When it comes to legal sports betting, there are plenty of opportunities. While major league teams garner the most betting attention, individual sports hosts a lot of options, too. A sport that has gained a lot of traction in recent years is golf.
Golf is popular in its own right and has scores of fans, but sports betting takes its interest to a new level. Golf tournaments happen nearly every weekend, and there are plenty of wagering opportunities to go along with them.
You could make your selection on who will win the tournament and call it a day, or consider a plethora of other bets.
For example, picking the tourney winner can be tricky, but you can bet on the golfers who you think will finish in the Top 10.
You can get out the crystal ball for the major events and pick winners well in advance, thanks to a vast futures market for signature events like the Masters.
Furthermore, live betting has taken off in recent years, and golf bettors have taken notice.
For everything you need to know to bet on golf, from where to wager to bet types and more, read on.
Top online betting sites for betting on golf
How to bet on golf in the US
In the years past, betting on golf required a visit to Las Vegas or taking your chances with an unregulated offshore sportsbook. That’s no longer the case.
In May 2018, the US Supreme Court weighed in on a case involving the legality of sports betting.
In a nutshell, the justices decided that it was a matter for the individual states to decide. Several states have picked up the ball and ran with it, and they now have a thriving sports betting industry as a result.
Bettors in legalized states will find that they have plenty of legal sportsbook options. Even better, they can wager when and where they would like via sports betting apps or legal and regulated online sportsbooks.
How to bet on golf legally
Betting on golf online in one of the legalized states is simple.
First, you choose a sportsbook and sign up for an account. Typically, the sign-up process is a breeze. It takes a couple of minutes and requires standard information such as your name, email address and date of birth. From there, you can browse to get the lay of the land.
Afterward, you can make a deposit and place some real money bets. Depositing is also a snap, as there are generally several funding options.
- New Jersey: New Jersey was one of the first states to act on legalizing sports betting. Sports betting is thriving in the Garden State, and it’s only going to get even more prominent in the coming years. For those looking to attend an event in person in 2020, one of the signature events of the year is not too far away. The US Open takes place on June 18-21 at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, NY.
- Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania entered the sports betting fray only a few months after New Jersey in 2018. There are several places for PA bettors to wager online or via a mobile device of their choice. As always, it’s a good idea to find the best deal when opening up a new account. There aren’t any PGA Tour events scheduled for PA in 2020, but the US Open is in NY, and The Greenbrier in West Virginia is a regular tour stop.
- Indiana: Indiana sports betting took some time to go live, but it was time well spent. The retail side of things opened in September 2019, and online and mobile options launched the following month. The PGA Tour isn’t touching down in Indiana in 2020, but some options aren’t too far away for live golf. The Rocket Mortgage Classic takes place in Detroit, MI, in May. The John Deere Classic will be in Silvis, IL, in July, while the BMC Championship is in Olympia Fields, Il, in August.
- West Virginia: West Virginia was one of the first states to act on legalizing sports betting in 2018. The retail side got up and running without a hitch, but there were some hiccups with online and mobile sports betting options. Thankfully, that’s all sorted out now. As mentioned, West Virginia is a regular stop on the PGA circuit. In September 2019, A military tribute at The Greenbrier was held at The Old White TPC Course in White Sulphur Springs, WV.
- Iowa: The retail side of sports betting is up and running in the Hawkeye State. Because online and mobile are being unveiled in stages, bettors will need to visit a retail sportsbook to complete their registration in person.
- New Hampshire: The Granite State legalized sports betting in NH in July 2019 and DraftKings launched in December.
While there’s only a handful of states operating with legal sports betting both online and in-person, there are more to come. Several states are close to making it a reality, while others are in the planning stages.
Here’s where things stand in the following states:
- Michigan: Sports betting got the green light in the Great Lakes State in December 2019. The timeline for the rollout is unclear, but it may be ready for events later on the 2020 PGA Tour schedule. Michigan sports betting will likely happen before the 2021 season gets underway.
- Tennessee: TN legalized sports betting in 2019. The timeline for online and mobile options is unclear, but 2020 is a distinct possibility for the Volunteer State.
- Colorado: The Centennial State legalized sports betting in 2019, and the projected timeline suggests May 2020.
How to bet on golf
As with any new endeavor, betting on golf can take some adjustment. At first glance, the different kinds of bets can seem like foreign concepts. However, the same can be said when it comes to placing wagers on anything outside of your comfort zone.
Just like when you’re jumping into any new sport, the best place to start is with the basics and work your way up. A clear understanding of the main concepts and the kinds of bets will help position you to be up and running.
Unlike the major team sports, you’ll be betting on the performance of an individual. However, you’ll still be researching before making your selections, such as past performance and current level of play.
Most popular types of golf bets
Let’s take a look at the basic types of golf bets you can place:
- To Win: For this bet, you’re merely choosing the golfer who you think will win the event. You’ll find odds for all golfers in the field, with odds ranging from favorites to longshots.
- Versus The Field: These bets can help to open up the rooting interest. Typically, these bets are offered as one of the favorites for the tournament versus the field. If that golfer doesn’t win, but someone else in the pool does, you have a winner.
- Finishing Position: These wagers revolve around which golfers will place well in the tournament. Generally, you can place bets on a golfer to finish in the top five, top 10 or 20.
- Head to Head: These types of bets are similar to what you’ll see in the major team sports. Sportsbooks will pair up two golfers entered in the tournament, and you can bet on which one you think will outperform the other.
- Group Betting: Similar to head-to-head bets, these wagers surround a group of four golfers. Your job is to determine which of the four will post the best score.
- 2/3 Balls: These are head to head bets for a single round, and bettors can also select a tie if they believe that’s the most likely outcome.
- Each Way: An each-way bet is a wager on a golfer to win or place in the event, such as in the top five.
- First Round Leader: On the PGA Tour, tournaments span four rounds. For these bets, you’re simply choosing who you think the leader will be after Round One.
- Nationality: Sportsbooks will post odds for you to choose the best performing golfer by nationality, such as the top-performing American player or top European finisher.
While there are distinct differences between betting on teams and individual sports, there is also some crossover. In fact, you’ll find that solid research skills translate well as you expand your horizons into different areas of sports betting.
If you have a knack for breaking down contests or events in another niche, there’s a chance you’ll catch on quickly as you look to branch out into new areas.
How to bet golf futures
The most significant events on the golf calendar naturally attract the most interest. The four tournaments are referred to as the majors.
These events attract the most prominent names to the field, as well as the most attention when it comes to sports betting.
Thanks to the futures market, you can weigh in on the winner of the events before they even take place. For example, let’s say that the Masters Tournament, one of the four majors, is still a few months away.
You like the way one golfer has been playing thus far, but he hasn’t captured a lot of attention from others. As a result, he might have some long odds to win the Masters. You can place a bet on him to win at these long odds and cash-in a nice payday if he wins.
It’s similar to how NFL bettors will place wagers on the winner of the Super Bowl for the coming year. That’s another very active futures market and one which provides a chance at an excellent return if your hunches prove correct.
Bet as the match unfolds with live betting
As the sports betting world continues to grow, several enhancements have come about in recent years. Some have become a fixture on the menu, while others haven’t moved the needle much.
In the former category, one of the most significant developments has been live betting. Also known as in-play betting, these are wagers you can place as the action unfolds in real-time.
As a golf tournament plays out, you can react to what’s going on by placing some live bets. This market moves fast, so odds and opportunities will vary. Among the options include a head-to-head matchup of two golfers, or how many strokes it may take a golfer to complete an upcoming hole.
You can enjoy live betting online or via the mobile app of your choice.
Since golf tournaments typically begin on a Thursday and go through Sunday, there could be a lot of unforeseen developments along the way.
In-play betting via a mobile app allows you to bet as the event happens, no matter where you are in one of the legalized states.
Golf prop betting
Prop betting is another way to get some skin in the game. It is different from worrying about which golfer is going to win or place. In short, prop bets are side wagers on events that may or may not happen during a tournament.
Offerings will vary by sportsbook and event, but you’ll find many similarities with the more experience you get.
For example, you may see prop bets on the following:
- Will there be a playoff round?
- Top-performing American golfer
- Will combined birdies on hole four be over or under nine?
Prop bets can open up a new world of possibilities outside of your standard win and place bets. Be sure to check out the menu of offerings for upcoming tournaments at your sportsbook of choice.
Betting on golf majors in 2020
As mentioned, golf’s four major events attract the most betting and viewing interest.
For a quick summary, these events will see the top golfers in the world competing. These events are rich in history, and often on the most breathtaking courses on the planet.
So, what are the significant four events, and when do they take place? Let’s take a look.
Betting on the Masters Tournament
Perhaps the most popular of all of golf’s significant events, the Masters is a massive highlight for sports bettors.
- April 9-12, 2020
- Augusta National Golf Course in Augusta, GA
- Purse Size: $11,500,000
- Defending Champion: Tiger Woods
Last year, Woods completed a comeback for the ages in winning the Masters, the fifth time he has won this prestigious event in his legendary career. He’s second on the all-time list for Masters’ wins, behind only Jack Nicklaus and his six victories.
Betting on the PGA Championship
As the calendar advances through the spring, the action on the links heats up, including at the annual PGA Championship.
- May 14-17, 2020
- TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, CA
- Purse size: $11,000,000
- Defending Champion: Brooks Koepka
Koepka played brilliant golf over the first three days of last year’s tournament, and he would go on to win by two strokes. This was the second year in a row that he took down this signature event. Nicklaus and Walter Hagen are tied for the most PGA Championship wins with five.
Betting on the US Open
While the Masters is held in high esteem, the US Open can also stake its claim as the biggest event of the year for golfers.
- June 18-21, 2020
- Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, NY
- Purse size: $12,500,000
- Defending Champion: Gary Woodland
The US Open is one of the toughest events to win. Woodland put it all together last year to get the victory, the first time he has done so at a major. Four golfers have won the US Open four times, including Nicklaus.
Betting on the Open Championship
Held across the pond in the UK, the Open Championship has a history that can match up with any of the other majors.
- July 16-19, 2020
- Royal St. George’s Golf Club in Sandwich, Kent, ENG
- Purse size: $10,750,000
- Defending Champion: Shane Lowry
If the US Open is the toughest to win, then the event that’s also known as the British Open isn’t far behind.
Ireland native Lowry celebrated the biggest win of his career in his home country, as last year’s edition in Portrush, Northern Ireland. Harry Vardon holds the record with six victories at this event, the last of which came in 1914.
How to bet on other PGA events and tours
While the majors get the most attention, that’s not all there is to see when it comes to betting on golf. The tour calendar is full of events that run from September through August.
The action heats up in the spring and summer months with numerous events that are smaller than the Majors but attract plenty of interest.
Here’s a look at some of the best events of the upcoming tour season:
- The Players Championship: March 12-15, 2020, TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL
- Wells Fargo Championship: April 30-May 3, 2020, Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, NC
- AT&T Byron Nelson: May 7-10, 2020, Trinity Forest Golf Club in Dallas, TX
- The Memorial Tournament: June 4-7, 2020, Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, OH
- RBC Canadian Open: June 11-14, 2020, St. George’s Golf and Country Club in Toronto, Ontario, Canada
- Travelers Championship: June 25-28, 2020, TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, CT
- The Northern Trust: Aug. 13-16, 2020, TPC Boston in Norton, MA
- Tour Championship: Aug. 27-30, 2020, East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, GA
For each of these events — and all of the others on the 2019-20 PGA Tour — you’ll find a full range of wagering opportunities. You should note that most golf betting action will come on PGA Tour events. You may find action on lower-level tours such as the Senior and European circuits as well.
Betting on the Ladies PGA
The Ladies PGA runs a full calendar of events as well. While prize pools are smaller than on the men’s side of the equation, the competition is just as fierce.
Here’s a look at some of the most significant events on the LPGA schedule for the coming year:
- HSBC Women’s World Championship: Feb. 27-March 1, 2020, in Singapore
- ShopRite LPGA Classic: May 21-24, 2020, in Galloway, NJ
- US Women’s Open: June 4-7, 2020, in Houston, TX
- KPMG Women’s PGA Championship: June 25-28, 2020 in Newtown Square, PA
- The Evian Championship: July 23-26, 2020, in France
- AIG Women’s British Open: Aug. 20-23, 2020, in Scotland
- CP Women’s Open: Sept. 3-6, 2020 in Canada
- CME Group Tour Championship: Nov. 19-22, 2020, in Naples, FL
You should note that LPGA events don’t attract as much betting interest as the PGA Tour does.
As such, you may have limited options. However, you can find some good value opportunities in a sport that doesn’t receive as much attention from oddsmakers.
Betting on match play/Ryder Cup
For another wrinkle in golf betting, select match-play events occur throughout the year. In these events, you’ll find head-to-head opportunities, so a change-up in your approach is necessary.
In stroke-play events, the general goal is to find the winners and those who will pace well. For match play, it’s all about the matchups. Which golfer in a pair will outperform the other?
Quite simply, it’s like picking the winner of an NBA or NHL game. You’ll have a favorite and underdog for each matchup, and moneyline odds to go along with that.
The Ryder Cup is perhaps the most popular match-play event in the world. Teams from Europe and the US go head to head every two years, with the venue changing each time.
The 2020 edition takes place Sept. 25-27 in Haven, WI.
Daily fantasy golf betting sites
The daily fantasy sports (DFS) industry has come a long way since the early days. The various innovations contribute to its explosive growth.
Included on that list is DFS golf, a game that continues to grow in popularity.
The two largest operators, DraftKings and FanDuel, offer games for the weekly PGA tournaments.
As with sports betting, the major events attract the most interest; however, there’s a loyal and devoted player base anytime there’s an event.
The goal is to build the highest-scoring lineup from a pool of golfers scheduled to compete, all while staying under the salary cap.
Traditionally, the games will span the entire four days, but you can also find DFS for single rounds and weekends.
You can find various game types, such as tournaments and 50/50s, at different price points with the chance to win real money prizes.
For the biggest events, such as the Masters and US Open, prize pools for the major tournaments can be massive.
Those looking for a different spin on traditional DFS can check out Monkey Knife Fight and PrizePicks. These sites offer a hybrid approach that resembles prop betting.
Understanding golf betting odds
As with all other kinds of sports betting, the odds are a significant factor when it comes to golf. There are favorites and longshots to win each tournament. Your job is to find the winners and potential value plays that may win or place.
For the upcoming Sentry Championship, here are the odds for the five favorites:
- Jon Rahm: +470
- Justin Thomas: +500
- Dustin Johnson: +800
- Xander Schauffele: +800
- Patrick Cantlay: +1100
Oddsmakers have deemed Rahm and Thomas as the most likely to take down the Sentry. They have shorter odds than the field as a result. You’ll find odds listed for all of the players in the field each week, ranging from low to high.
For example, odds for golfers at the Sentry start at a low +470 to an eye-popping +50,000.
You’ll find a similar listing of odds when you dig into a future event.
For this year’s Players Championship, books have dropped odds, which look like this:
- Rory McIlroy: +1000
- Jon Rahm: +1300
- Justin Thomas: +1400
- Tiger Woods: +1400
- Brooks Koepka: +1600
And so on down the list, all the way down to the bottom where you’ll find odds of +50,000. It’s a similar story when you’re looking at other kinds of golf bets, such as top 10 or top 20 finishers in a tournament.
For head to heads, groups and various prop bets, it’s a little different. Let’s take a look at the odds for a head-to-head matchup at the Sentry using a ⅔ balls format as an example:
- Dustin Johnson: -185
- J.T. Poston: +230
- Tie: +750
As you can see, Johnson is a pretty big favorite here. To break down this head-to-head matchup, you’d want to approach it like how you would bet on a game:
- Which golfer is better overall?
- Who has played the best at recent events?
- Has either of them had success at the Sentry in the past?
As you gain experience with golf betting, you’ll come to find that the odds aren’t that hard to understand. Also, you’ll get to the point in which you’ll see those potential value opportunities, for example, such as a point spread that seems off in an NFL or NBA game.
How to live stream major events online
The traditional PGA Tour event stretches over four days, from Thursday to Sunday. It can be challenging to be in front of the TV for that long; however, you have options if you are on the go.
You can find live streams of PGA events online and via mobile. Some of them will come right from sportsbooks themselves. The advent of live betting and sports wagering, in general, has been a catalyst on this front. We can assume that there will be a lot more to come here.
For your safety, stick to the legal and regulated US sites we recommend.
If they offer a stream for an event you’re interested in, you’re good to go. If not, check out PGA.com for information on how and where you can legally and safely stream tour events.
Who is the highest paid golfer of all time?
It’s no surprise to see the man largely responsible for promoting the sport of golf to the American masses is Tiger Woods. He’s also our highest all-time earner, bringing in a cool $122.5 million. Woods has an incredible 120 wins to his name.
What is an each-way bet?
When you wager each way on a player, you are actually placing two separate bets.
The first bet is on the player to win, with the second for your chosen golfer to complete the tournament in one of the leading places offered. A top five or top 10 finish is generally the norm.
The second bet is usually placed at a quarter the odds given. So, in effect, your stake is being doubled; even if the player doesn’t win but still finishes in the top places, you’ll get money back. Hence, the each-way title.
When should you hedge a bet?
The beauty of golf is that some odds on players in tournaments are actually far too long in truth, making this sport perfect for hedging a bet later on in an event.
Explained simply, this could work well if you are placing a stake on a player to win before the tournament begins.
It’s possible that your selection’s odds could have lengthened considerably by the end of the second day, even if he or she makes any cut.
The golfer could still win, of course, and you could leave things to fate. But should the player be one or two shots in front of the field at the halfway point, in order to make sure you get money back at the end of the event, this is when you should consider hedging your bet.
You’d do this by placing money on a player or players very close behind. It’s important to work out how much you could win by doing this and balance any wager against the odds of it all falling into place.
Are there any golf betting systems that work?
The simple truth is while there are many golf tipsters out there, unlike, e.g., horse racing, it’s much more of a challenge to wager with a system in golf for many reasons.
The field is always large in golf, of course, and the weather and conditions can play a part alongside a player’s form. And, it’s a fact, things can go wrong on the course itself.
OK, so some players play better at specific courses, but, in many events, the favorites rarely win.
You could, in theory, follow the highest earners who do well in the majors, but the best way to approach golf betting is to study as much form as possible and follow the game for trending clues, like strokes gained and strong iron and driving performances.
What's the difference between match bets and rounds?
Explained simply, match bets will involve, e.g., wagers positioned on who might shoot the highest score in a three-ball grouping, or the lowest score in a two-ball grouping.
A matched bet might also involve a virtual head to head of two golfers playing the same tournament but in different groupings.
In other words, forget about winning the championship. It’s a case of one golfer having a better card than the other. If the player you choose finishes better than the other, you’ll win your bet.
When it comes to betting on rounds, individuals will bet on which player they think will perform best in that particular round. It could be the first right through to the fourth in a 72-par event, of course. This can be a great way of making a profit without necessarily getting the winner of the championship.
First-round betting is becoming very popular and ideal in following players who can start well in tournaments, but might find the pressure on final round day too much when in a good position.
What does handicapping mean in golf?
You’ll hear the term frequently; you may even know friends who play the game often boasting about their handicap.
It’s a numerical gauge of just how good a player is over a single round of golf. This is all done across recent play and demonstrates the number of strokes a player should be able to take either below or above par.
When we talk about stroke play, a golfer’s handicap is utilized to provide a net score from the total of strokes played across a tournament or competition. This means golfers of differing skill levels can perform against one another on a level playing field.
A male golfer’s handicap will go up to a maximum of 36. Female players have a maximum handicap of 40.
There are hundreds of golf terms, some even the professional sometimes forget. Here are just a few of the basic terms you might hear. There are many sites online offering the full index.
- Birdie: When golfers achieve one stroke under par on a particular hole, for example, making a two on a par three hole is a birdie.
- Par: Players who meet the listed number of strokes for a hole make par.
- Bogey: If par for a hole is four and the player takes five strokes, this would be a bogey.
- Double bogey: Making two extra strokes above the listed par is a double bogey, something that can be fatal to a golfer’s card.
- Ace: Hitting a hole in one is known as an ace.
- Dogleg: A dogleg is a hole with a direct fairway, but then veering to the right or left.
- Sand trap: This is a green-side bunker or a fairway full of sand instead of grass.
- Approach shot: This is the term for a golfer aiming to land the ball on the green. The average measure is between 150 to 180 yards to the target.
- Follow through: Describes that part of the golfer’s swing that occurs after the club has connected with the ball.
- Flagstick: The flagstick is the tall pole indicating where the hole is on the green.
- Heading in: A term used when a player is heading toward the back nine and the clubhouse.
- Line: This is the line a golfer expects the ball to take as heads toward the hole.