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Handicapping the PGA

The first point I’d like to make is that everyone has their own style. There are a myriad of bets, propositions, and action when it comes to wagering in golf. Some bettors throw a large dollar amount on one or two golfers and let their bets ride the entire week (most notably the Wisconsin bettor who won over $1.2 million when Tiger Woods won the 2019 Masters), while others expand their exposure by selecting a high percentage of the field across multiple bets utilizing small units. I consider myself to fall somewhere in the middle, with a lot of focus on the advanced analytics of each golfer and their respective matchups.
Analytics Cappers’ Golf Betting Principles

1. There may be up to 150 players in a field and over 70 players after the cut. For someone who puts a lot of energy and research into just one play, the size of the field forces me to narrow down the population. In other words, I identify 20 to 25 players to focus on throughout the week. I base this on their recent form, historical performances at that particular week’s tournament, and so forth. This allows me to have a good idea of who will do well (not necessarily to win) at that course. Each course is unique and each course will fit a player’s playing style and strengths differently. Therefore, you generally have the same players that compete at certain courses and consequently you have the same players that don’t do well on other courses.

2. I tend to focus on the same bets in almost every event. It could be due to comfort level or perhaps the statistics I gravitate towards yields similar analysis or a little bit of both. Somewhat of a misnomer since we’re talking about gambling, but I prefer to have a little more predictability than most so I shy away from certain big value proposition bets. My advice is to initially find a couple bet types that you understand and slowly expand and branch out as you learn more about the edges in golf.

The bets I’ve found advantages in include: Round Head to Head Matchups, Round Player Over/Under Props, Round Leader Props, Tournament Head to Head Matchups, Finishing Position Props (pre-tournament and after each round), and Outright Winner Props (pre-tournament and after each round). I rarely stray away from those.

My most profitable investments have been with the final two bet types listed. After researching and narrowing down my targeted list to 20 to 25 players, I like to throw them into Top 10, Top 20, Top 30, and Top 40 Finishes respectively. I’ve found that sprinkling my targeted players in these prop bets allows me many more hedging opportunities as the tournament goes on, leading me to my last point.

3. I’m a numbers guy at my core. I look at a 4-round tournament like a mathematical equation with hundreds of x and y variables. In other words, I’m always taking on positions so that the entire collection of bets throughout the tournament guarantees me a profit at the end of the week. This means my ceiling may not be as high as someone throwing $10,000 on a single player to win at +2000 odds, but it also means my floor is much safer and I’m essentially betting with “house” money by the fourth round. I call it organic hedging and I rarely press or stack any of my golf bets. Always try to find the perfect balance between realistic, semi-realistic, and “if this hits, we’re going to Vegas” bets. This will make it much simpler to identify which bets can be hedged or which can be left alone.

My distribution:

Realistic bets: 1 unit
Semi-Realistic bets: 0.5 units
“I got bottle service!” bets: 0.25 units

I am not a professional bettor. I have a 9-5 day job that I’m very happy with. But, I have been leveraging data and analytics seriously in sports gambling since 2016 and have experienced profitable years in every year since. Since the resumption of the PGA tour after COVID-19’s outbreak and subsequent health pandemic, there have been 5 golf tournaments and I’ve made money at all 5 tournaments. Consistency is the name of the game and I’m looking to do this for many years.

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