As the sports world slowly recovers the PGA Tour’s outdoor environs and lack of physical contact make golf the perfect supplement to any sportsbook’s big board.
Whether you like to gamble at top PGA Tour betting sites or through a casino or sportsbook, learning how to wager on the links effectively can be a challenge for newcomers.
On that note, the list below covers everything you need to know about nine easy ways to introduce yourself to the land of golf betting.
1. Betting on Midseason PGA Tour Tournaments
First things first… for the last 105 years and counting, the PGA Tour has hosted professional golf tournaments in America and abroad. During a normal year, golf fans have up to four dozen tournaments of various size and scope to look forward to throughout the season.
In the vast majority of these tournaments, 150 or so golfers will hit the links to compete for their share of a multimillion-dollar prize pool. Events traditionally begin on Thursday with the full field in play, before scoring averages create a “cut” line after the first two rounds which whittles the field in half down to the top performers.
From there, a four-day tournament culminates on Sunday with the final round, and whomever cards the lowest score against the course’s 72-hole par is declared the champion.
As you might imagine, having so many golfers to choose from – along with variables such as course design and condition, weather, and recent form – makes betting on a tournament’s outright champion a veritable crapshoot.
Just take a look at the opening odds for the 2020 3M Open, which was recently held at TPC Sawgrass in Minnesota:
3M OPEN WINNER ODDS (TOP-15) BEFORE TOURNAMENT BEGAN
|Erik Van Rooyen||+3300|
As you can see, not a single golfer in the field offers futures betting odds better than (+1100) – also read as 11 to 1 on your money. The 3rd-ranked golfer in the world, Dustin Johnson – who won earlier this season at the Travelers Championship with an absurd (-19) score – takes the cake atop the betting totem pole.
But because golf is subject to so much randomness on a week-to-week basis, even Johnson offers relatively inflated odds on an outright victory. The PGA Tour circa 2020 is all about parity, so you won’t see powerhouses like the New England Patriots or L.A. Lakers offering odds close to even money.
Instead, the average tournament’s opening betting board typically looks like the one above.
Of course, at can cause a certain bit of inherent variance for bettors, but get a load of those juicy odds in the middle of the pack. You can take a $100 flier on defending 3M Open champ Matthew Wolff at (+2200) – and if he repeats, you’ll earn a cool $2,200 in return.
And don’t forget about the longshots either…
Earlier this season, Daniel Berger survived an intense playoff round to win the Charles Schwab Challenge as a massive (+8000) underdog. And in PGA Tour history, several eventual champions started on Thursday as (+30000) dogs, earning 300 to 1 on their money for bettors bold enough to back them.
Most golf bettors try to handicap the field, pick a handful of golfers to target, and hope one or more of them is in contention when Sunday morning arrives.
2. Betting on the PGA Tour’s Four “Major” Tournaments
If you noticed a distinct lack of star power on the betting board above, that’s par for the course (to borrow an expression from golfing lingo).
With so many tournaments on the schedule, the game’s greatest names generally pick and choose when they play by skipping some of the less prestigious or lower paying events.
Their goal is to keep as much gas in the tank as they can for their sport’s crown jewels – the four Major tournaments that make up pro golf’s “Grand Slam.”
The Grand Slam consists of four events:
- The PGA Championship
- The British Open
- The U.S. Open
- The Masters
The Players Championship is often regarded as golf’s unofficial “fifth Major,” so feel free to consider it for this entry’s purposes as well.
And as you can see below, Majors like the 2020 PGA Championship are stacked with elite talent from several generations:
2020 PGA CHAMPIONSHIP WINNER ODDS (TOP-15) BEFORE TOURNAMENT BEGAN
You’ll find the legendary Tiger Woods and his 15 career Major titles in the mix at a respectable (+1600), following his rousing return to form in the 2019 Masters. Other notable names with multiple Major trophies on their mantle include Rory McIlroy (4 / +800), Brooks Koepka (4 / +1200), and Jordan Spieth (3 / +3300).
Major tournaments are where the cream rises to the crop, and experience goes a long way when the going gets tough on the final round’s back nine.
The name of the Major game is withstanding pressure and keeping a cool head, so try to look for players who have been there and done that, so to speak.
3. Bet on Big Favorites to Bomb Out and Miss the Cut
On the other end of the spectrum, you can also wager on whether or not a player will wind up being “cut” after two rounds of play.
Well, after a disastrous opening round score of 78 left him 7 strokes over par – and dead last in the field – he was headed to a surefire cut before withdrawing altogether.
And if you had the moxie to bet on him doing so ahead of time, you’d collect a sweet $550 return on a $100 bet at (+550) odds.
Remember, golf is a game defined by wild swings in performance, mental focus, and momentum. Last week’s world-beater can become this week’s lunch with just a single poorly played hole.
You’ll face stiffer odds, naturally, but turning $100 into a $33 profit at (-300) every week is a smart way to sustain your bankroll.
4. Bet on Who Will Top the Leaderboard after Round 1
Well, condensing the futures betting described earlier into a one-day, Round 1 whirlwind is the next best thing.
You’ll generally find the same group of golfers atop the Round 1 leader betting board, and their odds will be largely the same too.
But instead of a four-round marathon, they simply need to enjoy a fast start out of the gate to cash your ticket.
5. Bet on One Golfer to Beat Another in a “Head-to-Head” Matchup
Aside from the final pairing on Sundays, golfers don’t really compete against one another on any individual basis.
Their goal is simply to crush the course with enough Birdies and Eagles to amass the lowest score come Sunday.
But modern online sportsbooks have introduced “Head-to-Head” wagers as a wonderful workaround in that regard.
Essentially, you’ll see several pairings between high-profile golfers in an odds format shown below:
- Brooks Koepka (-135) vs. Patrick Cantlay (+110)
- Tiger Woods (-155) vs. Phil Mickelson (+140)
- Bryson Dechambeau (-200) vs. Sergio Garcia (+200)
Simply pick your side and hope they outduel their opponent over the entire tournament, or within an individual round, to bag the cash.
6. Bet on a Golfer to Record a Top-5 Finish
More risk-averse bettors tend to shy away from outright championship wagers, opting instead for a more comfortable Top-5 range.
In other words, if your golfer manages to turn in one of five lowest scorecards in the field, you’ll cash a ticket in return.
The payout odds on these bets are obviously lower than those offered by “bullseye” bets on a champion, but you’ll see the same familiar names in the Top-5 from week to week.
7. Bet on a Golfer to Record a Top-10 or Top-20 Finish
This is an expansion of the previous entry, just with a lower bar to clear in order to cash.
8. Bet on Which Player Will Represent His Nation
Golf is a global game, both in terms of the venues and the players who compete on Tour.
That means you can bet on which player will fly their country’s flag highest by scoring lowest overall.
For example, in the aforementioned 3M Open, a trio of British / Irish golfers offered odds as follows:
- Tommy Fleetwood (+120)
- Russell Knox (+900)
- Seamus Power (+1600)
9. Bet on a Golfer to Sink the Rare “Hole in One” on a Par 3
Anyone who’s ever watched a tournament held at the TPC Sawgrass in Florida likely remembers the 17th hole well.
There, golfers line up from 132 yards out and take aim at the course’s famed “Island Green.” With water on all sides, the risk of incurring a disastrous penalty by splashing down can rattle even the most experienced out there.
Also known as an “Ace,” or simply a hole in one, shots like this get the crowd going like nothing else in golf.
The 2020 PGA Championship returns to TPC Sawgrass, which means you can wager on whether your favorite golfer will turn the trick this time around:
2020 PGA CHAMPIONSHIP HOLE IN ONE ON 17th ODDS
Any chance to turn a $10 punt into a $1,250 or $1,500 windfall is worth a shot, and if your golfer shoots it perfectly, you just might cash in on their accuracy (and a little good luck).
Wagering on golf, and even simply watching the sport itself, can admittedly be disorienting for rookie bettors. Nonetheless, all it takes is your horse making the last group on a sunny Sunday afternoon to hook you for life.
For my money, sweating a golf bet over the course of a four-day tournament provides the most bang for your buck around. I hope these tips help guide you successfully into the wild world of golf betting.