Golf Betting for Beginners: How to Bet on Golf

For beginners who are looking to learn how to bet on golf, you’ve come to the right place to learn. Sportsgrid will walk you through all of the basics required to bet on golf. Golf betting provides a lot of entertainment value for even the most casual bettor as you get to sweat your bets over the full four-day tournament. Golf also offers several different betting market types that may be foreign to the new sports bettor. Below is a quick overview of how to bet on golf within each market type.

Outright Betting

Outright betting is the simplest way to learn how to bet on golf as the sports bettor simply predicts who will win the golf tournament and makes a bet on that outcome. If the golfer you’ve bet on wins the tournament, you’ll be paid out on their bet and if the golfer loses the tournament you’ll lose your wager. Golf outright betting typically offers longshot odds with the biggest favorites often still offering 8-1 (+800) or better odds and some longshot golfers paying as much as 500-1 (+50000).

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Place Betting (Top 5 / Top 10 / Top 20)

Place betting allows individuals to bet on a golfer finishing within the Top 5, Top 10, or Top 20 of a given event. With place betting, the odds offered on a golfer are often lower which reflects the fact that it is a more likely outcome. Unlike outright betting, place betting can sometimes result in ties where 12 golfers finish Top 10 or better for example. Here it is important to understand whether the sportsbook provides dead heat rules. With dead heat rules, the stake is divided proportionately by the number of golfers that are tied. For example, if two golfers tied for a single bet type, the bet would return half of what it does otherwise.

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PGA Matchups Betting

PGA matchups betting allows for sports bettors to bet on who will win an individual matchup between two different golfers. Sportsbooks typically offer these markets as either single round or full event bets. In single round betting, you are betting for a golfer to win the matchup during that round, while the full event is over the course of all 72-holes. In a 72-hole match the winner will be whoever shoots the best score relative to par and if both golfers miss the cut, whoever shot the lower score will still win. PGA matchups betting is typically done as a moneyline bet or with a stroke handicap as the spread.

Tournament Matchup Example

Golfer Moneyline Spread
Dustin Johnson -160 -2.5 (-115)
Tiger Woods +140 +2.5 (-115)

Single Round Matchup Example

Golfer Moneyline Spread
Dustin Johnson -140 -0.5 (+150)
Tiger Woods +120 +0.5 (-170)

In this example, Dustin Johnson is a favorite in both betting markets but in a single round matchup he will be a smaller favorite than he would be over the course of a tournament matchup.

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PGA Three Ball Betting

PGA Three Ball betting allows a sports bettor to predict the winner of a matchup including three separate golfers, either at a single round or over the course of the event. If two golfers tie in the matchup than the sportsbook would split the payout based on dead heat rules.

Golfer Moneyline
Webb Simpson +180
Adam Scott +160
Matt Kuchar +180

Sports bettors should be attention to the odds offered in a  3 Ball matchup to ensure that they are getting a fair price. In this example, if three separate bettors each played a $100 wager on the three golfers, the sportsbook would collect $300 and pay out either $260 or $280. This would give the sportsbook a margin of anywhere from 6.6 percent to 13.3 percent. Bettors should always look to bet 3 Ball matchups that have lower sportsbook margins and return more to the bettors.

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First Round Leader Betting

Many sportsbooks also offer bettors the ability to bet on first round leader markets. This bet type allows you to simply bet who will be winning after the opening day. A single round of golf has a lot more variance to it, so while first round leader markets usually price golfers in the same order as outright betting markets, they often will adjust the prices to offer slightly lower payouts for the worse golfers and slightly higher payouts for the better golfers. Because the prices mirror outright betting markets so closely there are some interesting research angles that bettors can explore:

Weather. The weather (in particular wind or extreme temperature) can create an advantage for golfers who tee off at different points in the day.

Course. Some tournaments feature a rotation of courses and there may be golfers who are playing an easier course during the first round that hasn’t been priced into the betting market.

Volatility. Some golfers may have similar odds to win an event but feature more volatility, making one more likely to shoot the lowest score during a single round of golf.

First-round leader betting creates the same exciting payouts as outright betting but is paid out after just one day of play.

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Props and Group Betting

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Sportsbooks also offer some more exotic props and group betting, particularly for the majors. Some of these props could include winning score, margin of victory, lowest amateur or the odds of finishing first out of a golfer’s countrymen. Props typically have a high degree of “vig” or “juice” resulting in higher margins for the sportsbook but can still offer some edge for potential bettors.


Points Betting on Golf

With the increased coverage and legalization of sports betting, we also wanted to use this space to highlight some new and innovative concepts. One of these companies is PointsBet, an Australian bookmaker that has entered the New Jersey market. PointsBet offers a unique betting type called points betting, where a bettor is rewarded (or penalized) based on how right (or wrong) they are. With PointsBetting your sweat never stops and you are rewarded based on how much your selected bet varies from the posted totals. PointsBet offers a few unique market types: Finishing Position (FP), Wire to Wire (WTW), and Leaderboard (LB).

Wire-to-Wire Leaderboard: A prediction on how well this player will perform at the end of each round. Points are cumulative for the whole tournament. For example, if a player leads from start to finish the make-up would be (20+40+60+100)= 220pts. The points are awarded as follows: 1st Rd: 1st=20, 2nd=10, 3rd=5; 2nd Rd: 1st=40, 2nd=20, 3rd=10, 4th=5; 3rd Rd: 1st=60, 2nd=40, 3rd=20, 4th=10, 5th=5; 4th Rd: Winner=100, 2nd=60, 3rd=40, 4th=20, 5th= 10, 6th=5.

Leaderboard: A prediction on how well this player will perform in the tournament. The points are awarded as follows. 1st = 60 points, 2nd = 40 points, 3rd = 30 points, 4th = 25 points, 5th = 20 points, 6th = 15 points, 7th = 10 points, 8th = 5 points, All others = 0 pts.

Finish Position: Bet OVER or UNDER on finishing positions. For example, you can bet that a golfer finishes better (UNDER) than 28th or worse (OVER) than 31st. In this bet type, a $1 bet on the OVER 31st could win up to $39 if he missed the cut and lose up to $30 if he were to win.

For more information on check out our article on how to bet on sports and learn about sportsbook vig, where to bet, how much to bet, line moves, shopping for the best line, and expected value (or EV).