Golf Betting: How to Bet on Golf

How to Bet on Golf
by Zman of

Golf is a game that was basically invented for the participants to wager upon, and the next best thing to playing golf and gambling is placing bets on other golfers. The wagering opportunities on professional golf have steadily increased in recent years. It used to be that the only wagers bettors could make on professional golf events involved picking the winners. But now many sportsbooks offer an array of wagering propositions for golf handicappers.

Now, many golf sportsbooks take action on more than just the PGA. The European Tour has been popular with bettors for many years and golf handicappers can now find action on the Japanese Tour, the LPGA, the Champions Tour (Seniors)
and various special events. Hey, if it’s on TV somewhere, there’s a good chance there are betting odds to be found on it!

The most common golf wager offering is simply the pick of the winner of a particular tournament. Betting board odds are posted on a good portion of the field, with bettors having 20, 30, 40 or more players to choose from. As an example, the tops of many betting boards for PGA events of the last few seasons have looked something like this:

To Win Current Tournament:

Tiger Woods 3/1
Phil Mickelson 8/1
Vijay Singh 10/1
Ernie Els 12/1
Retief Goosen 15/1
Jim Furyk 15/1

Simply put, a $100 wager on Mr. Woods to win the tournament and a Tiger
triumph would result in a $300 payoff according to the example given above.
A $100 wager on Mr. Singh and a Vijay victory means a $1,000 payday, and
so on. Also, sportsbooks offer odds on “the field,” which is to say every
player, lumped together, not listed individually. Odds on “the field” vary
according to the number of players listed individually, the total number
of players in the tournament, the overall quality of the field, plus many
other factors, and usually range from a short 2/1 to upwards of 20/1.

The other most common golf bet involves individual match-ups pairing two players against each other, with sportsbook-appropriate odds. A partial listing for our sample tournament would look something like this:

Tiger Woods -200
Phil Mickelson +180

Vijay Singh -130
Ernie Els +110

Retief Goosen -110
Jim Furyk -110

Bettors would risk $200 to win $100 on the proposition that Woods comes
in with a lower score, either on an 18-hole, one-round wager or on the tournament
as a whole, than Mickelson, while Lefty backers would risk $100 to win $180
on the reverse proposition. Many sportsbooks offer odds on both single round
match-ups and final tournament scores.

Usually, player vs. player offerings match two players of fairly even skills against each other so that the odds aren’t often more than 3/2 either way. Often times, both players in a one-on-one match-up will both be listed as small favorites of right around -110.

Another player-vs.-player wager involves a “spread,” which is similar to a point spread in American football or basketball. For instance, Woods might be favored over Mickelson by, say, three strokes over the course of an entire tournament. Bettors are given the choice of taking Tiger and giving three strokes or taking Mickelson and getting three strokes. These types of wagers are typically 11/10 on both sides.

On top of the boards which offer odds on which player will win a tournament, many sportsbooks also offer odds on whether a player will finish in the top five or the top 10. These odds are typically a quarter and an eighth of the odds on each player to win the tournament outright. So while a longshot might be posted at 40/1 to win the tournament, the odds on that player to finish in the top five would be right around 10/1.

These types of odds can fluctuate wildly from sportsbook to sportsbook, especially among the longshots. So in summary, bettors will want to shop around for the best prices on the players they fancy.

Along with the wagering opportunities offered on individual players, golf bookies are offering an increasing number of prop bets on professional golf tournaments. These include whether a hole-in-one will be made in a tournament, which player will card the best score within his threesome, whether certain players will make the cut, and group betting, which asks bettors which player will finish best amongst a certain grouping, such as the top American, the top European, the top Australian and so on.

Golf wagering rules can vary from book to book so bettors should check each book’s respective golf betting guidelines as to how ties are dealt with, what constitutes a valid wager and other variables that may affect the grading of your bet.