Betting on golf is hard for casual bettors. They likely only bet on the sports four or five times a year – the majors and the Ryder Cup – so they are certain not to have a deep knowledge of what’s going on in the sport. That can make picking one winner from among the dozens of golfers in a tournament even more difficult than it normally is. One way to get around the challenge of picking a single winner is by betting head-to-head matchups. The concept is simple – two golfers are listed and you decide which one is going to do better in the tournament or the round depending on the time frame you are betting. It’s a way of taking a type of betting that is unfamiliar for people who bet team sports and turn it into a much more familiar format. Here’s a look at four things for bettors to keep in mind when betting head-to-head matchups in golf:
Look at recent performance, not names – Oddsmakers are not dumb – a long way from it. They have a strong sense of how the public is likely to view pairings, and so they set those pairings to be as advantageous as possible for them. Quite often you will see a pairing in which one golfer is clearly the better known, and they will be favored as a result. Sometimes, though, the golfer that is better known hasn’t been playing nearly as well recently as the lesser known guy. Books know that reputation matters more to casual bettors than recent performance and the will exploit that. It’s important that you don’t fall into this trap. If a pairing seems too easy or too good to be true then it probably is. Spending the time to look beyond the surface into what is actually being offered is the single most important element if you wish to succeed with these bets.
Consider the Tiger factor – Tiger Woods is the most popular player on the planet. He’s been the favorite in virtually every tournament he has played for more than a decade, and likely will be for several more years. He draws far more betting attention than anyone else – regardless of how he is playing at a particular time. The blind loyalty the betting public has to Woods means that oddsmakers are able to set the odds without a whole lot of value and still draw a lot of betting attention. Because he is so popular Woods will also show up in more than his share of head-to-head matchups. I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t bet on Tiger – he’s always capable of winning no matter how poorly he is playing overall. You just need to be particularly sure that Woods is well positioned to perform well in this particular pairing because the odds aren’t going to give you a lot of room for error.
Be hyper-focused on value – Casual bettors focus exclusively on who they think is going to win – whether it’s a pairing like this or a game. Successful bettors know, though, that the point isn’t necessarily to pick who is going to win – it’s to pick the side for which the price best represents the risk involved in making the bet. That’s the definition of value, and it is crucial for moneyline betting. If you make head-to-head bets when you aren’t very certain that you have an edge – a clear edge – then you are not putting yourself in a good position to succeed over the long term.
Be choosy – During a major there will be dozens of different pairings to choose from, and new pairings will be offered for each round. It can be very tempting to play as many different pairings as you can in order to get the most action as you can – it makes the tournament more interesting to watch. With so many choices, though, there is no reason at all to make any bet unless it represents a clear edge for you. If a pairing seems like a toss up, or if it offers little value, then by betting on it all you are doing is gambling – not handicapping. Handicapping can be profitable, but over the long term gambling isn’t. Instead of making as many bets as you can be very choosy and hold out for the best situations.