Breaking Down the Different Types of Golf Bets

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The legal sports gambling market has exploded in recent years both in terms of the amount of bettors and bet volume. Golf, in particular, has become a popular sport for bettors, so it’s time to look at popular types of golf bets.

Sportsbooks’ total handle for PGA Tour bets increased nearly 40 percent from 2020 to 2021 and continue to grow at a steady rate. It’s time for you to become familiar with ways to bet on the PGA and other professional golf associations.

Golf differs from betting on sports like hockey, basketball, or baseball in that there’s no head-to-head matches on the course. However, in-game betting options allow bettors to select the top performer from select groups. There’s also an option to bet on outright tournament winners, which can provide some major payouts if betting on relative underdogs.

Let’s check out some of the most popular types of golf bets.

Popular Types of Golf Bets – Tournament Outright Winner

This is the most straightforward type of golf bet as it simply involves selecting a player you think is going to win a specific tournament. Most sportsbooks open up outright betting for each of the four majors throughout the year, meaning you can already bet on the PGA Championship, which doesn’t take place until May, a month prior. Scottie Scheffler was a +850 favorite in early April.

Even top players like Patrick Cantlay and Will Zalatoris had +2500 odds to win the PGA Championship, meaning a successful $100 bet on either of those would result in a $2,500 profit. You won’t find value that good in any NHL, NBA, or MLB game. 

Each-Way Betting

This is a similar pre-tournament bet to the outright bet and involves selecting players you think have a shot at winning the tournament. Essentially, you’re making two bets, one for the player to win the tournament and another for them to finish within a certain range in the standings, usually top-five. These types of golf bets can pay huge odds.

So, let’s assume you placed a $100 each-way bet for Cantlay at the PGA Championship. The total wager would be $200 ($100 on him winning the tournament and $100 on him finishing top-five). At top-five, you’ll receive a quarter of the outright odds and win that payout if Cantlay finishes top-five. You’ll win both bets if he wins the tournament. 

Top Nationality

Some sportsbooks even allow you to select the top finisher in a tournament from select countries or regions, usually the USA, Canada, Europe, South America, or Asia. These could involve fields of anywhere from three to 20 players.

Odds won’t be as high as outright tournament betting, but there’s still an opportunity to make some money here. If you know a certain tournament has been dominated by a particular country, you need to consider types of golf bets like these.

First Round Leader

Some players are better starters than they are finishers and this is where it can be a good idea to wager on the first round leader.

The leaderboard changes quite frequently in most golf tournaments. But if you’re looking for a way to profit after each of the four rounds, then the round leader is the bet for you.

Head-to-Head Handle is Growing – Types of Golf Bets

As mentioned, sportsbooks will match golfers together and give bettors the opportunity to select who they think will perform better during a given round. Even if they’re not playing together.

You can even wager on prop bets, like which player will win certain holes. There is a growing number of golf betting markets that are flooding bettors with different types of golf bets.

Types of Golf Bets – Live Betting

Live betting was a little late coming to golf, but it’s always been viewed as an attractive option for the future of golf betting. PGA Tour vice president of gaming Scott Warfield spoke about the in-game betting potential to Golf.com in May 2022.

“With IMG Arena, our exclusive data provider in the space, we’re able to offer different opportunities around every hole, every player, every shot. Because of our investment in ShotLink data and, again, the pace of play, it sets itself up great for the growth of in-play betting here in the States.”

Live betting is the quickest-growing sports betting segment and has become increasingly popular in the year since that Golf.com article. Now, most sportsbooks offer adjusted in-tournament odds on outright betting and other options. For instance, you may be able to get higher odds and, thus, more value, on Rory McIlroy winning a tournament if he has one of his typical slow starts in Round 1.

You can also place in-tournament wagers on how each golfer will score on particular holes. Some sports streaming services now offer live looks at a featured hole during a tournament. You can watch this and place wagers on the golfers that come through that hole – intrepid bettors will be able to take advantage of struggling golfers or those on a run and bet accordingly.

Winning Score and Cut Line

Some sportsbooks will also predict a winning score for the tournament and bettors can select whether or not the final winning score will be lower or higher than that total. In the same sense, they might also offer a projected cut line for golf tournament betting. These are typically only offered during the four majors – the Masters Tournament, U.S. Open, The Open Championship, and PGA Championship. 

Hole-in-One

There’s no more exciting shot in golf than a hole-in-one. As talented as the world’s top golfers are, it’s still quite rare to see a hole-in-one in a golf tournament, although sometimes there’s several recorded during the course of four rounds. Sportsbooks will offer this prop as a yes or no option. 

Some sportsbooks might even offer options for betting whether or not there will be an albatross, which is scoring a two on a par-5. Given the way some players strike the ball these days, an albatross isn’t as uncommon as it once was.

Types of Golf Bets for Non-PGA Tour Events

While the PGA Tour attracts the majority of all types of golf bets across all sportsbooks, bettors can also find books that will accept wagers on Champions Tour, European Tour, and LPGA events.

The LPGA’s five majors – Women’s PGA Champion, Evian Championship, Women’s British Open, US Women’s Open, and ANA Inspiration – usually attract a high volume of bets.

LIV Golf, the new rival to the PGA Tour, also hosts several events per year. Sportsbooks have been slow to add LIV to their handle. But many, including DraftKings, offer pre-tournament and in-game wager options for LIV.