For casual golf bettors there are probably just four tournaments a year that they bet on – five if it is a Ryder Cup year. The majors get the large majority of attention in the golf world, and betting action is dramatically higher than in other weeks as a result. If you only bet on a sport four or five times a year, though, then you probably don’t follow it as closely as you would if long term profits week after week were your goal. That means that you are going to unfortunately be well positioned to make some big mistakes that can make it very hard to make lasting profits betting on golf. To avoid those mistakes you can either devote significant amounts of time to improving your handicapping and your preparation by focusing on the port year round, or you can simply avoid some of the biggest traps out there waiting for you. Here are four keys to success in betting on the majors in golf:
Consider the course – The course can obviously have a huge impact on who can succeed in a tournament. As they lengthen Augusta National they make it harder and harder for finesse golfers who lack length to shine. The other three Majors change location each time around, and that can have a big impact. Links courses can brutally punish people who are long but not accurate, and if they are couple with wind then shaping shots because crucial. A strong putter can have an edge if he is likely to be able to reach the greens as quickly as longer hitters, but if the course is longer than he is than his putting advantage could only allow him to keep up, not to get ahead. I could go on, but you get the point. Obviously you aren’t going to know the courses and the strengths and weaknesses of players very well if you don’t follow the sport closely. You can still do a good job of tracking what’s going on, though, by spending a bit of time learning about the course and looking at the performance stats of the players you are potentially interested in.
Think hard about value – In golf value is absolutely crucial – especially if you are just betting on who you think will win. There are well over a hundred different betting options in every Major, and just one will pay off. It’s very important, then, that any bet you make accurately reflects the risk involved in making the bet. Value is obviously important in any type of sports betting – the most important thing – but it’s even more significant when you are betting longshots that are far more likely not to pay off than they are to be winners. If you aren’t clearly focusing on value than it could be years before you realize that you don’t have an edge and that you are just flushing money away.
Be skeptical of Tiger – Tiger Woods is a wildly interesting phenomenon when it comes to sports betting. He’s always the heavy favorite in a major, and he likely will continue to be for years to come. He’s hard to totally dismiss in most tournaments, but his prices are almost always totally ridiculous in terms of value. Sportsbooks know that Tiger is the biggest name in the sports – and the only one that most care about – so they are obviously going to expect heavily skewed action on him, and are going to set their numbers accordingly. I’m not suggesting that betting on Tiger to win is always a terrible idea – he has obviously won more than his share of tournaments. It’s just that because value is almost non-existent it’s especially important that you are looking at what kind of form he is really in, whether he has a strong shot at coming out on top, and if a bet on him makes long term financial sense. In a lot of cases I feel much better not cashing a ticket because I didn’t bet on a heavy favorite that won than betting on one and losing when he didn’t come through.
Look beyond the names – Golf is a game of stars, and those stars draw the headlines, get the most endorsement deals and are the most attractive to casual bettors. If you look at the last five years, though, there are a lot of guys who are not anywhere close to the biggest names who have won majors – Johnson, Immelman, Cabrera, Schwartzel, McDowell, Glover, Ogilvy, Oosthuizen, Yang. That’s not a new phenomenon, either – there have always been guys who have the best weekend of their golf lives at just the right time. None of those guys would have been anywhere near the betting favorites in the tournament they won, and several of them were portrayed as massive upsets after the fact. In several cases, though, they were in string form heading into the tournament and should have had some consideration. I’m not at all suggesting that it was clear and obvious that they were all going to win – or even one of them. It’s very likely, though, that several of them offered real value in their futures odds because their level of readiness exceeded their name recognition and their odds as a result. You simply cannot be blinded by the golfers that make the headlines in your search for value. Experience and success at a tournament in the past is not nearly as important as it might seem as an indicator of potential success in the future.