The ultimate guide to betting on live golf

The swings a gambler can experience with their golfer coming down the back nine on Sunday are some of the most exciting in all of sports.

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As the sports betting industry continues to grow, gambling on sports has turned into the reason for a lot of people to tune in to an event. Golf is no different. With the young talent currently coming up on the PGA Tour, now is a perfect time to get into golf betting. The swings a gambler can experience with their golfer coming down the back nine on Sunday are some of the most exciting in all of sports. Live betting has introduced a new way for the gambler to break into this growing market.

Introduction to golf betting

Futures

There are a few key wagering types available to bettors when it comes to golf. The first is simply betting on who will win a tournament, also known as futures. Typically, the favorite to win a four-day tournament will have odds under +1000. For example, Rory McIlroy is currently the favorite to win The Masters. His odds are +650. A $100 bet on Rory to win would pay $650. This is the most popular golf betting style available, but also one of the more challenging to win.

Golf futures can also be placed on competitors to finish in the top 5, top 10, or even top 20. With countless variables contributing to the outcome of a 165 person golf tournament, oftentimes selecting a golfer to finish in the top 10 is the smarter bet to make.

Matchup betting

The next style of golf betting offered by sportsbooks is matchups. This most closely resembles what a bettor may be accustomed to in other sports such as the NFL or NBA. This wagering type places odds on head-to-head matchups between two golfers. Instead of attempting to pick a winner for the whole tournament, the goal of the bettor is to pick who will finish higher in the overall standings between two golfers. Odds may look something like the following:

US Open – (Full Tournament Matchup)

Brooks Koepka -130      Justin Thomas +115

Matchups are also offered in the style of three balls. On the PGA Tour, the first and second rounds are typically played in groups of three. Sportsbooks will offer betting odds for all three competitors, as opposed to just two. 

PGA Championship – (round 2 three ball)

Jordan Spieth +220     Brooks Koepka +180     Dustin Johnson +200

Props and other golf betting types

There are a myriad of other golf props and additional wager types available to bettors. Most sportsbooks will offer everything from “will there be a hole in one” to “who will be the highest finishing American golfer.” Another style that has garnered some popularity is betting on who will make the cut. A PGA Tour event is broken up into four days. After the second day, a cut is made and only the top 65 plus ties are to continue playing over the weekend. Because of this aspect unique to golf, it allows for bets to be placed on predicting golfers that will play all four rounds and those who will be sent home after two. 

Live betting

Live betting – sometimes called in-game betting – is a gambling style that is taking off in popularity across all sports, with golf being no exception. As mentioned, lots of viewers of professional sports are only tuning in to check on the wagers they have in place. If a bettor has placed a futures wager on a golfer who misses the cut, the bettor may not have a reason to tune into the weekend rounds. Fortunately, live betting provides the opportunity to continue placing bets after an event has started. This has been one of the major advantages of having online sportsbooks, as these sites are able to constantly update odds, offering a bettor the opportunity to place wagers throughout the entire event.

Live betting tournament winners

The most basic but perhaps most effective style of live betting for golf is betting on the winner of the tournament. The odds of each golfer to win will constantly be changing throughout the event, depending on how well everyone has been playing. If Dustin Johnson is the favorite to win the US Open and his starting odds are +800, it may be too small of a payout to risk a bet on. But if after the first round we find Johnson three shots back of the leaders, a sportsbook may offer a live line of +2000 on him to win. Even though he is trailing by three shots, this may be a great opportunity to live bet on him to make a comeback over the weekend. 

Most sportsbooks will also offer live odds on certain golfers to finish inside the top 5, top 10, or top 20. Typically speaking, odds for a golfer to finish in the top 5 will be 1/4 the outright winning odds. For example, Jon Rahm may have outright odds that are +1500. If the bettor is uncertain of his winning ability but thinks he will finish high in the final standings, we can usually find top 5 odds of +500 for him, instead of just picking him to win. 

Live betting tournament winners strategies

As explained in the Dustin Johnson example above, a pre-tournament favorite could have their odds shift based on what is currently happening on the course. There are a few ways to capitalize on this type of line movement and use it to the advantage of the bettor. 

In 2005, Tiger Woods won his third green jacket by capturing a victory at The Masters. He was the pre-tournament favorite going into this event. After a poor opening round, he found himself seven shots off the lead. At this point, his live odds to win would have greatly shifted but, if the bettor were still able to recognize Tiger’s potential to put up low scores on the weekend and remain competitive, this would be a good opportunity to live bet Tiger to win. 

In the past five years, just once has the first round leader gone on to win one of the golf majors (The Masters, The US Open, The British Open, and the PGA Championship). Brooks Koepka was the only one to pull off the feat at the 2019 PGA Championship. This means more often than not, the winner of the tournament will not be the favorite after the first round. Just because a golfer who we have decided we like entering the tournament has a poor showing in round one, does not mean they are unable to win. This gives the bettor the opportunity to often find better golf odds at the end of round one than were available before. 

Live betting matchups

As mentioned, before any round on the PGA Tour there will either be two or three golfers teeing off together. Odds will be given in the format of head-to-head – picking which of two selected golfers will score better for that round – or in three-balls – the same format with three golfers picked instead of two. Once the round begins, golf betting sites will offer the same wagering type with the odds adjusting to whatever is currently happening on the course. 

Betting per hole

Newer sportsbooks – such as Draftkings or FanDuel – have taken this approach one step further. Live matchup odds are now offered on a per hole basis as well as for the whole round. A bettor can tune in to the event and live bet who will score better on each individual hole. Odds offered may look something like the following:

Best Score – Hole 10 (par 5)

Phil Mickelson +240      Tie -125     Gary Woodland +190

Both golfers have plus odds because the most likely outcome of each hole is that they will tie. 

Betting per three holes

Live matchup odds are also offered in three hole stretches. In this instance, the bettor is placing a wager on who will shoot the lowest score over the course of three holes. For example, Augusta National – the home of The Masters – has a three hole stretch on the back nine that consists of a par-4, par-3, and par-5. This is often referred to as Amen Corner and is made up of holes 11, 12, and 13. As golfers approach this span of holes, sportsbooks may offer the following odds:

Best Score – Holes 11-13 (par 4, par 3, par 5)

Justin Rose +140    Tie +210    Shane Lowry +240

The more holes being bet on, the less likely the outcome will end in a tie. 

Overall score results

Betting live odds on overall score results is very similar to betting matchups but, with this wagering type, the bettor can place a bet on a golfer making a specific score (birdie, par, bogey, etc) on any given hole. Depending on the difficulty of a hole, a line will be set on how well the golfers will do. Odds could look something like the following:

Brooks Koepka – Justin Thomas 

Any player to score a birdie or better – Hole 9 (round 2, par 4)

Yes -245         No +180

Not every hole on the course plays at the same difficulty level. Once again using Augusta National as the example, below are the first nine holes with the difficulty of each listed and average score relative to par.

HoleParYardsRankAvg Score
1444524.3
25575174.69
34350144.01
4324033.3
5449574.2
63180103.13
7445064.2
85570154.72
94460114.11

Being able to find the average score and difficulty of individual holes allows the bettor to make more educated decisions when live betting overall hole results. With the chart above, you can see the second hole may provide a good opportunity to bet on a golfer to make a birdie or better. The average score on that hole is almost half a stroke under par, which means the majority of golfers playing it score a birdie. 

Jul 10, 2020; Dublin, Ohio, USA; Brooks Koepka on the tenth tee during the second round of the Workday Charity Open golf tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Live betting strategies

When making decisions on pre-tournament wagers, there are a number of different details to consider. The main three elements most bettors take into account when looking at golf odds are tournament history, current form, and relevant stats. Depending on which golf course is being played that week, different stats will be taken into consideration. Using these three key pieces of information, a bettor can narrow down a field of over 150 golfers into a more reasonable group. Once the field is narrowed down, we will more clearly be able to look into the golf betting odds assigned to each one of them. This will determine which futures to place, as well as which head-to-head matchups look appealing. 

Hedging future wagers

After placing pre-tournament wagers, there are a lot of live betting strategies that can be very profitable. The first is to hedge futures bets. After the event begins, sportsbooks will constantly be updating odds on golfers to win the tournament. If you have a few golfers in contention that you made pre-tournament future bets on, this can be a great time to hedge with other golfers near the top of the leaderboard. 

For example, the last tournament of the year on the PGA Tour is known as the Tour Championship. This is the end of the golf playoffs. The top 30 golfers of the year head to East Lake to conclude the year long race for the FedEx Cup. Since there are only 30 golfers in the field, the live odds will be constantly changing and finding the right time to pull the trigger on a bet can lead to a profitable week.

In 2017, Xander Schauffele came from behind on Sunday to win the title. He edged out Justin Thomas by one stroke. The golf odds for Thomas before the event began were +1100. This would have been a popular bet and would have garnered a lot of action. As Sunday approached, any bettor holding a ticket for Thomas to win would have been able to hedge their bet by placing a live wager on Schauffele. This way, however, the final round shook out, it would be possible to make a profit. Only someone following along with the live leaderboard would have been able to execute this strategy. 

There are plenty of options when it comes to live betting. Whether your betting style is to hedge already placed bets, to wager while following along with the action, or to place some prop bets for entertainment purposes, live betting golf can offer all of the above.

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