Guide: How to bet on Golf

Betting on golf can provide both betting value and entertainment, as a three-figure field of players typically competes for the same trophy over a four-day event. With so many potential winners, an individual golfer’s odds to win a tournament will typically be longer than during a football, cricket, rugby or tennis match, when only two possible teams or players can triumph.

There are also numerous different types of golf bets, which you can read all about in our detailed guide, as well as a year-long schedule brimming with tournaments – across more than one golf tour. You can find out more in our guide to the sport’s biggest tournaments of the year.

Golf betting value

Before you take a look at the available betting markets, or perhaps the tournaments you want to bet on on the PGA or European Tours, it’s worth brushing up on the basics of golf betting strategy. With our guide, BetCompare has you covered.

With so many players competing in the same tournament, betting on golf offers plenty of opportunity to find value. A typical field will contain players priced at 50/1 (51.0) or 100/1 (101.0), with rank outsiders even offered at odds of 250/1 (251.0) or higher. The pre-tournament favourite in a golf event will rarely sit at a price lower than 5/1 (6.0) and will commonly sit at around the 10/1 (11.0) mark.

Golfers’ prices can change drastically week to week because they are in action so often, and one missed shot can often be the difference between finishing in the top 10 or missing the cut altogether and being eliminated on just the second day of a tournament. In your pursuit of betting value, it is therefore worth studying a few key factors that can make or break a golfer’s tournament.

Player form

Like in any sport, a golfer can occasionally throw the formbook out the window. But because golf is so dependent on consistency and rhythm, a winning golfer will more often than not be a player in form.

For example, if a player is priced as a 10/1 (11.0) favourite pre-tournament but hasn’t finished in the top 20 within their previous five events, it’s worth bearing their recent form in mind before backing them. Traditionally, event winners tend to have at least one top-20 finish in the weeks leading up to a victory.

A player’s last tournament is equally always worth evaluating. While the tournament winner grabs the headlines, perhaps a player who performed exceptionally in the final round of their last tournament went under the radar and is in the perfect position to lift the trophy next time out.

A player’s overall season needs to be taken into account, too. If they haven’t won a tournament recently but have consistently placed highly, securing several top-10 finishes throughout the campaign, the chances are they will be competing at the right end of the leaderboard during their next big event.

How often a player has missed the cut is another vital statistic when assessing a golfer’s season to date. If a player has secured two top-three finishes in 10 tournaments, for instance, you may fancy their chances of placing highly in their next competition. But if you then find out they have missed the cut in eight of their other 10 events this season, their consistency would have to be called into question.

Always assess the course

In poker, it’s said the best players always play the opponent and not the cards. In golf, though, the player is always in competition with the course – which often includes the elements, such as wind, sand, water and overall course conditions.

Cases where a player’s odds are much lower than their recent form suggests may have something to do with their past performance at a certain course. In many ways, a golfer’s record at a particular course functions like a football team’s head-to-head record against the team they face next.

As many tournaments are played year in, year out at the same courses (the Masters at Augusta being the most famous example) some golfers will take a shine to particular locations – and vice versa. If you are considering betting on a golfer to win a certain tournament, or finish in the top 20 at an event, it’s always useful to know how well they’ve historically fared at the course in question.

Some players fare better in certain conditions

Several key measures can help you determine whether a golfer will perform better or worse at a particular course or during a specific set of circumstances. Some players are known to play better than the field when it’s windy, while others can outperform their opponents on longer golf courses – as they can hit the ball much further off the tee.

While some statistics may over-complicate your golf betting experience, it can be useful to look at some of the following:

Driving accuracy: This measures a golfer’s ability to hit the fairway from their tee shot. A higher driving accuracy is particularly beneficial on courses that are narrow and full of trees. Missing the fairway in such surroundings can have catastrophic effects in the most high-pressure situations.

Driving Distance – This determines how far a golfer can hit a ball off a tee. Bryson DeChambeau, Bubba Watson and Brooks Koepka are players that average over 300 yards in this category.

Greens In Regulation – This statistic is similar to driving accuracy but applies more to a golfer’s second shot; in other words how often they’ll find the green with their approach shot rather than the surrounding rough.

Putting Average – This measures the average number of putts per green. A player’s short game can often be the difference between a major winner and an also-ran.

Scrambling – This looks at how often a player gets up-and-down to make par if they’ve missed the green, be it from the rough, near the water or in a bunker. An underrated statistic, the players who can scramble the best will come out on top in trickier weather and course conditions.

Keep your options open

The beauty of golf betting can sometimes be the ability to back several different contenders without significantly raising your stake. In football, placing 10 different £1 bets on the first goalscorer market is unlikely to return much value. Due to the odds available in golf, however, a sum like £10 can go a long way if you spread your bets.

While you are free to stake as you wish, an alternative to placing £10 on one golfer to win a tournament is to back him £5 each way to provide a form of insurance, or to back 5-10 different golfers to win or finish highly.

If the favourite is 7/1 (8.0), for instance, you could bet £2 on that player and £1 on eight other players with varying prices like 20/1 (21.0), 50/1 (51.0) or 75/1 (76.0). The options can be endless and, whatever you plan to stake, spreading your bankroll across multiple wagers can often be a useful strategy when betting on golf.

In golf betting, you can also narrow your focus and choose to bet on a specific group, such as three players who have teed off together and play the course alongside each other. Bookmakers can equall offer group or head-to-head betting on rivals who are not in the same group on the course, allowing you to spread your attention across the tournament.

Seek out the in-play bets

When learning how to bet on golf, it’s important to account for the timeframe you have to bet on a tournament compared to sporting events with a lower duration – like football matches, tennis matches, formula one races and especially horse races. Ultimately, golf betting is unique in that you can place an in-play bet in between rounds, when there is no actual play going on.

With the standard golf event played over four days, in a stroke play format (which means the lowest score under par wins, as opposed to match play), you have the unique chance to bet in-play over an unusually large period of time. For instance, if the first round of a tournament has been completed, you will have a strong indication not just of a player’s driving, chipping and putting that season – but an indication of exactly how they are playing right here, right now.

If a pre-tournament favourite has fallen way out of contention, in-play betting allows you to watch players on their first round and bet on someone you think can go all the way. The same principle, of course, applies to the second, third and fourth rounds, while betting during a round itself can also be extremely advantageous.

If a tournament leader was several shots clear of the chasing pack but hit a triple bogey on his first hole, there could be value in picking out one of the chasers when betting in-play. Just because a golf tournament has started, the betting doesn’t stop. And, unlike other sports, golf betting allows you to take your time and make a patient decision.

After all, you have another four days in which to consider your bet from the first tee – and the odds should still be appealing throughout the tournament. Another option when there is a heavy favourite is similar to laying on a sports betting exchange; indeed, if you are confident one specific player won’t win a tournament, you can bet against them in the ‘player vs the field’ market.

Matchplay betting

As we’ve already mentioned, golf is not always played in the same format – even though the majority of tournaments involve stroke play over four days. By contrast, match play tournaments see players (and sometimes teams) going head-to-head across 18 holes.

Here, the principles are still the same but the method of victory is slightly different, while knowledge of a player’s temperament in a head-to-head environment is crucial. The biggest example of a match play tournament is the Ryder Cup.

During the Ryder Cup, players from the USA and Europe compete in singles matches, fourballs and foursomes, and the bi-annual event generates some of the biggest action in golf betting. In match play situations and competitions, it’s worth taking into account the more unpredictable nature of proceedings, especially as the draw now becomes a potential outcome.

For example, in 2012, Team Europe trailed Team USA 10-4 before the final day. But, producing what became known as the ‘Miracle at Medinah,’ Europe dominated the last day’s singles matches to win the Cup with a 14.5-13.5 scoreline.

Make the most of the majors

A final strategy to adopt when learning how to bet on golf is to take advantage of offers and opportunities during the majors. With four majors a year – the Masters, the Open, the PGA Championship and the US Open – public interest in golf is rarely higher than during one of these tournaments.

As such, bookmakers will likely offer far more odds boosts, bonuses, free bet and sign up offers during one of the majors than during the smaller tournaments. Due to the pressure and prestige associated with the majors, there is also every chance a long-odds outsider triumphs.

When Tiger Woods won his first major in 11 years at the 2019 Masters, for instance, even that was considered a shock victory, with many ruling out his chances of winning a major ever again years prior. And, when Patrick Reed won the 2018 Masters, it marked the ninth time in 10 majors a player had become a first-time major winner.

In addition to a wide range of victors, the highest amount of data will be available leading into a major, as there will be more statistics on record and greater media interest. Players will give interviews assessing their games and often give honest appraisals of their chances going into the weekend.

So be sure to make use of the extra attention a major golf tournament will create – both for the golfers themselves and the bookmakers. Be sure, too, to always compare before you bet.