How’s betting on golf different than other sports?
You can’t predict the lucky bounce or improbable play swinging the outcome of any sport. That’s what makes wagering on sports a dangerous game. But as any golfer knows, our sport is even more subject to those unlucky or lucky bounces. A golfer might hit a perfect shot that hits the flagstick and ricochets into the water, when it could’ve went in the hole—ahem, Tiger Woods at the Masters in 2013. So if you’re gambling on golf, you must be willing to accept the really unfortunate breaks that could cost you a bet. Then again, odds are you’ll have a really lucky break that cancels out the unlucky break.
Due to the individual nature of golf, there are way more individual bets to be made compared to other sports (scroll down).
What do all the odds mean?
The most basic odds to understand in golf are when you bet on the winner of a tournament. This is where you’ll get the most bang for your buck, because the odds for the favorites for each tournament would be considered long-shot odds in most other sports. For example:
Jordan Spieth and Tiger Woods are the two favorites to win the 2019 Masters at +1000. A $10 bet on Spieth or Tiger to win would win you $100 if either won, plus the $10 you bet for a payout of $110. A $100 bet would win you $1,000 if either won. Betting $10 on a huge long shot like Xander Schauffele at +7500 to win would win you $750, plus the $10 for a payout of $760. A $100 bet on Schauffele wins you $7,500, plus your $100 back for a total of $7,600. And so on.
For matchup bets, the odds are more similar to those you’d find in sports like football. For example, if Joaquin Niemann is -140 to finish higher than Phil Mickelson at +120, a $100 bet on Niemann wins you $71.43, plus the $100 you bet for a total payout of $171.43. Betting $100 on Mickelson to win could win you $120, plus your $100 back for a total of $220. Mickelson may be the enticing play, but the odds imply that Niemann is a solid favorite to beat him.
What are the various bets and what do they mean?
Consider this a glossary to all the unusual betting-on-golf parlance.
Each-way bet: More common in Europe, this bet is a double bet of sorts: You’re wagering that a golfer, in this case, wins the event and also finishes high. This means you’re putting down double the amount it says—kind of like an exacta or trifecta in horse racing.
Example: If you put a $10 each-way bet on Brooks Koepka, you would be putting up $20 of your money. $10 is on Koepka to win the event, and $10 is on his finish. Most each-way bets pay out on a top-five bet, although top-six bets are also common. Make sure you find out from the sportsbook you’re at which place pays out on their each-way bet.
First-round leader: This is pretty self-explanatory. Before a tournament, there will be odds on players to finish the first round as a first-round leader. The odds on this are usually very high, as it’s not only unpredictable, but the variance in just one round is high. That being said, if you know a particular player excels on Thursdays, this could be a good bet.
Sportsbooks will also usually release new odds on second-, third- and fourth-round leaders after the day of play is over. These are separate bets from who will win a tournament.
Odds to win: Also self-explanatory. These are the biggest odds for a week, and for good reason. You have to nail the winner outright. Most golf fans know how often tournaments go into playoffs nowadays. It doesn’t matter if your guy is in a playoff and loses—you lose, too. Of course, you might hedge your bet to make sure you still win …
Hedging a Bet in Golf: This can be a very useful strategy if you had bet on a player before a tournament starts. Let’s say a guy that you bet to win is in the lead going into Saturday or Sunday, and you’ve got deep odds on him to win (40-1, 50-1, etc.). You’re thinking about your potentially huge payday. What you should be thinking about is how to hedge your bet to ensure you walk away with some money at the end of the tournament. If your player is leading by a couple strokes, the hedging strategy would be to bet on the live odds of other players within earshot of the lead, in case your guy struggles. Consider your hedge equity (how much you’re likely to win, versus the odds of it actually happening), and bet accordingly.
Matchups: This is another one to be careful on. Most sportsbooks will realize matchups for both tournament head-to-head bets and individual round bets. Make sure you’re clear on which one you’re wagering. We’ve messed this up before.
What’s the difference between betting on a matchup for a tournament versus the round?
Before a tournament begins you will have the opportunity to bet on one player to finish higher that week than another player, i.e. Niemann over Mickelson. This is a bet for the full tournament, a distinction you must know when betting it because there are also round-by-round matchups. Wherever you place your bets should have this labeled for you. For example, a first round matchup would say “1st Round – Tiger Woods (-150) vs. Adam Hadwin (+130)” You can make these bets in every round, and often they will be between players who are playing with each other that particular day. By contrast, a full tournament bet could be between any two players in the field.
When you say "live betting" on golf, what exactly are you talking about?