For a lot of casual golf bettors, there are only four or five events each year that they care about – the majors and the Ryder Cup every other year. They may pay attention to a couple of the WGC events as well – like the Match Play. That still leaves dozens of regular events each year – the weekly events that only sometimes get attention nationally. Those events should be of more interest to serious sports bettors looking to make a long term profit than they are. The betting volume in these events is lower than in the majors – sometimes dramatically lower – so there is a much better chance of finding soft lines that can be exploited.
If you don’t spend a lot of time handicapping golf events right now but are interested in doing more then here are six questions you can ask to start a winning handicapping process:
Who is in the field? – This is the most important starting point for bettors. Some PGA events – like those in the week or two before majors – will be stacked with high profile pros looking to get their game in shape. Other events – like the ones at the very end of the season – are only going to draw lower level pros looking to pad their earnings and secure an exemption. The makeup of the field is obviously crucially important to handicappers. The more strong golfers there are in the field the more likely it is that there will be one of them hoisting the trophy at the end. The stronger field could also have an impact on the nerves of the lesser players and their ability to perform down the stretch. Any golfer can win any given week, but field strength is still crucial to understand.
What type of course is it? – Is the course really long and wide open? The long hitters are likely going to have a big week if that’s the case. Are the greens small and hard to hit, or huge and wide open? Is it links style or heavily treed? How badly will inaccurate shots be punished by the rough? There are some courses that are set up for some styles of players, and some that really aren’t, and a guy who isn’t suited to a particular course is going to be at a big disadvantage on this week. Big name golfers can be available at odds that might initially seem attractive but actually aren’t when you consider what they have to play on.
Has a player or type of player dominated the course? – This is clearly an extension of the last point. If a particular type of player tends to win the tournament year after year then it only makes sense to limit your selections to a similar type of player. If only big hitters have won in recent years then finesse hitters likely aren’t the right pick.
What’s the timing of the tournament? – Bettors need to ask some questions. Is it early in the season or late? Will golfers be using it as a tune-up for a major event, or scrambling for any final dollars they can get? Will golfers be in top level form, or are they likely to be rusty and out of practice? The timing of an event has a big impact on the type of players that will be at their best and have the best chance of winning.
What’s the weather likely to be like? – The weather can have a big impact on the outcome of a tournament. If it’s clear and warm then the conditions will be ideal and no one should be adversely affected. There are lots of weather situations that could have an effect on some golfers, though. Cold can make it harder for the ball to fly long distances. Strong wind can reward players who can hit it low and shape their shots. Rain softens the greens and makes accuracy more important. The weather forecast can make it possible to rule out players not suited to the challenge they will have to face.
Who’s hot? – It often seems like the winner of a given tournament will come pretty much from nowhere to get the win. More often, though, a golfer who wins a tournament has shown signs over the previous few weeks that he is feeling good and his game is in good shape. It pays to look back at the events that have happened over the last several weeks. Is there a guy who has been in the top ten each week? Is a guy performing well above expectations statistically? Is a guy who has been struggling suddenly playing like we know he is capable of?