Newcomers to golf betting often get started by trying to back the winner of a tournament – be it on the nose or each way, with some juicy prices ensuring a handsome return should your pick finish in the places.
But as they begin to explore more of the available golf betting markets, it doesn’t take long to figure out that some of the best punting value in the sport comes when wagering on the 2-ball and 3-ball options.
What on earth is a 2-ball, you might be wondering?
Read on as all will be revealed…
What is 2-Ball Betting in Golf?
With as many as 156 players in the field of an average golf tournament, it would be impossible for each of them to play the course individually – with all that waiting around on the tee, each round would take an eternity.
And so the players are typically grouped in threes (known as a 3-ball) for the opening two rounds, and once the cut has been made and the field halved, they are paired with the player next to them on the leader board (a 2-ball) for the third and fourth round.
For example, the leader at the 36-hole stage will play a 2-ball with the player in second place, third tees it up with fourth and so on.
From a betting perspective, we can wager on these 2-ball and 3-ball groupings, with our bet landing if our selected player shoots a lower score than their playing partners for that particular round.
You can bet on 2-ball and 3-ball markets as single selections, combine two, three or more in an accumulator (where all players must win for your acca to land) or perm multiple picks together in a ‘cover bet’ such as a Yankee or Patent.
2-Ball vs Match-Up Betting
There is a key difference between 2-ball and 3-ball betting and the match-up or ‘head-to-head’ style markets that many bookmakers offer.
With 2-ball or 3-ball betting, we are wagering on the outcome of that specific round.
So, if Rory McIlroy is playing with Jon Rahm in a 2-ball pairing in the third round, we are specifically betting on either Rory or Rahm to shoot a lower score than their rival in that third round of 18 holes.
The match-up betting market, meanwhile, pits one player against another in a theoretical 72-hole contest.
So, if we bet on McIlroy to beat Rahm in the match-up category, we simply want the Irishman to beat the Spaniard on the leader board at the end of the tournament.
What is Mythical 2-Ball Betting?
And there’s another distinction to be made too.
Some bookies offer what they call mythical 2-ball odds. Here, two players that aren’t paired with one another are priced up to shoot the lowest round.
So, while McIlroy is paired with Rahm in his 2-ball, the bookmakers will also offer mythical odds on Rory versus Scottie Scheffler.
Again, the objective remains the same: you are looking to back the player that you believe will shoot the lowest score in that particular round of the tournament.
2-Ball Golf Betting Rules
As is the case with many betting markets, the bookmakers have in place a set of rules governing 2-ball and 3-ball betting that you really should be aware of.
The key thing to know is exactly what you’re betting on. Some bookies offer 2-ball and 3-ball odds without the tie option – i.e. if two or more of the players in the group shoot the same score. In this case, dead heat rules apply and you will score a revised payout if your pick is one of these tied players.
At other bookmakers, 2-ball and 3-ball odds are offered with the tie option also backable. In this scenario, if your player does finish in a tie and you have backed them to win, your bet will be settled as a loss.
In some rare cases, a player will withdraw from the tournament – be it through injury, illness etc – midway through a round. Here, one hole has to have been completed for bets to stand (stakes are refunded otherwise). If your player withdraws, unfortunately your bet is settled as a loss. If an opponent withdraws, your 2-ball wager will automatically win.
A 3-ball bet will continue effectively as a 2-ball instead.
2-Ball and 3-Ball Golf Betting Strategy
No matter which golf betting market you choose to target, to be successful you will need to have a knack for predicting which players will fare well in a tournament and which won’t.
To do that, you can start with three broad criteria:
- Current form
- Course form
- Course fit
It’s easy to track current form, simply by studying the leader boards of recent events, while course form is simple to collate if the tournament is played at the same venue year in year out – that tends to be the case for the majority of PGA Tour events.
As for course fit, this can be more difficult to track, which is why an in-depth knowledge of the sport is helpful. You can use the stats pages on the PGA Tour website to offer some guidance – if a course is really long, you might comb through the Driving Distance stat to find a shortlist of players that will have an edge. If the course has small greens, those with accurate iron and wedge shots will thrive – the Strokes Gained: Approach stat will help in this case.
You may never have considered yourself an agrostologist – that’s somebody who studies different grass types, by the way, and yet this can also be a handy angle in for punters. On the PGA Tour, in the winter months events are typically played in California and the surrounding states; those courses often have Poa Annua greens, which tend to run slower and grainier in those cooler months.
As the seasons change into spring and summer, the PGA Tour tends to head east to courses laid with Bermuda or Bentgrass greens – these tend to run faster and smoother than Poa Annua.
It’s amazing how different players tend to fare better or worse than others on these specific grass types, so having that knowledge – and building up a database of the stats and facts outlined in this article – will help you to beat the bookies when it comes to betting on golf.