Golf betting has rapidly grown in popularity over the last decade or so. One of the main attractions to betting on the sport is the pricing that can be obtained. Due tot ehf act that most field sizes are well in excess of 100 players, it means that the odds for each player can be very high. In fact, even a ‘short priced favourite’ is usually no smaller than around 6/1 to win a competition. If you compare that with just about any other sport, it will highlight just how lucrative backing a winner in golf can be.

Another reason to the sports betting popularity is the fact that golf is pretty much played 52 weeks of the year. There are certain times which are regarded as peak times, such as April to September, which includes the four majors in this period, but the only time that tournaments aren’t taking place somewhere in the world is over a two week period between Christmas and New Year. The ability to wager on top class, professional competition throughout that time is something few sports can offer and why golf is a popular choice, especially for professional bettors.

Golf Tours

PGA Tour

The PGA Tour is widely regarded as the most prestigious of all the golf tours in the sports right now. It includes the biggest tournaments, with the highest prize funds and the best players competing each week. The PGA Tour has been running since 1929, and since 1994 has been run by Tim Finchem who is widely regarded as the driving force behind the tours success today. The PGA Tour also has a number of smaller tours such as the Champions Tour (for players over the age of 50), Web.com Tour (for professionals yet to qualify for the PGA Tour), PGA Tour Canada, PGA Tour Latinoamerica and more recently, PGA Tour China.

The Tour runs for the majority of the year and includes events all over America. They also include a handful of events outside of the US, most notably the CIMB Classic in Malaysia, which is the first PGA Tour event sanctioned outside of the US. They are widely reported to be in discussion to offer up more events outside of the US, such has been the positive response of the CIMB in Malaysia.

The season pretty much follows the weather in the US, starting off in January at Hawaii. It then works it’s way around California and Arizona, before moving to the South and South East towards the autumn months. Each section is often referred to as a ‘swing’, such as the ‘West Coast Swing’ and the ‘Southeast Swing’. Players tend to paly around 20 to 30 tournaments a year and must either have event exemption, qualify or be invited to each event.

The highest profile events on tour include the Players Championship, 4 World Gold Championship events, Honda Classic, Buick Invitational and the Sony Open. Throughout each season the players will work their way towards the Fed Ex Cup, which is an accumulation of points earned throughout the season from each tournament. At the end of each season the top 120 players in ranking points will enter into the Fed Ex cup where they will paly out for the chance to win a 1st place prize at the end of $10million. The Fed ex Cup is played over 4 events, starting with The Barclays, Deutsche Bank Championship, BMW Championship, before the finale that is the Tour Championship. After each round the field will be cut and the top 100, then 70 and finally 30 players will advance through.

The winner of the money list often regarded as the best player from that season of the PGA Tour. In 2015 Jordan Spieth broke the record for most money won in a single year just over $12million, $1.5million more than that of Vijay Singh in 2004. But, it’s Tiger Woods who holds a barrage of records on tour with the most overall prize money won with $110million, some $23million more than that of Phil Mickleson in 2nd place. Woods also has the most player of the year awards with 11 and most money titles with 10.

European Tour

The European Tour is the prize tour for those players wanting to compete in and around Europe. It lives in the shadows somewhat to that of PGA Tour, but it’s status is highly regarded amongst most, with huge numbers of money involved The tour has been running since 1972, making it young in comparison, but the way in which it is run allows them to be much more flexible in terms of where they hold events, often outside of Europe.

In an effort to increase exposure of the tour and also to increase the overall standard, the European Tour has ventured to many countries outside of Europe. To be honest, whilst it’s name is still very much Europe dominated, the tour is these days much more about the global appeal of golf, holding events in the middle east, China, India, Africa and even the Americas.

The tour is all about the Race to Dubai, which is the equivalent of the PGA Tour’s Fed Ex Cup. Points are scored with each tournament that is played on tour and the players whoa re ranked within the 60 on the list will then take part in the Dubai World Tour Championship in November, signalling the end of the European Tour season. The prize money on offer is that of $8million, with the winner getting a cool $1.5million. Since the tournament has moved to Dubai, it’s reported that it delivers upwards of $44million in gross economic benefit to Dubai.

Lee Westwood, one of the European Tour’s stalwart ambassadors, is the leading career money winner on tour with over £31million in earnings. Colin Montgomerie has won more Golfer of the Year titles than anyone else with 4 and Seve Ballesteros has won more European Tour events, with a staggering 50 to his name.

LPGA

The LPGA is the Ladies Professional Golf Association and the strongest female only tour in the world. The tour has actually been running since 1950, but it’s only been over the last 20 years where the standard of play and in turn, prize money has really started to increase. In fact, in 2014 the tour reported that prize money had surpassed the $56million mark, which was an increase of almost $15 million from the same time 5 years prior to that.

The US women dominated the tour for the majority of the early years, but an influx of both European and especially Asian players has seen this shift somewhat with 31-40 major champions in 2000 – 2009 being non-Americans.

The LPGA has 5 major tournaments on their roster, compared with just 4 in the men’s games. These are the ANA Inspiration, Women’s PGA Championship, IS Women’s Open, Ricoh Women’s British Open and The Evian Championship. Similarly to the men’s game, they have a tour ending tournament in the form of the LPGA Playoffs, which includes the top 120 players on tour generating a total prize pool of $1.5million with $225,000 going to that of the winner.

Champions Tour

The Champions Tour has been running since 1980 and is available to players who are over the age of 50. Most players will have played some form of professional golf in the form of the PGA Tour or the European Tour, but there are some who qualify after having no experience of either. The tour is seen as a way for players to continue playing competitive golf, but on much more level playing field. Golfers such as Bernhard Langer and Colin Montgomerie have had resurgent carries as a result of the Champions Tour.

The tour itself is primarily set out in the US, but there are events outside of these borders such as the British Open along with tournaments in the Dominican Republic, Canada and in 2010, South Korea. The purse throughout the 2010 season was reported to be in excess of $50million, with almost $2million up for grabs in each event that they play.

Similarly to the PGA Tour, the men also have an end of season paly off tournament, called the Charles Schwab Cup. This includes the top 72 players in the money list from throughout the season with $440,000 going to the winner.

Hale Irwin has won more money on the Champions Tour than any other player, with over $26million, $6million more than second place Gil Morgan. Bernhard Langer has won the most money list titles, with 7 in total. In fact, what makes Langer’s feat even more impressive is that he won 7 from 8 money lists from 2008 to 2015.

Major Tournaments

Masters

The Masters is the first of four majors on the golfing calendar and is widely regarded as one of the most prestigious events on tour. The tournament has been running since 1943 at Augusta National Golf Club, Georgia. The whole site of the course is one of absolute beauty and the state of the course is easily one of the best in the business. In fact, it’s been reported that they take so much care with the aesthetics of the course, if a branch needs to be cut from a tree, they will paint over where it’s been cut from as not to stick out! The Masters is also unique in that it’s the only one of the four majors to be played on the same course every year.

The tournament will take place our 4 rounds starting on a Thursday in April and finishing up on the Sunday. Each play will paly 36 holes to start with, then the tournament will endure a cut, meaning about 1/3rd of the field will be removed and not play at the weekend. The weekend’s matches will just be in two balls, whereas the first 3 days were in 3 balls. The best score after 72 holes will be crowned the winner and a playoff used if two or more players are tied at that time.

Jack Nicklaus has the most Masters wins of any other player, with 6 in total and he was also the oldest winner of the event at the age of 46 years and 82 days in 1986. Gary Player has played more Masters events than any other player, with 52 appearances in total. He also holds the record for most consecutive cuts with 23.

US Open

The US Open is the second of the four majors that takes place on the third Sunday of June, which just so happens to fall on fathers day. The tournament is revered as one of the toughest tests in golf with only a handful of the toughest US golf course chosen to host such an event. Unlike the Masters, the US Open will jump to a new course every year, often searching out which will be the toughest. The US open also has the highest aggregate score of any major, underlining just how difficult a test it can be.

The tournament, like most, will span over 4 days, starting on the Thursday and then working through until the Sunday. The field for a US Open is much larger than most with around 160 players starting out. After two rounds a cut will be made with around half the field being removed. The remaining players then take part over 36 holes through Saturday and Sunday, with the player that has the lowest aggregate score after 72 holes being crowned the winner.

Jack Nicklaus, Willie Anderson, Bobby Jones and Ben Hogan hold the record with 4 victories each in the US Open, the lowest amount for any one player in major history. Interestingly, there has only ever been 6 players who have shot all 4 rounds under par in the tournaments history, with only two of those players failing to go on an win the event. Rory McIlroy holds the record for most strokes under par with 16 under in 2011.

The Open

The Open is the oldest of the four majors, after it was first held in 1860, over 150 years ago. The tournament is always held in the British Isles and interestingly there are only 10 courses that are on the rota to hold The Open; 5 in Scotland, 4 in England and 1 in Northern Ireland. The courses are picked on two attributes; it must be a links style course and the difficulty must be extremely high. Probably the most famous venue for The Open is that of St Andrews in Scotland, often referred to as the ‘Home of Golf’.

The tournament follows pretty much the same format as any other of the four majors in that the field – often around the 160 mark – is then reduced after 36 holes by the ‘cut’. The remaining players then play another 36 holes – 72 in total – before the player with the lowest score is then crowned the winner. The Open also recognises who will be the lowest amateur for the tournament as well, picking up the Silver Medal. An ammeter will have to at worst make the cut to be awarded this.

One of the most bizarre yet entertaining records that The Open holds are the current oldest and youngest winners of the event. The oldest winner is that of Old Tom Morris who won at the age of 46 in 1867. The winner of the youngest was that of Young Tom Morris who won at the age of 17, just a year after his dad in 1868. Harry Vardon has the most Open victories with 6 in total and Jack Nicklaus holds the most runners up finishes with 7.

PGA Championship

The PGA Championship is the final major of the season, and the last chance a player has of capping off a successful season with a major. Like the two majors it prevails, the location of the event will move each year around the US, looking for tough courses but possibly not on the same scale as the US Open, with parkland courses being included along with coastal courses for this event. The tournament will usually take place in mid-august, prior to Labour Day weekend in the US.

The tournament structure will be very familiar to most in that there are 4 rounds played from Thursday through to Sunday. In that time players will paly 36 holes before a cut is made and the field is drastically reduced. The remaining players will then play the final 36 holes to find a champion. In the event of a tie, players will go into a sudden-death playoff.

Jack Nicklaus and Walter Hagen are the two most decorated players in the tournaments history with 5 wins apiece. Nicklaus also holds the record for most runner-up finishes, with 4.

Golf Bets

Outright winner

Betting on the outright winner is the most popular bet type in golf betting. It’s a pretty simple concept in that you need to select who will win the tournament for the bet to be successful. Bets, if needed, will be based on the winner of a playoff, should two or more players tie score after the tournament has been completed.

One of the best things about the outright winner market in golf is that the odds are always massively favourable for the punter, although sifting through hundreds of players to make just one selection is often very tough. As we mentioned at the start of this article, a clear favourite could be priced as long as 15/1, which is almost unheard of for a favourite in any other sport.

Each way betting

The each way bet means that you will essentially split your stake into two bets; the first being on your bet to win the tournament and the second for that player to finish within the place spots (usually around 6 places with most bookies). Again, because of the huge odds on offer, each way betting is very popular with punters, as even place bets at a quarter of the odds will still be more than lucrative.

An example might be that you back a golfer at odds of 40/1 each way. You stake £10 in total, making £5 go on the win and £5 go on the place. The bookmaker in question is paying 6 places for the place bet at ¼ odds. Your pick manages to finish second, which means you lose the ‘to win’ part of the bet, but you win the place part. ¼ odds of 40/1, reduces that to 10/1, meaning your £5 place bet still returns a tidy £50 for your troubles.

As a final point on the example above, a 40/1 place bet might seem like a rank outsider, but in all honesty, because of how golf is priced, it really isn’t, and often a 40/1 bet will still have a really strong chance of winning the whole tournament should they have a good week.

Group betting

Group betting is a little lower variance than most bets and will allow you to simply back the winner of the group that they are playing. For those of you that don’t know, for the first two days of the tournament – at least – players will head out in groups of 3, meaning that instead of betting on one player to win the whole thing, you can bet on one player to win out of their group of 3.

The odds of group betting will be much less than that of backing the overall winner, but in turn the variance will also be much lower, often making for a more engaging bet. These types of bets are also great for combining as multiple bets or accumulators, if you prefer.

Top country

Betting on the top country means that you need to select the nationality of the player(s) you think will win the event. SO, instead of choosing the exact player, you can simply pick a country where that player resides.

These types of bets are good when there are a couple of players from the same country who you think might have a chance. Obviously betting on a PGA Tour event is going to be massively stacked towards an American winner due to the number of American’s in the field, but if you target a European Tour, where the mix of players and their countries is much more diverse, then these types of markets really start to come into their own.

1st Round Leader

The first round leader market is pretty self-explanatory really. You need to bet on who you think will be leading after the first round and only the first round, meaning that what they do after this in the tournament is irrelevant.

For these types of bets to be successful you need to look out for explosive players who are great at getting out the blokes quickly. For example, Dustin Johnson is a player who can simply rip a course to shreds with his distance. What many PGA Tour events do is set the course up in a much more golf-friendly manor for the first day and as the week goes on, increases difficulty. Whilst the course was in its ‘easy’ stage he was able to go out and make multiple birdies, but what you found is that as it toughened up, especially over the weekend he would fade away somewhat under the pressure – although not always, as he’s taken down the US Open!

Johnson averages 68.23 strokes in the first round of any event on the PGA Tour at the time of writing, and these stats are going to be crucial to take into account when forming your bets for this market.

Betting rules

Golf betting rules aren’t all too dissimilar to that of other sports, but there are a few interpretations of each rule, which you must be aware of. As ever, we recommend that you contact your bookmaker for a more specific rule set for each rule.

Dead heats

Dead heats are the most common form of betting rule that is research amongst online golf bettors. First off, there are no dead heats when it comes to the winner of an event. It will always be played out as a play off if two or more players are tied after the conclusion to the tournament.

The dead heat rule applies for place bets, where two or more players are tied for a certain position. Bear in mind that place bets will work for an actual place bet and also for the place bet of an each way golf bet.

If a dead heat occurs then your stake will be divided between the number of players in that dead heat. So, if you backed a golfer to finish in the top 5 and they finish in a tie for 5th place with 3 other players then you will simply divide your stake by 3, but price that you originally took will still be the same.

Postponed and abandoned tournaments

If a golf tournament is either abandoned or postponed due to circumstances such as bad weather then all outright winner bets will be settled upon the official announcement of the overall winner. Sometimes this may be taken from the end of the round prior to the abandonment or sometimes the tournament is deemed a non-runner. If the later is the case, then all bets will be void and then be returned.

In instances where the event has completed rounds or bets have been settled, such as 1st/2nd round leaders etc. the bets will remain settled and paid out accordingly.

Player withdrawal

If a player withdraws prior to them hitting their first shot then all bets on that player or that are affected by that player will be void and returned. If a player has hit their first shot and then withdraws later in the round then all unsettled bets such as outright, group match or 18 hole bets will be deemed as lost.