Golf is a sport that doesn’t quite have the mass appeal of the footballs and basketballs of the world. For many, the only time golf is must-see sports TV is during the major tournaments. And even then, it’s not uncommon to wait until Sunday to tune in.
Sports bettors who haven’t perfected their golf betting strategy might not know what to expect when putting some action on these big-time tournaments. With that being said, a little research goes a long way.
In this article, I’ll lay out the top six tips for betting on a golf major, even if you’re not typically a golf fan.
1 – Look at the Current Season Standings
Golf has its fair share of big names. Young stars like Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, and Rickie Fowler have been dominating headlines for years, and they are likely household names among even the most casual fans.
Because the name recognition is so strong, it can be easy to conflate it with success. Make no mistake about it, though, these players have made a name for themselves based on their performance. But that doesn’t mean they’re always consistent on a year-to-year basis.
Just as your favorite baseball player might have an off-year (I say baseball specifically because basketball and football stars don’t seem to fluctuate as significantly), so too do professional golfers. It may be due to injury, a mental issue, or any number of reasons, but it’s not unusual for even the best in the world to struggle.
All of this is to say that it’s crucial to look over how a golfer has been performing as of late and not rely on name recognition to assist in your bets. You might be surprised at the information you find.
2 – Look at Past History at the Course
Golf is as much a mental game as it is physical. Perhaps that explains why golfers who have had success at a certain course previously tend to perform well in future tournaments.
Each course has its own quirks and intricacies, and some players have found that certain courses play better to their strengths. For this reason, it’s crucial to take a look at how a player has performed in the past when competing at a particular course.
Now, the easiest research on this one will be when it comes to the Masters. It’s always at Augusta National. The others, however, do rotate courses. But most golfers have played at each course at least once, and in most cases, multiple times.
When looking back, try to find some lesser-known players that have performed well at the upcoming course in the past. It doesn’t mean that you’ll pick them outright, but this information can be extremely valuable when looking at potential matchup bets.
3 – Shop Different Sportsbooks
The odds for betting on golf is one of the most inconsistent across different sports betting websites. Whereas comparing lines across different sportsbooks for NFL games might not reveal much of a difference, the same cannot be said for golf. What does this mean for bettors? It’s essential to shop around.
To be clear, line shopping is something you should be doing for every bet you make, regardless of sport. With that being said, if you’ve found that in some sports, it doesn’t give you much of an advantage, that’s understandable.
Major golf tournaments, however, have a significant amount of difference across different sportsbooks, so it’s necessary to find the odds that are most favorable for your plays.
In addition to the varying odds, looking at different books has another advantage for golf tournaments: different matchups.
I’ll get into this more in a different section, but the actual offerings from the sportsbooks vary from site to site. If you do enough searching, you can find bets that you feel more confident in making and might even be able to find high-value bets that you believe will hit.
In any case, and even in any sport, you should be routinely line shopping in order to give yourself the best opportunities to capitalize on your wins.
4 – Learn the Different Bets
Think golf betting is all about choosing who’s going to finish on top? That couldn’t be further from the truth!
Even the most dedicated golf fans would admit that, while the odds are enticing, it’s extremely difficult to accurately choose the eventual winner of any tournament, especially a major. Luckily, there are plenty of other good bets that you can make if you know what you’re looking for.
Personally, one of my favorite ways to bet on golf is to find individual matchups that I can follow throughout the day. This creates a betting experience similar to an NFL Sunday, when you almost certainly have money on a number of different games that are happening simultaneously.
Entertainment value aside—and believe me, there’s huge entertainment value to matchup bets—they often provide some of the best value when compared to any other bets you can find in sports.
If you’re unfamiliar with golf matchup bets, they’re very easy to understand. Sportsbooks will pair up two golfers and provide odds that look similar to baseball. As you would likely expect, whoever has the lower score wins the bet.
Now, if you’re looking to raise the stakes a little bit, there are other bets similar to matchups that can provide some extra value.
Group matchup bets are similar to the one vs. one matchup bets, but as you might assume, they involve more players. The payoffs make it worth it. While they are slightly harder to win, the payoff is larger.
For example, if you were betting on a matchup between Tiger Woods and Justin Thomas, the odds might look something like this:
Tiger Woods +185
Justin Thomas -150
However, if you throw another golfer into the mix, I’ll use Dustin Johnson for this example, the odds might look like this:
Tiger Woods +210
Justin Thomas +110
Dustin Johnson +150
Obviously, the main difference here is that all of the golfers are now in the plus-money side of the equation. This is why many bettors choose to bet on group matchups over the one vs. one option. As always, it comes down to preference, risk tolerance, and how well you, as the bettor, know the golfers involved.
5 – Break It Down
Unless you’re a diehard golf fan (yes, they exist, and they love to tell you about it), you’re probably only going to be fully locked in for the final round. Use the data from the previous rounds to help you make your decisions on Sunday.
Betting on the final round is similar to live betting on an event that has four quarters. If you can spot the comeback before it happens, you can capitalize and turn it into a pretty nice payout.
Momentum is huge, and if a player has made a late run on Saturday, it can be a very profitable decision to place some money on a top-five or top-three finish. These types of bets typically offer high value and a much clearer picture about how the player might perform.
6 – Take a Flyer
Everyone wants to have a shot at the jackpot. In this scenario, the jackpot would be correctly picking the major champion.
Before the final round begins, I like to select two or three golfers and place a small percentage of my bankroll on an outright win. Typically, you can get odds of +500 or better, even for golfers who are already in the top 10 in the weekend’s standings.
The risk here is obvious, as choosing the winner is undoubtedly difficult. But any time you can find value in these “longshot” plays, the payoff can be worth the risk.
Betting on golf is, in my opinion, one of the most underrated opportunities out there. Aside from the financial benefits, the entertainment value of following your choices on Sunday makes for an exciting viewing experience.
Do your research beforehand, follow the tournament closely, and pick your spots. If you focus on value and have some degree of risk tolerance, you can join the pros in cashing in on the tournament.
Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. ...
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