How to Bet on Golf
What You Need to Know
- Golf is one of the most exciting sports to bet on. Tournaments take place across the world all year-round and there are countless ways you can place bets on the action
- If you're new to betting on the golf, consider placing a bet on a well-known player in a big tournament (Tiger Woods at the US Masters, perhaps) to see how it works
- Online betting offers the greatest choice of betting markets.
- Don't just rely on the bookies' form guides. Do your own homework and find out if the odds being offered represent good value for money
- Outright tournament winners are the simplest bets to make: just choose who you think will win an event and put your money where your mouth is
- Other popular bets include Matchups and Top 3 finishes. Before you bet, however, be sure you know the bookies' rules for Dead Heat finishes
- Remember that betting on golf can become addictive, so be sure to only gamble with money you can actually afford to lose
- Two of the biggest events for golf betting are still coming up in 2015: The Bridgestone International offers a huge cash prize, so always attracts a strong field, while the PGA Championships is arguably the big highlight of the golfing year and perfect for a flutter
Betting on Golf
To the casual TV viewer, golf may not appear as exciting as some other sports, but to the sports gambler, it represents a world of opportunities. Not only do you have the big names battling it out at the very top, but it's also a sport where little-known players way down the rankings can enjoy a successful few days and win tournaments against the odds.
But before you start betting on the Ryder Cup, Masters or any of the countless tournaments taking place all around the world, it's a good idea to brush up on your knowledge of the game and how gambling works.
Where to Bet
There are two ways you can bet on golf: you can either go to your local high street betting shop, or you can go online. For the best variety of betting markets, as well as the chance to bet while a tournament progresses, you should go online and sign up to online betting. Check out our Top 10 UK Betting Sites and get some introductory free money to start betting with. You may want to sign up to more than one online bookie as this way you can compare the odds being offered and make your money go further.
Working out the Odds
The odds (also known as the price) indicate how the bookmakers think an event will happen, whether it's a player winning a tournament or sinking a birdie. The odds also determine how much you will win if your prediction is correct. On most sports betting sites, the odds will be expressed as fractions. Or they could be expressed as decimal points or even in the American style. In all cases, however, you should be able to change the settings to suit you. Here's what each of these mean:
1) Fractional Odds
On most UK-based sports betting sites, you will find that the default setting for displaying the odds will be as fractions. Odds displayed this way show you how much you will win on a bet compared to how much you put on. Quite simply, The first number of the fraction indicates how much you will win if you place the amount of money shown in the second number of the fraction.
So, if the odds for Golfer A winning a specific tournament are 8/1, this means if you bet £1, you will receive £8 in winnings (and you will get your original stake back on top of this).
This works on a ratio basis. So, if you place £10 at odds of 8/1, you will receive £80 in winnings. Or, if you place £5 at odds of 8/1, your winnings will be £40, plus your initial stake.
Sometimes you will find that the second number of the fraction is larger than the first. This is what's known as an 'odds on' bet and shows that the bookies believe that the chances of a particular prediction (such as Tiger Woods winning a minor tournament) coming true are greater than 50/50. The principle remains the same, however: the first number of the fraction indicates how much you will win if you place the amount of money shown in the second number of the fraction
For example, if you put £2 down on odds of 1/2, your winnings will be £1. And again, this works on a ratio basis. So, if you put down £60 at the same odds, you will win £30, plus your initial stake.
2) Decimal Odds
Given most people are used to seeing odds displayed as fractions, getting your head around decimal odds may seem daunting. But, don't worry, this system is equally straightforward once you've got the hang of it.
The way it works is that you just need to multiply your stake by the decimal shown and this is how much you will receive in winnings, including your returned stake.
So, if you put £1 down on odds of 3.00, you will win £3.00, including your initial stake, if your prediction comes true. And again, this works on a ratio basis. So, if you put down £15 at the same odds of 3.00, you will win £45, including your original stake.
A Further Note About Odds
Some online bookmakers will also display odds in the 'American' style, and this is particularly true for golf. While some US sports betting fans prefer this system, to avoid any unnecessary confusion, you should switch the odds to either the fractional or decimal system.
If you're still confused about the odds on offer, then click on the bet you want to make and type in the amount you want to bet. With most online bookmakers, you will then be shown how much your stake will return and, using this information, you can decide whether or not you want to go ahead with the bet.
Popular Types of Bet
1) Outright Tournament Winner
Betting on a particular player to win a specific tournament is by far the easiest and most popular type of golf bet to make. As the name suggests, you simply pick the player you think will win and back them at the odds offered to you by the bookie.
So, let's take as an example, the odds offered by a popular online bookmaker ahead of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. As you can see below, Justin Rose is the favourite at 12/1. This means if you bet £10 on him and he wins, you would walk away with £130, including your initial stake. You can also see that the bookies are offering 'each-way bets. That is, if you bet on Rose each-way, they will offer you a quarter of the odds for outright winner (that is, 3/1) but you will win if he finishes in the top five.
What it's also worth noting here is just how long all of the odds are, even for the best players. This is quite common before the start of a tournament, though the odds will start to narrow as play commences and the leaderboard starts to take shape.
In bigger tournaments, you may be given the chance to place a bet on 'The Field'. This is the term for the remainder of the competitors outside of the top few favourites. So, if you don't think any of the main golfers listed for a particular tournament listed will win, but instead fancy an outsider springing a surprise, put a bet on 'The Field' and, if anyone outside of the names listed at the start does indeed win, you will win at the odds first offered.
A Note About Outright Winner Bets
In most cases, a golfer will be deemed to have competed once they have hit their first tee shot. That is, even if they withdraw from the competition on the first hole, so long as they have played at least one shot, all bets will be valid. So, if they withdraw early, all bets will be lost.
Make sure you know the bookmaker's policies on what happens to your stake if a players is forced to withdraw through injury or even what happens if a tournament is brought to an early close due to poor weather.
2) Top 3/Top 5 Finish
Just as with Outright Winner bets, here you just need to back a player – or players – to finish in either the top 3 or the top 5 of a tournament.
Here below we have the odds offered for the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. So, if you think Justin Rose is on good form you aren't so confident he will win outright, here you can back him at 13/5 to finish in the top 5. It doesn't matter if he finishes first or fifth, so long as he makes the cut, you will win your bet.
An Important Note About Dead Heats
Betting on golf is usually very straightforward. Where it can get a little bit complicated, however, is with 'dead heats', and you should definitely know what happens here before you put any money down.
Obviously, there will only be one winner in a tournament. If there is a tie at the end of the final round, then extra holes will be played to decide the overall winner. However, the rest of the placed golfers can be tied. That is, at the end of the final round, the leaderboard could look like this:
Position Golfer Score
1 Tiger Woods -7
2 Justin Rose -6
3 Sergio Garcia -4
4 Padraig Hamilton -3
5 DH Lee Westwood -2
5 DH Ryan Palmer -2
As we can see, Woods has won the tournament, with Rose, Garcia and Hamilton just behind. Then you will see both Westwood and Palmer are tied on -2. This is known as a Dead Heat.
Under the bookies' rules, the initial stakes are divided by the number of players tied and then settled out at the original odds.
So, if you'd put £10 on Lee Westwood each-way at initial odds of 4/1, since he is tied with one other player, your stake will be halved to £5. Then, since he came fifth, the initial odds are divided by four (since it is half odds for second place, third for third, quarter for fourth etc), which gives you evens. Overall, then, your payout will be £5 at 1/1, or £10, including your initial stake. Basically, in this instance, you have just managed to make your money back.
If three, four or more players are tied in a Dead Heat, then the size of the initial stake is simply divided accordingly. Note, however, that the bookie will only ever pay out on the top 5 places, no matter how many times the money needs to be divided up.
3) Top European/American Player
One other popular type of bet to place on a major tournament is to put money on the player you think will be the top-ranked European, or top-ranked American. In fact, most bookmakers will give you the chance to bet on almost any nationality so long as more than one player in a single tournament is representing the country.
So, let's take a look at the odds offered for the top player from GB and Ireland ahead of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. As you can see, Justin Rose is the favourite and is offered at evens. So, if you put money on him, it doesn't matter if he comes third or even finishes outside the top 5 or even 10, as long as he beats all of the other GB and Ireland players, you will double your initial stake.
4) Matchup Betting
For most big tournaments, bookmakers will give you the chance to bet on betting on a matchup between two different golfers, even if the tournament doesn't take this format. Here, you simply have to imagine that the two players are competing directly against one another and put your money on who you think will come out on top after the full 18 holes.
Occasionally, the bookie will match-up a favourite with an underdog, but usually the pairings are closely-matched. Here you an see the odds offered on a matchup between McGirt and Oglivy at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. As you can see, you will need to put £11 on Oglivy to win £21 back, including your initial stake. Again, it doesn't matter where in the field Oglivy finishes; so long as he finishes higher than McGirt, you will win this bet:
In some cases, the bookie may offer Group Matchup Betting, where they will matchup three of more golfers and give you the chance to put money on who will come out on top. Just as with standard matchup bets, the golfer you put money on only needs to perform better than the other players in the same group for you to win. Generally speaking, the more players the bookie puts into a Group Matchup, the longer the odds and the bigger your potential winnings.
5) 'First Round Six Shooter'
A variation of the Group Matchup bet, here the bookmaker will select six players and give you the chance to put money on the one you think will be on top at the end of the first round of a tournament. Again, it doesn't matter if they're first overall or sixth from last, so long as they are ahead of the other five in their Six Shooter pool, you will be a winner. As an example, here's the First Round Six Shooter pool offered by Bet365 for the Zurich Classic of New Orleans (note there is no option of placing an each-way bet).
6) Other Tournament Bets
For major tournaments in particular, there really is no limit to the number and variety of bets you can place on golf. In fact, most bookies will be happy to offer odds on almost any outcome. Just some of the bets nearly all bookies take bets on include:
- Number of Holes in One: Simply bet on how many holes in one will be scored over the course of a whole tournament
- Number of Birdies: As well as the number of Holes in One, you can also bet on how many birdies will be scored in a tournament, either by a single player or by all competitors
- Leader after Round One: Here, you can put your money on the golfer you think will be leading the pack after the first round of a tournament, regardless of where he finishes up overall. If you read the form and see one player tends to start strong before fading away, this could be a savvy bet to make
- Longest Drive/Putt: A fun and potentially savvy bet to make, simply but your money on the player you think will hit the ball the furthest or sink it from furthest away from the pin. This is particularly popular for Matchups.
7) Seasonal Bets
Betting on golf isn't just restricted to individual tournaments. The golf calendar is long and busy, with both the US and European Tours hosting regular events and stretching over the best part of the whole year. A good way of betting on golf, then, is to bet on the season as a whole. The advantage of this is that, while a top player may have a bad day and struggle in a single tournament, they will usually perform well over a whole season, so your bet is (relatively) safe from shock results.
You might, for example, want to put money on the number of Majors Tiger Woods will win over a single season. Or you could put money on Woods to finish above Rose in the world rankings. Alternatively, you could put money on a player making the cut or even missing out on the Ryder Cup if it is a Ryder Cup year. As always, no matter how you choose to bet, doing your homework and reading up on form is key to standing the best chance of making money.
Hints and Tips for Betting on Golf
- Forget reputation, a player's form is the most important thing you should be looking out for. Quite simply, an average player in the form of his life may often be a better bet than a famous player in a slump, so be sure to do your homework.
- Take into account geography: Some European players struggle in hot climates, and Europeans rarely win the US Masters. Similarly, while some American players may excel on home soil, their form may be poor when the travel
- If you're new to golf betting, you may want to stick to the Majors. Smaller tournaments are often used by big stars for practice, so this type of event may not always go to form.
- Don't just look at the biggest stars, consider long-shots as well. There are plenty of occasions where little-known players finish in the top 5 of major tournaments, or even win them outright! At least consider placing an each-way bet on a lesser-known player if it looks like they are coming into an event in excellent form.
Like with all sports, betting on golf can become addictive. You need to be sure, therefore, that you are always betting responsibly. Never bet money that you can't afford to lose and be wary of placing any bets while under the influence of alcohol.
Important Information on Gambling
You must be 18+ to gamble
Every new gambling account offer has "Terms & Conditions" that will apply - make sure you read these before opening an account.
See www.gambleaware.org for help and advice on problem gambling.
Please gamble responsibly.
Further Sports Betting Reading
As well as our own YouTube videos showing you how you can make online bets we have comprehensive betting tip and advice guides, which include:
- Horse racing is still the UK's most popular sports bet. UK Net Guide have a video and a guide on How to bet on a Horse ,
- Tennis a global event with matches being played most weeks, its' not just about Wimbledon once a year in the UK! Check out our comprehensive guide on How to bet on Tennis and place bets all year round.
- How to bet on football Our YouTube video shows how to bet on the Champions League in the knock out stages. Our odds sports betting pages show you the latest odds for "Home Win", "Draw", and "Away Win".
- Cricket is now played throughout the year in Australia, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa there has never been a better time to learn How to bet on Cricket .
Further Golf Betting Reading
- Give yourself the edge over the bookies by knowing all the latest golf news. The website Golf.com is a great source of useful information (http://www.golf.com/news)
- The BBC (http://www.bbc.com/sport/0/golf/ is also a good place to keep informed about the latest news. Remember, knowing a player's recent form can help you make a smart bet!
- Read our guide to the British Open, the oldest tournament in golf.
- Learn all about the rules of golf with our comprehensive overview.
- Bookmark our top 10 golf sites from around the web to stay on top of the action.