A few times each year the PGA schedules an alternate event that can offer betting possibilities. Those are the events that are played at the same time as other events with limited fields – like the British Open or WGC events. The events obviously don’t feature the most elite fields or the highest profile, and betting attention is diverted to the bigger event, but for bettors who put the effort into properly handicapping these alternate events they can provide serious opportunities for betting success – often much better than what is offered by the higher profile event taking place at the same time. When you are looking to handicap these alternate events here are five questions that are important to ask:
What solid players are in the field? – When there is a major event happening it will obviously draw the biggest names in the sport. The betting public is therefore likely to assume that all the good players are in the bigger event, and that the field in the alternate event will be weak – or at least undistinguished. That’s not always the case, though. Sometimes there are some surprisingly strong players playing in the alternate event. Perhaps they couldn’t qualify for the bigger event because they were injured, they struggled at times, or they had taken time off. Perhaps they have been playing well, but just not quite good enough to make the smaller field. Whatever the reason, it’s possible – and even common – that the field is stronger in these alternate events than people think, and that there can be some golfers in the field who are actually really good. Good handicappers will be on the lookout for those players – especially the ones who are better than the public perceives them to be. If the public already doesn’t give them enough respect in a normal tournament then they could really overlook them in these cases.
When in the season is it? – This is always a consideration in any tournament, but it is especially significant here. The deeper you get into the season the more desperate marginal golfers are going to be to maintain their playing status. That will motivate some players, and crush others. In the alternate events the field is more wide open, so more of these marginal players are going to be able to play, and they don’t have to beat as many very strong players in their pursuit of a win or a high placing. When the fields are completely wide open – as they are in alternate events – then that can have a significant impact on the pressure these players face, and how they are able to respond to that pressure.
What’s the course like? – The style of course is always important in the PGA. Does it favor big hitters, or more precise players? How tough are the greens? Is the rough forgiving or punishing? In these alternate events, though, the impact of the course and how well it suits the different players is even more important than normal. The reason is simple – the best players in the world are best able to adapt their games to suit several different types of courses, while lesser players are more dependent on their particular preferred style of course in order to shine. When the field is generally weaker then the golfers who are best suited to the course can have more of an advantage than they would in a full field event.
Will the public care at all? – The public is obviously going to be more interested in the high profile event than in the alternate event. The question bettors need to consider, then, is if there is any reason for the public to care about the alternate event at all. If they are still going to be interested in the alternate event then you need to be concerned about their biases and the impact that has on the odds. If the public won’t be interested, though, then the only money that will be in play will be smart money. That will have a different but equally significant impact on the lines. One factor that can have a big impact on the popularity of the alternate event is where the main event is being played. If it is an international event then the time zone differences might make the tournament awkward to watch and less attractive to casual bettors than it otherwise would be.
Is it worth betting? – Ultimately this is the big question for PGA handicappers. It will be easier to get more analysis and insight into the higher profile event. The public will be more involved in the bigger event, so there is a better chance to find significant value in a player that has been overlooked. It will be much easier to watch the higher profile event on TV. It will also be much easier to shop around for the best odds because more books will offer odds and props on the big event than on the alternate event. Those all may be reasons to stick to betting on the high profile event. I certainly am not suggesting that you shouldn’t bet on the alternate events – I love doing it. I’m just saying that you want to be sure you have a good reason for doing so, and that you have an edge that is worth pursuing.