Outside of the majors the match play format is the best there is in professional golf. There are a few reasons for that – the head-to-head competition is rare and always intriguing, the format is perfect for TV and fun to follow, and it is fun and profitable to handicap. If people aren’t careful when they are betting on the few opportunities to handicap match play each year, though, there are mistakes that they can make that can prove to be costly. Here are five of the biggest mistakes bettors make when betting on match play golf:
Relying on reputation – In any golf handicapping overvaluing reputation can be costly. In match play, though, it can be deadly. When two golfers are paired up there will very frequently be one who has done more, had more success, and has a higher profile than his opponent. That can be seductive, but it is meaningless. What really matters is who is in better form now, and who is in better position to come out on top in the particular situation that they find themselves in. Relying on reputation to guide your decisions is just lazy, and it will lead you to making betting decisions that aren’t justified by facts. Those decisions will also often find you paying too much for your bet and making bets with absolutely no value associated with them. You absolutely must evaluate the two golfers as if they are anonymous players with their traits and recent performance so that the reputation doesn’t color your preferences.
Flocking to the favorite – Match play is moneyline betting. In moneyline betting the favorites can be expensive, and when they are popular favorites they can be really expensive. It is very important for bettors to remember that the point of moneyline betting isn’t to pick the side that is more likely to win. It is to pick the side for which the price you pay most adequately reflects the chances of that side winning. If a golfer was only going to win a match one time in five, but his odds were at +600 then you would make that bet every day – or at least you should want to make that bet if you are interested in being a long term profitable bettor. The favorites are where the betting public tend to be drawn, so quite often their prices are inflated as a result. That doesn’t mean you can’t bet on them if it makes sense to do so. It just means you need to be open to betting on the best value in every matchup you bet.
Ignoring course factors – It doesn’t matter if one golfer is clearly superior to his opponent if the opponent is perfectly suited to playing the course. If the course requires target golf then the more accurate golfer will have the advantage over the power golfer. Tight fairways and small greens will reward the better short game. Long fairways will make it hard for short hitters to compete with bombers. Course factors can have a huge impact on a match play outcome – especially because each hole can have such importance to the result.
Ignoring recent form – When playing match play you don’t have to to warmup and ease into competition, and a single mistake can prove costly. You need to be ready to play, and to play at a high level, right from the start. You also need to be able to replicate that high level of play for several rounds in a row or you won’t wind up going deep in a match play tournament. That means that recent form is a huge determinant in the outcome of match play golf. If a guy has been struggling recently then it is going to be very hard for him to rediscover his form and get back on track in this format – except perhaps unless it is a format hat has been particularly kind to him in the past.
Trying to play every pairing – You would likely never sit down at the beginning of an NFL weekend and try to make a bet on every single game that is being played. You’d never try to bet on every NBA game played during a week. It only makes sense, then, that you wouldn’t try to bet on every single pairing in a match play tournament – especially early on when there are so many to choose form. There are several reasons for this. You can’t accurately handicap so many pairings. Some of the players will be evenly matched, or it is very hard to assess what edge each one has. The odds for some will be fair, so value is hard to find. You may not be inspired or interested by some pairings, so you aren’t committed to handicapping it effectively. Whatever the reasons, smart bettors will find ways to quickly evaluate the pairings to isolate the ones that offer the best chance for success, and then will look more closely at those to pick the ones worthy of investment.