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How to Bet Golf
Golf betting has gained much more exposure and interest in the past few years, and with plenty of plus-money prices littered throughout the various forms of golf wagers, the chance for bigger scores is part of the reason behind that increased popularity.
Sportsbooks ensure that there are no shortage of wagering options on golf tournaments every week, and it isn't all about picking the winner. Grabbing the outright winner of a golf tournament is the best way to get that 'big score' but it's also the hardest wager to cash. After all, a typical professional golf tournament has a field of 140+ different players to consider.
Understanding Golf Odds and Bets
Most golf odds are listed in the fractional format – 10/1 on Dustin Johnson for example – and in that particular case you would multiply the amount bet by that first number to project your winnings. So a $100 bet on DJ to win that particular event would win you $1000.
If you are more comfortable with the American version of odds listings that you typically see across the other major North American sports – ie +1000 – these numbers are easily convertible. Online and app based books may already have that option built in, but the easiest way to do it yourself is to add two zeros to the first number in the fraction. So a 10/1 price on DJ converts to +1000 in that format.
Best Golf Betting Sites
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PGA Futures Wagers
As touched on earlier, the simplest way to bet on golf is just going out there and trying to pick the eventual winner of a specific golf tournament, such as picking Tiger Woods to win the PGA Championship. Otherwise known as the “outright” market in golf wagering, these are the prices that most often get referenced each week in previews.
Yet, at the same time, these are also the toughest golf bets to hit consistently and it's pretty easy to see why. Hitting the outright winner out of such a large field is far from easy and it's why there are such big odds listed in general in golf betting. Connecting on one feels very rewarding though and it helps to provide concrete support in your own individual handicapping process for the sport.
How to Bet Golf Majors
The Majors in a golf season always attract the most betting attention in the golf market and rightfully so. It's these big events that bring the most eyeballs, and also the most variety in terms of betting action in match play. This how to bet golf review will touch on other golf betting options for these events a little later on, but focusing on the Majors – The Masters, PGA Championship, US Open, and British Open – is never a bad idea.
Futures prices are up very early for these events (sometimes a full year in advance), and depending on how early you are willing to invest, the prices you can get can vary quite a bit.
Golf Betting Resources
With the nature of betting on golf events being much different then the head-to-head nature of team matchups basically everywhere else, it's important to determine statistical categories that tend to perform well at specific golf courses. Every week it's a different venue, so no two weeks are the same on the PGA Tour, and while things like approach shots and putting are important seemingly every week, they should be weighed heavier (or lighter) depending on the tournament.
The PGA Tour's own website is a great place to start looking at specific stats for every guy in a particular field, and the more comfortable you get with understanding what to look for, the better your betting results will be.
Where Can I Bet Golf
This one is simple as every sportsbook out there has some form of golf wagering and golf betting odds available. Although some offer much more variety than others so look at a couple of golf betting sites before deciding which is right for you. Everywhere will have the outright winner markets, but if you really want to get down and dirty in golf wagering each week, it's finding those sportsbooks that offer multiple matchups and prop bets that will end up being your preferred destination.
Right now, books like DraftKings and FanDuel are currently leading the way, at least in terms of the legal market, in the country right now. And as golf betting interest continues to grow, I'm sure many will follow suit. Below are some of the best golf betting sites with great welcome bonuses for new golf bettors. Keep in mind all of these sportsbooks are legal to bet on golf with.
Golf Matchup Bets
This form of betting on professional golf is the most similar to the “traditional” sports that are bet on in that they are head-to-head wagers (most often) between two players in the event. They can be broken down by 18 hole or 72-hole match play bets and that's pretty self explanatory. 18 hole match play wagers deal with just a single round on a particular day, while 72-hole match play deal with the whole tournament.
Once you really become more serious about including golf betting in your stable of sports to handicap, it will be these various forms of matchup bets that likely make up the bulk of your weekly action on the Tour. These are the bread and butter of every golf bettor's portfolio because of their likelihood of cashing, and winning the tournament means next to nothing in this format. They don't offer the potential for the big scores like outright futures do, but if you want to consistently grind out profits each week, it's these bets that deserve the bulk of your attention.
Match play betting in golf is just as simplistic as “Odds to Win” wagers. In this bet, the objective is to select one golfer to finish ahead of another golfer. Similar to other sports, there is always money-line odds associated with each matchup, which means there will always be a favorite and an underdog. Here is an example - Tiger Woods (-135) vs. Phil Mickelson (+115) – Woods is the favorite and Mickelson is the underdog. In this particular matchup, gamblers looking for a payout of $100 on Tiger Woods would have to risk $135 to win $100. Those betting $100 on Mickelson (+115) would earn a payout of $115 if Mickelson finishes better of Woods in the tournament. To win your matchup wagers, you need the golfer you selected to post a lower score than the opponent selected in the matchups
Live Betting Golf Odds
Live betting has exploded in all sports in recent years, and the sport of golf is no different. What's unique about this format for golf is the fact that you don't necessarily have to be so rushed in your decision making process in making plays as you would be in say live betting a NFL game. You can spend all evening on a Friday or Saturday night once the day's action is complete to formulate a plan of attack for the coming rounds, and do you research accordingly.
A good strategy for golf bettors take place on Saturday evenings by breaking down the first page of the leaderboard and attacking the outright winner market from there much more often than anything done pre-tournament. That method allows you to narrow the field to a select few golfers (depending on what the leaderboard looks like) and also gives you plenty of hope going into Sunday. Pre-tournament outright wagers can be dead early with guys missing the cut or so, and while odds going into the final round of an event might not be nearly as lucrative as they are pre-tournament, there are still plenty of good plus-money prices to be had. If you think of it in terms of another sport, cashing on a +300 ML underdog is something you always hope for in football or baseball, but in the golf world on a Saturday evening, those prices are a regularity for golfers in contention.
Golf Prop Bets
Prop bets for golf events could eventually become another staple in your weekly handicapping process of the sport, and depending on the sportsbook(s) you use, the variety and breadth of them can be quite large. The most common of these prop wagers are typically Top 5/10/20 finishes for individual players and it's those bets that will get plenty of discussion in weekly previews across the board as well. You may like a longer shot like a Ian Poulter to win on a given week at 80/1 odds, but a Top 20 finish for him will still be priced very lucrative as well somewhere in the +400 or better range. Again, at those odds, that's still a nice cash, and those 19 places on the leaderboard work as a nice safety net.
Other prop bets include things like who will make or miss the cut (typically only reserved for the bigger/major tournaments), will there be a hole in one or not, an over/under number on the eventual winning score, and even guys broken into groups based on their nationality and which one of them will be the best of the bunch – ie Who will be best Australian golfer – Jason Day vs Adam Scott vs Marc Leishman.
Again, as you get more comfortable with golf wagering, you'll find your eyes gravitating more towards these betting options each week as opposed to just the outright market.
Golf Betting Strategies
There is really no one strategy that works the best in golf wagering, as some bettors will swear by the “horses for courses” (guys who've had great career history at certain courses) method, while others prefer to use a statistical approach heavily weighed in Strokes Gained numbers across the various statistical fields. Current form of players is another thing to generally consider each week, as is something as simple as tee times, because sometimes there is a distinct advantage for one group in the draw because of the weather conditions.
Ultimately you've got to find out what works for you, and incorporating a little bit of all those things is a good place to start. Eventually you'll want to weigh things heavier and lighter based on your preference and where the players are playing on a given week – ie – horses for courses strategy should be weighed heavier at the Masters then anywhere else really.
Some savvy bettors prefer to weigh the statistical Strokes Gained numbers relevant to a specific course the most each week, while looking to current/recent form as a secondary support. Determining which statistical numbers are most important for a given course is the first place you could start each week when handicapping the field, and from there it becomes my own concoction of numbers and art to settle on the names you see me list each week in my pieces on the site.
Course history is always a nice piece of support as well, and is definitely more significant at certain places – Augusta National being one of them – but it's far too heavily weighted by bettors that are getting into golf wagering. Many bettors believe that's because it's the easiest to talk about from a content perspective and it's an easy crutch to lean on when finding other reasons to back a specific player.
Find what works for you in the end, and don't get discouraged from some awful betting weeks in golf they happen. It's a hard sport to handicap without question, but the rewards are bountiful across the board if you can find success.
FAQ - How to Bet On Golf
Up next, let’s take a moment to answer frequent questions from players about how to bet on golf.
Is golf betting legal in America?
Yes. Golf has a long and proud history in the United States. After the Supreme Court struck down the Professional & Amateur Sports Protection Act in 2018, many states legalized golf betting. Today, almost two dozen US states have regulated golf betting markets.
Why do all the golfers in a tournament have long odds?
Golf tournaments can often host dozens of players. For example, with a 120-players field, each player would have odds of 120 to 1 (assuming there were no favorites). The best golfers may be heavily favored over the competition and still have odds of 50 to 1 or higher.
Where can I bet on golf in the US?
Betting on golf in the US is easier now than ever before. After decades of relative prohibition, almost two dozen states have embraced legal sports betting legislation. A handful of others are still working out the details, but have already passed favorable bills.
States where you can bet on golf include Arkansas, Iowa, Colorado, Indiana, Michigan, Montana, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Delaware, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Rhode Island, Tennessee, West Virginia, DC, and Virginia.
Can you bet on a golf tournament after it started?
Yes, you can. Virtually all betting operators that offer golf markets feature live betting. Through live betting, players can place wagers on unsettled sports events, including ongoing golf tournaments. However, keep in mind that odds can shift quickly when betting live.
What are the best tournaments for betting on golf?
Golf has a number of prestigious tournaments. They’re perfect for fans to place their bets and tune in for some world-class golfing. You can bet on the PGA Majors, which are the four most popular tournaments in the game and are held every year.
Additionally, you can bet on the Masters, an extremely exclusive invitational event held annually in April. Finally, there’s the Ryder Cup, a professional tournament that takes place every two years. It pits American and European teams against each other.
Can you win real money betting on golf?
Yes. In legal sports betting states, you can make real-money wagers on a variety of golf betting markets. If your picks turn out to be winners, you can win real money payouts. However, keep in mind that you should always gamble responsibly. Sports betting isn’t a safe way to make money.