How To Bet On Golf

Golf is one of the world’s oldest and most popular sports, and it is no surprise that it has been at the forefront of the online sports betting boom that has exploded during the last 20 years.

The sport combines big fields of potential winners, plenty of action, with most golf tournaments taking place over four days and a strong element of chance, as weather, unlucky lies, or nerves can play havoc with even the most talented golfer’s performance. All of these factors combine to make it the perfect betting sport, and all over the world, golf is consistently one of the most popular betting sports.

Golf Betting Markets

As with most sports, bookmakers have brought a great deal of ingenuity to golf betting and they have developed a wide range of betting options, though these are the most popular:

Tournament Winner

This is the standard golf betting market, and the one that sees the most betting action for each tournament. While top class players on a hot streak facing little opposition may be quoted at short odds, most players will be available at double-figure odds. Trawling through a big field of contenders may take some dedication and hard work, but the rewards if you get it right can be significant.

First Round Leader

If you fancy a player to carry over their strong recent form into a new tournament, but doubt their ability to go on and win the thing, then betting on the identity of the leader after the first round could be an option, although this can be a volatile market, particularly in tricky weather conditions.

Top Player

Another popular golf market is based around the top player from each geographical area. Typically, these will involve betting on the Top European or the Top American and these markets have the advantage of narrowing down the field of study, creating a tournament within a tournament.

Winning Margin

Is one player going to run away with the tournament, or are you predicting a close contest over the final holes? Betting on the winning margin involves betting on how many strokes the winner will beat the rest of the field by. Caution is generally the rule in this market, as most golfers will be focused on winning the tournament rather than opening up a big gap on the rest, and a one-stroke win is as good as a five-stroke win. These markets also give you the option of betting on whether there will be a playoff, which is used to decide tournaments in which two or more players finish tied.

Betting on Golf Matchups

While there are occasions in which golfers compete head to head, most notably in team events such as the Ryder Cup or Matchplay tournaments, golf is usually an individual sport, with each player pitting their skills against a field of over 100 rival professionals.

Yet in the betting world, the format of Player A versus Player B will always appeal to punters and bookmakers meet that demand by offering various one-on-one betting markets during golf tournaments. These markets effectively create ‘matchups’ between two players, based either on how they perform in a particular round, or in the whole tournament. The beauty of these markets is in their simplicity, and their similarity to traditional money line betting.

With many golf tournaments featuring fields of 150 or more players, there are plentiful opportunities for match-up pairings, though the markets will typically focus on the more fancied players. A typical match-up betting market might look like this:

  • Rory McIlroy    -110
  • Tiger Woods    +120

In this market, the player who finishes the round or the tournament (depending on the terms of the market) with the best score, wins the match-up. In the event of a tie, bets are refunded (although it is important to check out the precise terms and conditions for your bet before making it).

Each Way or Win Betting?

Often the decision on whether to bet to win or each way is a matter of personal preference. Some punters prefer the additional security offered by an each-way bet, being prepared to pay out a larger stake for the added insurance of a small profit if their selection earns a place. Others like to keep things simple, focusing all of their staking power on the win only bet, maximising their potential profit.

Yet when it comes to golf betting, there’s a clear answer to the win or each way bet. When you’re betting on golf, it almost always pays to bet each way.

The reason for this is that sportsbooks, in order to compete in a crowded betting sector, are offering ever more generous place terms, particularly on the big events. In most sports with several competitors, such as horse racing, place terms may be offered down to third or sometimes fourth, but in golf tournaments, it is common for bookmakers to pay out on place bets for golfers who finish fifth or sixth. In some cases, we’ve seen place odds offered down to tenth place!

This may seem generous but it is a commercial decision on the part of the sportsbooks, who are increasingly prepared to take a hit on the place betting markets, in order to attract customers. The bottom line for golf punters is that it makes sense to bet each way in markets where bookmakers are offering generous place betting terms and most competitors are backable at big odds


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