Most casual golf bettors only bet four or five times a year – the four majors, the Ryder Cup if it is on, and maybe the match play. That’s obviously when the sport is in the spotlight, and when the most betting options are available. I’m not a huge golf bettor myself, but I do bet the majors. Those aren’t my favorite tournaments to bet, though. Where I really like to shop for value is in the tournaments played the week following the majors. They aren’t the tournaments with the glamor, and they aren’t particularly interesting a lot of times, but from a betting perspective they are tough to beat. Here are five good reasons why I like betting these tournaments so much.
No one cares – When the majors are on media attention is as intense as it can be unless one of the players is having an affair. That means that every move is scrutinized, and every analyst who has ever touched a golf club is offering his opinion. It is reasonably easy for casual bettors to gain a passing amount of knowledge about what is going on in those tournaments. The media attention and hype also acts like a magnet to draw betting action towards the tournament, and that means that the oddsmakers have to be sure that they are working hard to set reasonably tight lines. The week after the majors, though, all but the most committed golf fans need a break from golf. Media attention falls off a cliff, betting action dries up, and the oddsmakers have much more important things to focus on. When no one cares about an event there is a better chance that there are lines that can be exploited. Any mistakes that are made aren’t going to be corrected nearly as quickly by the market, either. In short, there is just a whole lot more potential for good opportunities in the quieter spots. To draw a college basketball comparison, the majors are like a Duke – North Carolina game at the end of the regular season with the ACC title on the line, while the tournaments the week after are like a Drexel – Louisiana Tech game on a Tuesday in November. I’d much rather watch Duke, but I’m likely going to be much happier betting the Drexel game if I do my homework.
The best players stay at home – Tiger, Phil, Rory and the other big names will rarely play the week after a major. There is no incentive for them to do so and they value the rest more than a chance to win a meaningless tournament. A few top level guys may show up, but there will be far fewer than normal. That is a great thing for bettors. When there are elite golfers in a field their odds are generally pretty low. You can’t totally discount them because they are good enough to win any time, so you are forced to bet on those lower odds often times. When they aren’t in the field, though, then you don’t have to be concerned about them and players at higher odds have a better chance at coming out on top because they don’t have to overcome those elite stars. That means that you can afford to bet on more players in these events – often several more. If done properly that significantly increases your chances at a nice payday.
You get a look at full-effort form – It can be hard to get a sense of how well a player is really playing because you can’t always be sure how much they are personally invested in a particular tournament. You can be sure, though, that any player that makes the field at a major is going to be playing the best he can at that moment. As a result, you are able to handicap the tournaments after a major with a very good sense of what a golfer is capable of right now. That’s a rare and valuable situation.
Journeymen are rested – For the golfers who are on the margins of the PGA it can be extremely grueling. They have to play every week, and it can wear on them mentally. For all but the British Open, though, there is not another PGA event scheduled while the major is being played. That means that players who don’t qualify for the majors get a chance to rest and relax for a week without the guilt of missing a tournament and a chance to earn the money they need. That can have a huge impact on players, and can help a guy who has shown some real potential get over the top.
Nerves and environment aren’t a major factor – At big tournaments with big fields bettors have to be concerned about whether players are going to be nervous or intimidated and what effect that is going to have on their game. It can be hard to take a risk betting on a marginal guy if you have to be concerned that he won’t put his best game forward. There is no less intimidating, lower risk tournament than these ones, though. Media attention is low, the field is soft, there is still enough time left in the season that guys aren’t panicking, the crowds aren’t going to be too unruly, and so on. If a guy can’t handle these conditions then he just isn’t meant to be on the PGA Tour because it is never going to get better than this.