the PGA tour and the European Tour of lower tiers which are currently known as the web.com Tour and the Challenge Tour respectively. Other tours include the Champions Tour (for players over 50), the LPGA Tour (for ladies), and the Asian and Japanese Tours but betting on these events is usually only of interest to real specialists!
Notable Tournaments on the European Tour
On the European Tour, the events which carry the most prestige are typically those that also carry the largest prize funds and world ranking points. Famed events that are exclusive to the European Tour include the Alfred Dunhill Championship in January, World Match Play Championship and the PGA Championship in May, and the World Tour Championship in Dubai in November.
There are also crossover events with the PGA and Japanese Tours including the Accenture Match Play Championship in February, the Cadillac Championship in March, the Bridgestone Invitational in August, and the HSBC Champions in November all four of which form the World Golf Championships. Other crossover events include the 4 Major Championships: The Masters, the US Open, The Open Championship, and the PGA Championship.
Notable Tournaments on the PGA Tour
As well as those events that cross over with the European Tour there are a number of extremely prestigious tournaments that are unique to the PGA Tour. The Arnold Palmer Invitational takes place in March at Bay Hill, The Players Championship at Sawgrass in May, The Memorial in Ohio in June, and the Four Fedex Cup Playoff events: The Barclays, the Deutsche Bank Championship, the BMW Championship, and the Tour Championship all of which carry $8.0 Million purses.
They take place across August and September, with the overall winner of the Fed-Ex Cup pocketing $10 Million.
Tips for Betting on Golf
Betting on golf can be a bit of a lottery, and due to the sheer number of runners in the field you might go several weeks without picking a winner. To combat that in as much as is possible, when betting on golf tournaments people tend to pick a ‘stable’ of maybe 5-6 golfers who they think have a good chance for that weekend and make small bets on them, rather than a single big bet on one guy. If you choose the latter strategy you might only have a winner once or twice a year! What is also popular in golf betting is backing a player ‘each-way’ where you get a partial return on your bet if they finish in the top 4 to 6, depending on the field size. This again increases your chance of picking a winner and reduces the variance associated with golf betting.
For instance in a field of 120 you might pick 6 golfers each-way that would be priced at say 33/1, 35/1, 40/1, 66/1, 80/1 and 125/1 and adjust your stake size that you bet 3 points on the shorter priced players, 2 on the medium priced, and 1 point on the longer priced guys, also based on how good you think the value is of course. Typically for each-way bets you get 1/4 of the ‘to win odds’ so your book might look like this:
33/1: 3 points e/w – Return: 123.75 points for a win, 24.75 points for a place.
35/1: 3 points e/w – Return: 131.25 points for a win, 26.25 points for a place.
40/1: 3 points e/w – Return: 150 points for a win, 30 points for a place.
66/1: 2 points e/w – Return: 155 points for a win, 33 points for a place.
80/1: 1.5 points e/w – Return: 150 points for a win, 30 points for a place.
125/1: 1 point e/w – Return: 156.25 points for a win, 31.25 points for a place.
So your total outlay on the event is 26 points, so even if your shortest priced selection just places then you almost break even for the tournament, and anything better than that is profit. One thing to be aware of when backing each-way is that some bookmakers pay out more places than others. Obviously it’s in your interest to bet with the book that pays the most places.
Note here that we’ve spread our stake sizes so that the return on each player is roughly the same. We don’t want a situation where it’s much more profitable for us that one player wins than the other. Keeping your book balanced is important!
How to Pick Your Stable
Typically for non-majors the odds will be up on most sites the Monday before the event kicks off. This is the day when the most value is on offer as the bookmakers are testing the water a bit before they tend to fall in line with their competition and adjust their prices to maintain a balanced book. If you want to profit what you need to do is sit down over the previous weekend with a list of the runners, their stats from the PGA Tour site, and details about the course and try to find good matches.
You can go into as much detail as you like when picking your golfers. For example on a tight course you might want to pick guys with the top driving accuracy on the tour, and avoid guys who hit the ball long but tend to miss fairways. You might check out the greens at this week’s course and find that they’re Bentgrass and go looking at which players perform the best on other courses with Bentgrass greens, or get into the really funky stats like ‘strokes gained putting’. Of course you also want to study a player’s recent form. There’s no point in having someone in their stable if they’re playing terribly unless the odds on offer are REALLY generous.
One thing I recommend is to avoid Tiger Woods. The sports books are terrified of him and the because of the amount of people that bet on him each week the price on offer usually represents terrible value. Trust me, there will never be value in Tiger, and always be value elsewhere in the field as a result.
Types of Bets on Golf
As well as the outright winner bets, there are usually lots of other different markets available for golf bettors. You can pick who you think will be leading at the end of each round, whether a player will finish in the top 10, which player will finish highest from a given country, and a fun bet is the ‘match betting’ market, where the sports book prices up head to head contests between different pairs of golfers and you pick who you think will finish higher. The only problem here is the mark-up or juice tends to be around 10% in these markets which is certainly on the high side, so you might find it a little tough to find value.
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