Betting on Golf

Betting on golf is unique in many ways, with the biggest difference from most other sports being that golf is an individual game. Apart from the Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup, which take place every two years, punters are consistently backing one player to deliver for them. Betting on an individual instead of a team should remove the uncontrollable variables that come with betting on team sports.

In theory, less should go wrong when you are just backing Rory McIlroy to beat Dustin Johnson instead of, for instance, backing Man United to beat Liverpool. It’s not guaranteed that all 11 players will play competently and one goalkeeping error could decide the contest even if the other ten outfield players have played well. Alternatively, it could be argued that a punter is throwing his eggs into one basket even by betting on golf but the fact of the matter is that there’s no better basket to lump your predictions into than a golf betting one. Both Betfair and Paddy Power have a host of markets on all the big golf tournaments on a weekly basis.


What, then, should a punter look out for in golf betting and what are the potential risks that should be avoided? 

The pitfalls of picking an outright winner 

The first market you will see on any golf betting page at Betfair or Paddy Power is the ‘outright winner’ of a particular tournament. Betting on an outright winner means you are selecting who you think will be the overall winner at the end of the four days of the event.

Selecting an outright winner isn’t limited to just events happening at the time of your bet; you can bet a year in advance and if you wanted to, you could place a bet on the Masters 2019 winner a day after the 2018 edition ended.

Betting on an outright winner can be fraught with danger despite it being one of the most popular options of golf betting. Most golf tournaments start with more than 120 players in the field which is halved after the first two days, as those who don’t make the cut are eliminated from the event. 

Choosing an outright winner means that you have to navigate the perils of your particular player avoiding the cut and if they don't your bet could be over before it began. It’s not just the amount of players starting a tournament that puts an outright bet at risk, but also all the variables that comprise the game of golf.

Placing a bet in-play with Betfair or Paddy Power, and picking an outright winner on the last day of the tournament makes plenty of sense. By doing this you can use the last three days of golf to your advantage and make an informed decision on a winner based on what has transpired so far. Any player who is near the top of the leaderboard before tee off on Sunday is in form and playing well. If a player is within four shots of the lead going into the final round they have a very good chance of winning, and you will find far greater value by picking an outright winner then.

Mythical 2 balls DNB

If picking an outright winner from the start is a market that you choose to give a wide berth, then Mythical 2 Balls DNB is one you should cosy on up to. In the Mythical 2 Balls DNB market, you will find players that have been paired up together that aren’t playing in the same group. All you need to do is pick a winner out of the two players paired up and it is essentially a shoot-out over 18 holes to see who can card the lowest score. 

What makes this a very attractive market to punt on is the DNB - which means draw no bet. If both players come in with the same score and it is a draw then you will get your money back. The only way you can lose is if the player you backed shoots a worse score than his mythical opponent.

This market takes out any long-term bets and nullifies the threat of a 120-man field as you are just focusing on two players that will go head to head over four hours. The betting companies don't make the matches easy to call, as they pit players of an equal strength together, so you will need to know who’s in form and who has a good record on the course in question before they tee it up.

3 Balls

The 3 Balls market is very similar to the Mythical 2 Balls, only a punter has to choose a winner out of the three players that are playing in the same group. If Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson, and Tiger Woods are playing together, a punter will have to pick the player they think will shoot the lowest score out of the three during their round.

Once again, this scales it down to 18 holes instead of 72, and can provide thrilling entertainment especially if one of your picks is part of the televised featured coverage being shown. You’ll find yourself shouting for your opponent's ball to get in the water just as much as your pick's to get in the hole.

Staying clear of the hazards 

The long and short of it is that when you bet on the certain outcome on one round of golf instead of four, you begin to increase your odds of a return. There are times where you can justify a long-term pick like picking a winner of one of golf’s four majors during a certain season. Backing a very top player to do so is a solid bet as their class should come through at least once during the four majors played and by doing so you don’t have to predict in which tournament the player will do it.

There is a saying in golf that you ‘drive for show but putt for dough’ which basically means that a player's long game off the tee doesn’t make them money but rather their short game on the green. Betting on golf is very similar, where short game picks – including bets such as First Round Leader - can provide a return instead of trying to win in the long run. Punting on golf should be looked upon as a sprint and not a marathon.