Fancy a bet on the golf but not sure how to get involved? Here’s everything you need to get started.
How did golf betting start?
It is almost impossible to pinpoint exactly when golf was first played. There are however, records of a sport similar to our modern game being played in Scotland as early as the 15th Century. In fact, James III is thought to have banned the sport as it was distracting his soldiers from their battle with the English.
Golf continued to develop over the next three centuries, slowly evolving into the game we know today. Largely due to the need for expensive equipment, golf remained almost exclusively a practice for the super-wealthy. Societies started to appear in Scotland and London in the mid-18th Century while the first outside of the United Kingdom was formed in South Carolina in 1780.
As the formalisation of golf continued, professionals started to emerge and wagering was able to take place. Allan Roberston is widely regarded to be one of the first professional golfers. Initially he would have made his living through playing in challenge matches. These matches would see wealthy businessmen place large wagers on the result.
Private betting on golf continued throughout the 19th Century. There was much debate as to how players of differing ability could go up against each other fairly. Eventually some form of odds system was introduced. From around the mid-1900s onwards, the term handicap began to be used at clubs around the UK.
This led to more tournaments taking place and the popularity of golf exploded as a result. Towards the end of the century, gate money started to be taken at some tournaments. This helped to fund prize money for the victors. Focus consequently shifted from private betting to official golf tournaments. The first Open Championship, golf’s oldest major, was played in 1860 at Prestwick Golf Club in Scotland.
What golf can I bet on?
Played pretty much all year round at various levels or ‘tours’ the world over, golf provides punters with an almost endless stream of betting opportunities.
The PGA and European Tours are the two most important tours in men’s golf, both in terms of status and the prize money on offer. Players can be members of both tours and take part in events on either circuit.
At BetConnect we offer markets on most major tour events so it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with the golfing calendar before deciding where to focus most of your attention.
The PGA Tour
The PGA Tour is the premier golf tour in the United States, consisting of around 50 events. They are generally played from October through to August, although the tour schedule is revised season-on-season by event organisers.
Players accumulate ranking points in the regular season with the number of points awarded for winning each tournament varying depending on the quality of the field. At the end of the season, the top 125 players qualify to take part in the FedExCup Playoffs. This is a series of three events that culminates with the Tour Championship.
The European Tour
The European Tour traditionally runs from November to November. It is made up of 47 different events, played mainly on European soil. Some of the more lucrative tournaments now take place in the Middle East, South Africa and Asia.
The winner of the European Tour is determined by the Race to Dubai. Similarly to the PGA Tour, this is a season-long competition in which points are accumulated based on tournament finishes and prize money earned. The top 60 ranking players then qualify for the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.
The top players from each tour also battle it out in four Majors every year. These are the most prestigious tournaments in professional golf and are undoubtedly the most popular for punters to bet on. The four majors are listed in order of play date below.
Taking place during the first full week of April, the Masters is the first Major of the year. Unlike the following three, it is always held at the same location, Augusta National Golf Club, a private course in the US city of Augusta, Georgia.
As of 2019, the PGA Championship serves as the season’s second Major, played in May on the weekend before Memorial Day. It is an official money event on the PGA Tour, European Tour, and Japan Golf Tour.
The US open is on the official schedule of both the PGA Tour and European Tour. It takes place in mid-June with the final round played on the third Sunday if there are no weather delays. A purse of over $12m makes the US Open the most lucrative of the four Majors Championships.
The Open Championship
Founded in 1860, the Open Championship is the oldest golf tournament in the world. It was originally held annually at Prestwick Golf Club in Scotland but is now rotated between a select group of prestigious links courses around the UK. The Open traditionally takes place over four days, starting the day before the third Friday in July.
The Ryder Cup
The Ryder Cup is contested every two years by teams from the United States and Europe. The venue alternates between world class golf courses in the two locations.
It is played over a long weekend, consisting of five match-play sessions. Each of the first two days includes one four-match session of four-ball and one four-match session of foursomes. The final day is reserved for 12 singles matches.
Each match is worth one point, with matches ending in a draw worth ½ point to each side. The first team to reach 14 ½ points wins the Ryder Cup. If the matches end in a 14-14 draw, the team holding the Ryder Cup retains it.
Famous Golf Bets
Professional golfers are of course now banned from betting on themselves nor can they bet on games in general. However that didn’t stop Rory McIlroy from winning his friends and family a small fortune when he was crowned Open champion in 2014.
Gerry McIlroy staked £200 at odds of 500-1 that his son, who was only 15 at time, would win the Claret Jug within the next 10 years. The £50,000 winnings were split with a friend who stumped up half the stake. A third punter from McIlroy’s hometown of Holywood in Northern Ireland also bagged £50,000 after backing his neighbour to win the Open before he turned 50.
Angered by his exclusion from the team, American golfer John Daly controversially bet against the US at the 1995 Ryder Cup. The bet came in as Europe went on to win the competition but quite how much Daly bet and consequently won, remains a mystery.
Golf Betting Markets Explained
2 or 3 ball golf betting
We offer 2 or 3 ball betting on golf. Often referred to as 18-hole betting, 2 or 3 ball betting has become one of the most popular sub betting markets for golf punters as it lowers the variance of betting on markets like the outright winner.
Simply put, placing a 2 or 3 ball bet means pitting players head-to-head within a stroke play scenario. You are betting on which player from a 2 or 3 ball group you think will post the lowest score (from the stated players) for that round.
Overall scores and tournament standings are irrelevant. All that matters is their score over 18 holes on that particular day.
Match Play Golf Betting
We also offer markets on match play events, with the most famous obviously being the biennial Ryder Cup. The WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, hosted at the Austin Country Club in Texas since 2016, is also contested using a match play format.
Whereas stroke play counts each and every stroke in the round, match play golf involves counting each hole individually. Taking 15 shots on one hole is completely irrelevant to the next one, for example. At the end of the round, the player who wins the most holes wins the match.
You can find the rules around all of our golf betting markets here.
Golf Betting Strategy
With large fields and long odds, golf betting isn’t for the faint of heart. It is however possible to identify betting value tournament to tournament – so long as you do your research. All the information you could possibly need is widely available on official tour websites and should help you to develop a profitable betting strategy. If you’re new to the sport, here are couple of things to bare in mind before placing a bet on golf.
As always, studying form is a good place to start. Before backing any golfer, take a look at their recent tournament finishes. This will give you a good idea of how a player is performing. You are probably best to rule out players who haven’t shown at least a glimpse of competing going into an event.
Another thing to consider is course form. Many courses on the PGA and European Tours are used every year so you should be able to see whether a player favours a certain course. Some courses, for example, may require accuracy off the tee whereas others may be more suited to players with a skilled short game. The old saying ‘horses for courses’ really does apply to betting on golf.
How to bet on Golf
It couldn’t be easier to bet on golf with BetConnect. Just follow the steps below and don’t forget to check ‘My Bets’ to view your active and settled bets.
- Firstly select ‘Golf’ from the list of sports on the left hand side of the homepage
- Next select the event you wish to bet on
- Then make your selection and watch your bet slip automatically fill on the right hand side
- Now choose the best price available from the bookie odds displayed
- Finally, enter your stake, view your potential profit and simply click ‘Place Bet’ to place your bet
And that’s about it! Hopefully you found this guide useful and are now ready to bet on golf with BetConnect. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our friendly support team using the widget on our homepage.