Though some may consider golf to be a past time for the wealthy, it is actually one of the oldest sports in the world. The modern sport dates back to the 15th century and has roots in ancient Rome, Persia and China. By the 18th century, golf clubs were created and it was not long before standardised rules were established for the sport. Nowadays, it is among the most popular sports across the globe, with major tournaments. The largest events in golf are the Masters, the PGA Championship, the US Open and the Open Championship (or British Open). Players compete in the hopes of winning silverware and prizes from eight-figure cash pools.
Where there is competition, betting follows closely behind. If you want to bet on golf tournaments, you will have a multitude of markets to choose from and some can offer substantial rewards. Whilst you do not need to be an expert at golf to place your bets, it is highly recommended. However, if you are new to the wonderful world of golf, then don't worry as you will learn all you need to know about the sport and how to bet on it.
Golf Betting Markets
Betting on golf tournaments is quite unique. There are no internal fixtures where golfers go head to head. Instead, the major tournaments are held in 4 rounds. Each round comprises 18 holes and the tournaments use stroke play. This means that the score is not counted by the winner of each hole but rather by the overall number of strokes golfers take over the course of the competition. After the second round, the top 50 players “make the cut”. They will continue playing in the next two rounds, and all the other players in the competition will be knocked out. In the end, the player with the lowest number of strokes wins the tournament.
With that information, here are the main betting markets for golf:
- Outright Winner
- Place Bet
- Each Way Bet
- Versus the Field
- Three-Way Head-To-Head
- Make the Cut
- Alternative Outrights
There are many aspects to consider when betting on golf tournaments. As the competitions have over 100 contestants, the odds are extremely long – even on the favourites. There are also wagers where you will not have over 100 selections to pick from and may be safer to place.
Outright winner is as simple as it gets. You will have to pick which golfer will win the tournament. Outrights may be available long before the tournament begins. The odds will no doubt change, but you will be able to place the bet at any time ahead of the competition.
As mentioned before, there are many contestants to pick from so you can expect generous odds. You can expect favourites to have odds of 7 up to 10, and occasionally even longer. Whilst betting on the outright favourite seems safe, remember that the odds are long for a reason. There may be a good handful of players who are strong contenders to win the title.
You may be a bit reluctant to back a golfer to win the whole competition, and that is where place bets come into play. You will basically bet on a golfer to either win the competition or finish in one of the top places. Place bets may vary: there may be bets for a golfer to finish in the top 3, top 5, or a similar place. This will undoubtedly change the odds. The more places there are, the shorter the odds will be. However, the risk will also reduce when there are more places offered in the bet.
Each way falls between a moneyline and a place bet. Your stake will be split in two, with half going on a moneyline and the other half on a place bet. Many punters opt for each way bets as it brings more favourable returns than a place bet and still provides insurance in case the chosen player does not win.
Let's say that you want to bet on Rory McIlroy in the upcoming US Open tournament. The outright and top 5 place bets have the following odds:
- Rory McIlroy outright winner at odds 10.1
- Rory McIlroy to place in top 5 at odds 3.4
The each way bet uses the odds from both these bets. If you have a stake of $10, then the returns from the three separate bets would be:
- Outright winner: $101 if McIlroy wins, $0 if McIlroy places
- Place: $34 if McIlroy wins, $34 if McIlroy places
- Each way: $67.50 if McIlroy wins, $17 if McIlroy places
To calculate the each way bet, simply half the stake and calculate the proceeds from each half. If McIlroy wins, the criteria from both bets are met. The $67.50 comes from the $50.5 (10.1 x $5) and the $17 (3.4 x $5) bets. If McIlroy only places, then only the place half of the bet wins. This means that only $17 (3.4 x $5) is returned. The bet not only has good insurance but if the chosen golfer wins then it can offer a more substantial return than the place bet can.
Versus the Field
To put it simply, this is the opposite of an outright winner bet. You can bet against a golfer, and you will require any other contestant to win the tournament. It may feel a bit strange to be betting against a golfer, but it is quite a popular bet. The odds may be shorter than betting on an outright winner, but it is safer. Frequently, there will be a handful of potential title contenders and so singling out one and betting against them can be rewarding.
While it is true that golfers do not play direct one-on-one fixtures, the betting market creates scenarios in which they do. A head-to-head wager singles out two contestants and you will need to pick which of them will finish in a higher place. Your chosen golfer does not necessarily need to win the tournament. As long as they can finish ahead of their opponent, you will win.
It is worth noting that as there are only 2 possible outcomes, this market does not offer massive odds. However, there can be some highly interesting match ups that may interest keen golf fans.
This is the same as a head-to-head bet, only you will have to pick from a selection of 3 golfers. With 3 possible outcomes, the odds will be longer than that of the 2-way head-to-head bets, and therefore may hold more appeal to bettors.
Make the Cut
You can bet on whether a golfer will make the cut, and proceed to the latter stages of the tournament. As mentioned earlier, majors are played in 4 rounds and after round 2 only 50 golfers will carry on. Those that finish in the top 50 at that point in time will “make the cut”. The odds on the favourites to make the cut will be negligible – if those bets are even offered. Instead, it is better to look at players who will finish closer to the cut line. You will want to look at the most promising amateurs, up-and-coming players, and even the unknowns who show potential to compete amongst the top players in the final rounds.
Props refer to certain events that may occur in a tournament or on specific statistics. Golf is packed with events and statistics and therefore you will find no shortage of props bets. These can relate to individual rounds or the overall tournament. Not all bookmakers will offer golf props but the ones that do will have an endless list of different markets to choose from. You may find bets on total eagles, birdies, bogeys, double bogeys, and so on. There may be wagers for whether there will be a hole-in-one, what the winning margin will be, will the tournament end in a tie and go to the sudden death round, and much more.
Bookmakers are not only interested in who wins a tournament. There are other types of outrights that pose intriguing questions, and therefore, potential betting markets. For example you may find bets on the top American/Chinese/British/Canadian/etc golfer. There may also be bets for the top golfer under the age of 25, and the top amateur golfer. Some bettors may overlook these markets, but be sure to check them thoroughly as you may find some fantastic deals.
Most bookmakers will cover the 4 major golf tournaments and several other marquee events held each year. However, not all bookmakers will offer every single market listed above. A well-rounded bookmaker should have most, if not all, of the bets listed above.
Hopefully, with all the information you have now learnt you will be prepared to make your own predictions and take advantage of the many betting markets offered. Be sure to research your bets well and keep in mind that anything can happen. Play responsibly and don't forget to enjoy the tournaments and play for fun.
Lloyd is passionate about online gambling, he lives and breathes blackjack and other table games, and he enjoys sports betting.