Golf betting guide for beginners

Golf is a hugely popular sport in North America and many fans love to place a bet online on a player heading into the major tournaments.


But it’s not all about the majors when it comes to golf betting! Here at Unibet we’ve created a vast market of golf betting odds that cover tournaments throughout the season, as well as golf betting specials and long-term bets.


You’ll find it hard to meet a golf fan who doesn’t have a tip for the US Open or the Masters. So why keep those conversations between you, when you could bet on golf and put your predictions to the test?


Unibet’s golf betting markets offer something for everyone. You can bet on the PGA and European Tours, majors, amateur events and even individual players themselves.


This golf betting guide for beginners will introduce the main markets punters use when betting on golf. You’ll discover how to bet on golf and what are the smartest tactics for placing a bet before and during tournaments. Check out our sports betting guide for betting tips on other sports.


Basic rules of golf 

Golf is a simple game where a player hits a ball with a stick or club into a hole. Tournaments can feature scores of players, all of whom are trying to complete a round of 18 holes in the fewest number of shots possible. A tournament on the PGA or European Tours will usually last four days, covering four rounds of golf per player. Therefore, a player will shoot 72 holes in a tournament.


Players are ranked on a leaderboard depending on their tally. But because players start at different times of the day, a gold leaderboard records their par score, not their overall tally. A par score is the average shots the tournament organisers think a player should take to get the ball in the hole. One round usually averages 72 shots. So, if you take 74 shots to go round 18 holes, you will score +2 or ‘two over’.


Rounds can sometimes average 69 or even 73 shots — but the general principle of the par remains the same. It acts as an index for which you can compare players. For example, one player might be leading the tournament on -6, while another player could be two shots behind in second place on -4. If the leader then shoots one over par in the next hole, they drop back to -5.


The tournament winner is the player who finishes all 72 rounds in the fewest number of shots. If there is a tie, players will likely compete in a tie-break. This could be on one hole or over three holes, depending on the tournament rules.


Scoring in golf 

Golf scoring may look complicated but, as we have explained with the par system, it’s a way of keeping everyone together on an index. And there is some strange terminology you will hear on golf courses in regards to the scoring system. As we have mentioned, if you shoot a four on a ‘par four’ hole, it’s called a par. But the terminology changes if you shoot above or below the par.


Albatross – three strokes less than par

Eagle – two strokes less than par

Birdie – one stroke less than par

Par – equal number of strokes as the hole’s par value

Bogey – one stroke more than par

Double bogey – two strokes more than par

Triple bogey – three strokes more than par


Each hole in golf has a specific par depending on its difficulty. If it’s a short hole, it will likely be a ‘par three’ hole. But long holes, which require a player to tee-off onto the fairway and then take another big swing towards the green, could be ‘par four’ and even ‘par five’.


What is the cut in golf?

The cut in golf is an imaginary line that splits the tournament’s players in two. Usually after the first two days of a tournament, the bottom half of the leaderboard is cut away and those who ‘miss the cut’ are out of the competition. You may therefore hear the term ‘make the cut’, when a player has recorded a score good enough to play on the Saturday and Sunday.


You can bet on players making and missing the cut on almost all tournaments covered by Unibet! It’s usually a good way to get into gold betting as you can then track your chosen player throughout the first two rounds.


How to bet on golf 

Golf is an individual sport and therefore it is hard to predict who will win a specific tournament. But many golf betting fans still like to bet on the winner and that is by far the most popular bet. This is when you look at the list of competitors ahead of the tournament and simply place a bet on who you think will win. Some markets will be available live during the tournaments, with odds on the players rising and falling depending on their success on the course.


Betting on the winner in golf can be tricky. So other punters like to make an Each Way bet. This is much like horse racing betting, when you back a horse to finish within the top three or four in a race. In golf, you can sometimes bet on a place up to 10 players back! The good thing about Each Way golf betting is that you widen your chances of winning the bet. But of course, the odds will not be as attractive.


For example: You bet $5 on Roger Sloan at 5/1 Each Way in the Canadian Open. He finishes third and you win your bet! Had Sloan won the title, your bet would have been split in half, so you win half on the title win and half on the place.


As mentioned above, you can also bet on the cut in golf — and this is an excellent way to follow the lesser-known players who you think will be good enough to make it into the final two rounds, but who won’t win the tournament.


Individual round betting is also popular in golf. This is when you bet on who will have the lead at the end of a certain round. This is called the ‘clubhouse lead’ and is very popular on the first day of tournaments. That’s because the lesser-known players with bigger odds could have a surprisingly strong opening round and take the clubhouse lead. Usually those players then fall away over the four days of the tournament.


And of course there are many season bets in golf that you can place throughout the year. There are four majors in golf, the Race to Dubai, the money-spinning Players Championship and the Ryder Cup. That’s a lot of tournaments for which you can back players to win at any time in the season.


Likewise, betting on player specials is a fun way of tracking a player throughout the season. You could, for example, back Matt Kuchar to win a major at some point in the year. That spreads your bets over four tournaments, rather than just the one!


Best tournaments to bet on in golf

The four majors are the most popular tournaments in golf and well worth betting on here before you look at smaller competitions. That’s because not only does Unibet offer more markets and interesting odds during the majors, but also there is plenty more coverage in the media. It means you can read up on the latest golf news and make more reasoned decisions on which players to bet on.


The four majors are: The Masters, PGA Championship, The US Open and The Open. They take place between April and July each year and attract the best golf players in the world.


There is also the Ryder Cup, which is staged once every two years. The Ryder Cup is a team game that pits players from the USA and Europe against each other. The tournament usually takes place towards the end of summer and is a battle to get to 14.5 points first. Players compete in tea tournaments — foursomes and fourballs — and earn a single point if they win their match. The last day of the Ryder Cup is a straight shootout between all 12 players, who pair off and battle one-on-one for points.


Bet on golf live 

It is also possible to bet on golf live and In Play here at Unibet. While some markets close at the start of tournaments, many others continue with fluctuating live odds throughout the four days of action. This means you can follow you bets and even Cash Out if you like, rather than waiting for the end of the hole, round or tournament!


We make sure we cover the biggest golf tournaments on the planet and provide the latest In Play odds, so you can make the best decisions at the correct time.


In Play betting is also great for when you’re on the go. Here at Unibet you can bet on your smartphone or tablet, so there’s no need to be tied to a home computer!

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