9 Tips for Golf Betting
Golf betting is an up-and-coming industry in the United States and for good reason. The PGA Tour does not have an “off-season” like other major sports. Instead, it has a “swing-season” where tournaments still take place virtually every weekend of the year. The PGA Tour has also taken steps in making golf betting more appealing to sports bettors. They've partnered with DraftKings, FanDuel, PointsBet, and BetMGM to provide unique betting props and enticing odds that you shouldn't overlook. If you are looking for a sport with unique betting structures, favorable odds, exciting props, and the ability to bet year-round then look no further than golf and the PGA Tour. Not well versed in how to research and make educated wagers on golf? No problem — we are here to help!
1. Course History & Comparable Courses
One of the most obvious factors to look at is a golfer’s course history at a particular course in the past. All of these golfers are professionals and some of the best players in the world. But they all have their own success and struggles at certain courses.
For example, the annual host of the Wyndham Championship is Sedgefield Country Club, where Webb Simpson has finished T-3, 2nd, T-2, 3rd, T-6, T-5, and T-11 in 7 of the last 9 years after following his victory there in 2011. Similarly, Bubba Watson has three victories at Riviera Country Club. Rory McIlroy has won the Tour Championship twice at East Lake Golf Club. And, despite not having a victory at Augusta National, Dustin Johnson has finished inside the Top 10 every year since 2015. These are a few of many examples of how course performance and history are crucial in predicting how a golfer will perform at any given course.
2. Course Layout & Course Fit
Each golfer has their strengths and weaknesses and each course has distinct layouts that may expose weaknesses or enhance strengths. Some basic factors to consider when evaluating how a particular golfer fits a certain course are the length of the course, size of the greens, and width of the fairways. If you are considering a golfer that is having trouble finding the fairway or losing strokes off the tee, then you may reconsider placing a wager on that golfer if the course is set up to reward accurate drives and penalize stray shots in the rough.
Longer courses may favor the longer drivers like Rory Mcllroy, Dustin Johnson, and Bryson DeChambeau. This is because their longer drives will result in shorter approach shots and closer proximity to the hole. Shorter courses may neutralize driving distance advantages if players cannot use a driver on every hole. This would give a slight edge to players like Gary Woodland or Henrik Stenson that have success off the tee when using less than a driver. Other courses may have smaller greens that demand stellar iron play, where golfers like Francesco Molinari or Justin Thomas can thrive. Some courses are set up for right-to-left tee shots, where someone like Rory Mcllroy may have an advantage. Whereas a course with a left-to-right layout may favor players that excel in "fading the ball" like Jon Rahm or Dustin Johnson.
3. Tournament History
Historical performance at a particular tournament can be very important when determining which golfers have performed well in the past. It is important to take note if a particular tournament has changed sites or has a rotating course format. For example, the Masters is played at Augusta National every year. However, the U.S. Open changes tournament sites each year on a rotating basis. This can be critical when looking at a golfer's performance in a specific tournament or at a specific course. If the course changes on an annual basis or recently procured a new host course, then tournament history numbers can be less indicative of future performance.
4. Recent Form
A strong indicator of how a golfer may perform in a tournament is recent performance. History tells us that golfers go on hot and cold streaks, and they'll often take breaks or not participate in certain tournaments if they prioritize refining their game over tournament participation. If your research shows that a certain golfer has missed the cut in three of the last four tournaments, then that would be an indication of poor recent form and may enhance the odds of him missing the cut.
Inversely, if you see a golfer that has made the cut and placed inside the Top 15 in 3 of the last 4 tournaments, then this would be an indication that the golfer is in good recent form and has a higher probability of making the cut and placing. Be sure to also take note of how many weeks a golfer has played consecutively. These golfers are often subjected to long travel days, travel from coast-to-coast, and can burn out, leading to less than stellar performances.
Another obvious consideration is the weather. Every professional golfer can play well when the weather is cooperating and wind speeds are low. It’s when Mother Nature imposes her will on a golf course that weather becomes a critical factor. The PGA Tour retains and publishes numerous statistics that show how well certain golfers perform in windy conditions, wet conditions, and other conditions that affect the golf course. Wet conditions mean drives will have less roll out but that greens are more receptive on approach shots. Windy conditions may favor those golfers that have more experience playing in windy conditions or are considered good "links players." These golfers can control their iron shots in the wind and have lower trajectory. This helps negate the effect of the wind. Be sure to check the weather forecast leading up to each tournament, as it could have a major effect on overall performance.
6. Statistically-Significant Metrics
Golf measures statistics with the “strokes gained” metric. This metric measures how well a golfer performs compared to the average player on the PGA Tour. This metric shows how many strokes gained or lost on every shot from tee to green. You can look at past winners of the tournament and see where they gained strokes on the rest of the field, as that is a good indicator of what type of shots and parts of the golf game are most important for success at that specific course. You can then research the current field to see which golfers excel in certain statistically significant metric categories.
If the past event winner gained a significant number of strokes in several categories, then you will want to look at which golfers in the field are also performing well in those same areas. For example, if the most recent winner significantly outperformed the field’s strokes gained putting, strokes gained approaching the green, and strokes gained around the green, then you will want to see which current field golfers are also performing well in those same categories.
7. Keep Up with News and Updates
Staying in tune with updates about the upcoming tournament is important. You may read that a certain golfer is dealing with an injury or personal event that could potentially lead to a poor performance or withdrawal. Daniel Berger famously teed off on the first hole of the WGC-Bridgestone in 2016 and withdrew immediately just to collect a $50,000 check. He cited a wrist injury, which had been in the news. But many bettors had placed wagers on him due to his potential to win the tournament.
There are also stories of golfers recently becoming fathers and losing sleep, golfers dealing with a death in the family that is sure to take a mental toll, and last-minute illnesses that could affect performance. Golfers will also occasionally withdraw from the tournament in the week leading up to the first round, which can also be critically important if you participate in DFS tournaments like DraftKings or FanDuel.
8. Look for Value
Anyone could place a $100 bet on the tournament favorite to win. The downside is that your odds decrease dramatically, and it’s historically a losing strategy. The favorite golfer wins less than 10% of the time. A statistical review in 2018 showed that if a bettor were to bet the favorite in every tournament from 2009-2018 then that bettor would net a loss of 141.68 units. Finding value leads to success betting on golf. If in a given tournament your research shows that Xander Schauffele with +3000 odds has a similar probability to win the tournament as Dustin Johnson with +700 odds, then this would be an example of a value bet. Your $100 bet would pay out $3,000 if Schauffele wins the tournament but only $700 if Dustin Johnson wins.
9. Do Not Just Bet the Outright Winner
Golf is unique in that it offers a wide range of betting options. Betting the outright winner of the tournament is not the only bet that can be placed in golf. You can also place wagers on Top 5 and Top 10 finishes. You can also bet head-to-head matchups for a given round or the tournament. Golf also offers a bet referred to as “Three Balls,” where you can bet the highest placed finisher in a group of three golfers. These other bets can be easier to win compared to betting the outright winner in a field of 150+ golfers. Be sure to visit your sportsbook and see what types of bets are available. Do your research, place your bets, win, and repeat.