There is a misconception amongst those that don’t know the in’s and out’s of golf betting that there’s only one bet type: finding the tournament winner.
This is, unmistakably, the most popular golf bet type offered by bookmakers up and down the land, but there’s dozens of other ways to wager on golf – many of them a better value option than the outright winner category.
The depth of market has never been more interesting for golf bettors, and if you get to know the options available to you, it’s possible to be much more strategic in your approach.
So let’s take a look at the most common golf bet types that you can find on your favourite betting sites and apps right now.
We should start with the outright winner market, which in theory requires you to back the champion of that particular event – be it on the PGA Tour, LIV Golf, LPGA Tour and so on. In reality, there are other chances to win in this category, with each way betting also an opportunity to land a return even if your selection doesn’t prevail.
The bookies offer a set number of places – let’s say, for example, that’s six places. If your player wins the tournament, you will score a full payout on your each way flutter, but if they finish anywhere between second and sixth, you will also net a return if you back them e/w.
Some bookmakers offer flexibility when it comes to your outright bet too. You can change the number of places you wish to take – the fewer the places you take, the higher the odds of your player to win. So, you might be able to back Rory McIlroy at 16/1 with just five places, which then becomes 12/1 with eight places, 10/1 with ten places and so on. You have to decide where on that spectrum you wish to be.
First Round Leader
The bookmakers offer a separate outright market for first round leader, which as the name suggests requires you to back the player that will hold the lead after 18 holes of play.
As with the outright winner market, you can back your picks ‘on the nose’ or each way, with a number of places – typically four, five or six – paid.
This is an interesting market because there’s more variance in betting on a single round – meaning that more players have a genuine chance of winning/placing here than they do over the full 72-hole, four round stretch of a tournament.
Also, there can be draw biases that favour one group of players over the other.
At full field events in golf, half the players start in the morning wave and the other half in the afternoon. As the weather changes – maybe it gets hotter throughout the day or the wind picks up – one wave of players may have a scoring advantage over the other half, handing first round leader punters an edge too.
If you fancy a player or two to do well without necessarily winning the tournament, you can back them to oblige in a number of different ‘top finish’ markets.
These range from top 5/10 finishes at the top end right down to top 30 or 40, with your appetite for risk dictating which market you wager on.
Some firms let you back top finish accas, so you can roll up a handful of players into a single top 40 finish coupon, for example.
One word of caution: top finish bets are subject to dead heat rules, so if you back a player to finish inside the top 40 and they end up tied 39th with five other players, your return will be altered accordingly.
Make/Miss the Cut
Most professional golf tournaments (apart from LIV Golf) of 150 or so players have a cutline.
Here, the top-70 players and ties with the lowest scores go on to play the final two rounds, whereas those that fall below the cutline get the weekend off – albeit they go home without being paid.
You can bet on which players you think will make or miss the cut, with accumulator options available with most bookmakers.
2-Balls & 3-Balls
Once the tee times have been revealed for the tournament, the bookmakers will price up their 2 or 3-ball games.
This pits playing partners against one another, so if McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Scottie Scheffler are grouped together, you’d be betting on which you think will play the best round.
It’s worth knowing how your bookie stands on tied bets, i.e. if your player scores the same as his or her playing partner.
Some bets will be a push, with your stake refunded, whereas others will settle as a loss.
When perusing the 2-ball or 3-ball odds, check to see if the prices are displayed as 1-X-2 or just 1-2 – this will determine how tied scores are handled.
While 2-Ball and 3-Ball betting pits a player against their partners for that particular round, the match-ups market instead pairs two players – often those at the same/similar outright odds – against one another in a hypothetical contest.
The player that shoots the lowest score for the entire tournament will be the winner as far as your match-ups bets are concerned, so it’s simply a game of deciding which players you think will outperform their rivals.
One interesting caveat is when a player misses the cut but their opponent in a match-up doesn’t; and yet the opponent goes on to shoot a higher score if the conditions are tough over the weekend.
In this case, the player that missed the cut is still considered the loser for betting purposes.
Given the unpredictability of golf tournaments, forecast betting is not for the faint hearted.
You can bet on the dual forecast, which requires you to pick out the top two finishers of a tournament in either order, or the straight forecast – here, it’s about getting the 1-2 spot on.
Scoring a forecast win is very difficult, but the odds are generous enough – Scheffler to beat McIlroy in a 1-2 is often available at 70/1 or longer as just one example.
Group betting sees the bookies pit five or more players – again, those roughly the same odds in the outright winner market – against one another.
You can access odds of 5/1 or higher in these scenarios, and only need your player to beat the others in their group to secure a payout. Some bookmakers will have groups of as many as ten players, although in this case you can often secure each way terms of three places at 1/3 odds.
Category betting is slightly different. Here, the bookmakers price up individual nationalities, such as Top British or Top American, or geographic regions of the world, i.e. Top European or Top Australasian.
Again, the object is for your chosen player to come out with a lower score than anyone else in their category.
You can usually bet each way if there’s eight or more players in a category, with some – such as Top American – offering as many as five places where there’s 40 or more players in that grouping.
There are two ways to bet on winning margin in golf: the tournament winning margin or the lead generated by a specific player.
The tournament winning margin might be one shot, two, three all the way up to four or more, or you might even wager on the event to go to a play-off with two or more players tied on the same score after 72 holes.
As for player winning margin, here you’re looking to identify a) who wins the tournament, and b) by how many shots (or in a play-off).
Again, the likely probability of striking a winning bet here is low but the odds high – you can score odds of 10/1 or longer on McIlroy to win by one or more shot in any given week.
Against the Field
A number of bookmakers offer you odds for select players and the rest of the field, allowing you to decide which outcome is most likely.
For example, you might be offered McIlroy & Scheffler versus the field, with 10/3 on the nominated duo to win or 1/5 on anybody else.
You can also find odds for three, four or five versus the field, with the odds altered accordingly.