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Betting on golf always proves popular with a bookmakers’ client base, with many golf betting punters heading to the outright markets in search of a big priced winning selection.
Golf is a sport which regularly delivers huge priced winners, where a selection winning at 50/1 is nothing out of the ordinary on any given week. With the professional game now so rich in talent, large competitive fields make calling a tournament winner an absolutely mine-field and, whilst this is certainly true for gamblers, it’s worth remembering that the same is true for bookmakers who will be looking out for the same trends and patterns as any clued up golf betting punter.
When talking to golf traders about how the approach any given tournament, they will invariably talk to you about current form, course form over the years and specific statistics which they like to consider when assessing any given players odds.
Current form is extremely important when betting on golf. It may sound obvious, but many people ignore this basic consideration when picking their selections. At the time of writing, Tiger Woods hasn’t won a golf tournament since 2009, yet the 14-time Major Champion is still being backed religiously by many on the back of his former successes week after week. Tiger may, one day, return to somewhere near his best, but the market has consistently over-rated his chances of success since his return without any real evidence of that form coming back.
Course form plays a hugely influential part in the consideration of the golf compilers. Sometimes players will have particular knowledge of a course – perhaps it is their home course which they practice on regularly – and this knowledge can often be worth several shots over a tournament - enough to lift a player from a top-10 contender, to outright victor.
Golf isn’t as simple as the best player being the biggest hitter, the most accurate driver, having the best short game and putting most efficiently on the putting green. While its certainly true that the best players in the world will always be accomplished in all these areas, some players are particularly good in just one or two areas and this can often translate into consistent course form over a number of years. This also allows skilled golf betting traders and punters to identify tracks where a player may over-perform.
A course with particularly tight fairways rewards accurate drivers, while some courses play longer or shorter depending on their layout. Get a little left or right off the tee at Augusta for instance, and you are in for a very frustrating day on course. Golf really is horses for courses, and it’s important to identify the particular course characteristics before narrowing your shortlist ahead of any tournament. When you know what type of player you are looking for, always have a good look at the relevant statistics – you can be sure the bookmaker will have done. Do you need a player with excellent Greens In Regulation stats, or a big hitter to gobble up the yardage?
Finally, it’s always worth weighing up the e/w terms offered by various bookmakers. Paddy Power and Boylesports for instance have gone all out recently to gain business in many of the Majors by offering first 6 places, then 7 places, up to an incredible 8 places in some 2011 Majors. While this offer leaves their place market considerably under-broke and likely to cost them money, they hope to make good profits from bringing in more bets on the winner, as well as acquiring new customers who may bring repeat business over the coming months and years.
Offering the extra places does however mean they cannot afford to be best price about many runners at all, so you may have the decision to back a player at ¼ odds for first 8 places at 40/1, or head elsewhere for 66/1, but only get ¼ for the first six places. A tough decision and one with no “right answer”. Use your best judgement to balance getting a big price, with a good chance of a place payout.
Aside from the tournament winner market, you can also bet on a host of outright derivatives, such as Top 5, Top 10, Top 20, and Top Nationality (e.g. Top American, Top Englishman) etc.
Another popular set of markets are the tournament match bets (who will finish higher out of two named players) which allow you to both bet with a player whom you fancy to do well, or oppose a player whom you believe has had his chances overrated.
“Two Balls” and “Three Balls” work in a similar way to match-bets, but you are placing bets on these just over the duration of the next day’s play – so effectively an 18-hole bet. These will typically be offered between the players who are playing together on course that day, although some firms will also offer “mythical three-balls”, grouping a set of equally matched players together for competitive prices.
In-Play most bookmakers will always offer the tournament winner betting, but many will also offer “next hole winner” between two televised players or “next hole score” about the best players who are being shown on the TV coverage. Always head to the official tournament websites to check out the hole statistics for all the players, and remember, the pin may move around a particular green from day-to-day during a tournament – potentially altering how tough a particular hole may play.
Finally, when betting on golf, always remember that professional tournaments have large fields and, as a result, the first players to tee off generally hit the course pretty early in the morning to ensure all the action gets completed on the day. With all European and PGA Tour events starting on a Thursday, you’ll be well advised to place your golf bets on a Wednesday night for the European events, or risk missing out altogether. PGA tournaments go off slightly later, so you can afford to bet on Thursday mornings.