Golf is an excellent competitive pursuit in its own right, but nothing beats putting a little money on the line at safe and reputable golf betting sites.
Best Golf Betting Sites
Before we get into the mechanics of gambling on the great game of golf, let’s talk about where to bet on golf online. Our main focus in choosing a golf betting site is its reputation. In the world of online wagering, trust is a mandatory part of doing business.
Reputable golf betting websites have been around for many years. New golf betting sites come and go, but the ones that are around long term and maintain squeaky-clean reputations are the ones that are worth playing at.
Here’s a quick overview of golf bookmakers that fit those criteria. You may recognize the names on this list because they’ve been in business for years. During that time, each of these has paid winners and operated in good faith.
Golf Betting Bonuses
A long-running marketing tactic used by online golf betting sites around the world is the new player signup bonus. Just visit any gambling website and one of the first things you’ll see plastered all over the front page is a first deposit bonus. The basic promise always looks the same: sign up with us and we’ll give you extra cash on your first deposit.
All golf betting bonuses are unique, but all offer you cash in return for making a deposit. The idea is to give you a good reason to sign up. If you are skeptical whenever you see promises of free money, you’re not alone. There has to be a catch, right?
The “catch” is that you don’t get the free cash up front. In most cases, any golf betting bonus that you get for signing up and depositing is considered “pending” until you place enough wagers with your own cash to release the bonus. All in all, this isn’t a bad deal. Yes, deposit bonuses require you to place wagers before it is released, but if you were already planning on gambling, it can be a good deal.
We don’t recommend choosing a golf betting site based solely on bonus offers. Security and reputation are much more important, use incentive offers to find added value.
How We Rate Golf Sportsbooks
The best golf betting sites offer year-round coverage. Event frequency is another factor to consider. Not all sites are equal. We only list golf betting websites that offer competitive odds and betting lines for all PGA, LPGA, and EPGA events. Most will also offer wagering on smaller tours like the Web.com and Championship tours.
Types of Golf Bets and Wagers
Golf bookmakers have come up with some clever ways to offer just as much betting variety in golf is there is for any other sport.
- Golf Futures and Outrights: This is the most common and simplest type of golf bet. In a futures bet, the sportsbook provides you with a list of all golfers expected to compete in some future tournament. Odds are offered on each golfer and you’re welcome to choose one or more golfers to win the whole thing. Your wager wins if your golfer takes first place. Payouts for golf futures tend to be high due to the difficulty in predicting just one player out of many to win it all.
- Golf Match Betting: Match betting takes any two golfers in a tournament and puts them in a heads-up battle for the purposes of betting. The golf betting site lists two golfers with moneyline odds and lets you choose either one to win the match. The winner is determined by who has the lowest score between the two at the end of the tournament.
- Three Ball Betting: 3-ball bets work just like the match bets described above except with three different golfers. The bookmaker lists three golfers, assigns each of them odds and then it is your job to predict which of these three will end up with the lowest score at the conclusion of the tournament.
- Golf Specials and Prop Bets: Prop bets cover everything other than predicting which golfers will win or perform better in a specific tournament. Examples of golf prop bets might be odds on the nationality of the tournament winner, who will finish top in the money rankings at the end of the year, whether or not there will be any holes-in-one and so on.
Major Golf Betting Events
With a few exceptions, PGA tour events are hosted as every-man-for-himself tournaments. Each player plays four rounds of 18-hole golf and the champion is determined by who has the lowest overall score for the entire 72 holes. This is called “stroke play” golf.
This is markedly different than “match play” in which each hole is played as an individual competition. The goal is still to finish each hole with the lowest possible score, but total strokes don’t carry over from one hole to the next. The player who wins the most individual holes is declared the winner.
Stroke play and match play change the strategy for golf and reward different styles of play. Stroke play events pit the player against everyone else in the tournament at the same time and every stroke has great significance. One poorly played hole is all it takes to change the outlook of the entire tournament.
Match play events are typically played player vs. player in a round robin format. Individual strokes don’t matter as much because (1) the worst that can happen is you lose one hole and (2) individual strokes affect only one other person. This is why it’s legal to concede the hole to an opponent in match play but not in stroke play.
For the most part, match play rewards aggressive golfers. Risk-taking is acceptable because of point 1 from above. If your aggressive strategy blows up in your face, you can still recover and beat the opponent. Stroke play events reward steady, conservative golfers because the consequences for messing up a single hole impact you for the duration of the tournament.
Going back, most of the big events you see on TV are stroke play events. The four biggest events in all of golf are collectively known as The Majors. These major tournaments attract the biggest names in golf and are considered the most prestigious tournaments in the sport, naturally they also generate the biggest online golf betting handle. The four major golf tournaments that make up the Majors are:
The Masters Tournament is one of the four major championships that take part each year on the professional golf circuit. It is commonly referred to as just The Masters or The US Masters outside of America. It is the first of the golf majors to be played each year, taking place in the first full week of April. As with other golf majors, it regularly attracts the top golfers in the world, although the field does tend to be smaller than the others as entry to the event is by invitation only.
The Masters Tournament is the only major that is played at the same course every year – the other three all rotate through different locations. The Masters always played at the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia. This golf course was opened in 1933 but has been altered many times since and is generally considered a testing course.
There are a number of traditions associated with The Masters, the most famous being the legendary green jacket. Other traditions include the awarding of the Silver Cup to the lowest scoring amateur who makes the cut, and a crystal vase to the player with the lowest daily score.
If a player scores a hole-in-one during The Masters, they are awarded a large crystal bowl.
Winners of The Masters are invited to play in all future Masters Tournaments, as well as earning invitations to the other three majors for the following five years. The Masters has a strong association with amateur golf and another tradition is that the defending Masters champion plays in the same group as the current US Amateur champion.
US Open Betting
The US Open Championship, commonly referred to as just the US Open, takes place in mid-June every year. It is one of the top golf tournaments in the world and attracts serious interest from golf bettors.
As with the other majors, the US Open Championship always features the very best players in the world.
The British Open Championship Betting
The Open Championship, often referred to as the British Open, takes place annually in Scotland or England, and is held on the weekend of the third Friday in July. It is a prestigious tournament loved by players and fans alike.
We list some of the most common wagers that can be placed on the Open Championship and also provide some background on this tournament.
The Open Championship is the oldest of the four majors, and also the only one to be played outside of the United States.
As with the other three majors, it is held annually, at one of a select number of golf courses. There are currently nine golf courses on the rota, five of which are in Scotland and four which are in England. The Open Championship is always played on a links course.
There are a number of ways to gain a place at the Open Championship. Players can qualify locally or internationally, or through one of a number of exemptions. Exemptions are largely in place to ensure that the top players all get to take their place in the field.
The top fifty ranked players in the world automatically qualify, as do the top thirty in the previous year’s money lists. The players who finished in the top 10 of the previous Open Championship are also automatically invited, as is any previous Open champion aged 60 or under.
PGA Championship Betting
The PGA Championship is is played annually in August, around 4 weeks after the British Open. The venue for the PGA Championship rotates every year, and it has been played at a number of different courses. It is often referred to as “Glory’s Last Shot”, a reference to it being the final major played each season. The PGA Championship regularly features the top players in the world and attracts large worldwide audiences.
The first PGA Championship took place at the Siwanoy Country Club in New York, in 1916 and the winner received $500 in prize money. These days, the winner of the PGA Championship will earn in excess of $1 million. It started out as a match play tournament but is now a stroke-play contest, as are all golf majors.
The PGA Championship is the only one of the four majors that doesn’t invite leading amateurs to take part, although it is possible for amateurs to qualify through winning one of the other majors. There are 20 places reserved for leading club professionals. The maximum field is 156 entrants, and there are a number of ways to qualify for the tournament. Any player that wins the PGA Championship automatically qualifies for life.
Ryder Cup Betting
Another major tournament hosted every other year is the Ryder Cup. This one is different than most as it pits two teams, one from the US and one from Europe, in a series of heads-up match play competitions. Team captains are chosen each year and they draft a dream team of golfers from the area.
Although the Ryder Cup is one of the most prestigious events in golf, it offers no prize money. This event is played purely for pride and glory.
Golf Betting Tips and Strategy
Golf is a tough sport to gain an advantage in because individual players are so well-known. This makes it easy for golf oddsmakers to set the lines in comparison to team sports, where there is much more information to analyze. You’re going to have to do some work to get an advantage in golf handicapping.
Number one is to keep up to date on all the latest golf news. Check golf-specific news sites, watch how the top players are doing, and look for clues for each golfer’s mental state.
Golf is largely a mental game and personal issues can have an impact on a player’s game. Just think back to a few years ago when Tiger Woods went through that high-profile divorce, having a profound impact on his game. It won’t always be that obvious, but it’s worth keeping an eye on what golfers are up to off the links.
Mike Murphy is the founder of OnlineBettingSites.com and has over 10 years of experience in the legal online betting industry. A regular attendee of industry trade shows and conferences, Mike is a strong proponent of regulated markets and responsible gambling policies.