The Masters is the most prestigious golf tournament in the world, and Augusta National is the most revered golf course in the world. It’s the only course that hosts a Major every year, and it’s a course that has a mythology of its own. Handicappers who want to succeed betting on the Masters need to pay close attention to Augusta National and the impact it will have on the outcome of the tournament. Here are six factors for PGA handicappers to consider:
What changes have been made? – The members at Augusta National have more money than they could ever spend, and they love spending some of it on course modifications. They are endlessly making changes to the course. They add length. They reshape greens. They modify hazards. They are constantly tweaking and adjusting and improving. Most of the changes really don’t matter that much – they are for cosmetic or crowd purposes. Sometimes, though, they make changes that have a big impact on the outcome of the tournament and which players are going to have an advantage in the tournament. Before you do any other handicapping, then, you need to look at what has been done, and what it means.
What will the fans fixate on? – It’s important to understand what aspects of the course the public are going to fixate on – and be distracted by. there are some things that the public will really like and really pay attention to, and that will impact the way that they view the whole tournament. The most obvious example of that is Amen Corner – the most revered and mythologized part of the Augusta National course. Beyond that it is worth taking a look at what is in the media – what aspects of the course are getting more attention than most, and what impact that could have on the perception of bettors.
How fast are the greens? – Augusta does not have the toughest greens in the world, but they aren’t exactly easy. They can also vary widely from year to year depending upon how much moisture there has been. It’s important for bettors to get a sense of how the greens are playing before you make your final selections. Thankfully, there are a few good ways to do this. The first is to look at what players are saying about them in interviews after practice rounds during the week. A lot of players won’t say much of interest, but some will be surprisingly honest and useful. The second way is to look at how the greens play during the par 3 event. That event is played on a different course than the main event, but it is on the Augusta National grounds, so it is maintained by the same people and faces the same conditions. That means it can give us a good hint of what to expect. Once bettors understand what the greens are likely to be like they can look at which golfers are helped by that and which ones aren’t.
Will the conditions change? – Golf handicappers need to understand if the conditions are likely to be stable throughout the tournament, or if they are going to change and adjust over time. The more they are likely to change the more careful you need to be in your handicapping. There are a couple of big factors to consider here. First, the amount of moisture the course has had in the days leading up to the event. If there has been a lot of rain before the event and it stops during the event then the course will dry up, and the greens and fairways will get faster as the tournament goes along. Second, you need to look at the forecast during the event. If rain is possible later in the week then the course could soften and change dramatically.
What have the conditions been like leading up to the event? – You will be well served by paying attention to the weather in Augusta for the month or two before the tournament if you are serious about handicapping it effectively. The amount of moisture and the temperatures will have a big impact of the condition of the fairways, the thickness of rough, and the ability of players to practice in similar conditions to what they will play in in the tournament.
What players best suit the course? – Once bettors have a sense of what the conditions of the course are likely to be like they can look at how those help or hurt different styles of players. For example, wet fairways hurt the big hitters because they won’t get as much roll so their length advantage will be minimized. Wet weather can lead to thick rough, and that can be a real problem for guys who aren’t accurate. Fast, hard greens really help players with strong short games and strong putting games.