Golf is one of the most popular sports to bet on and attracts large amounts of interest particularly around major championships and big events like the Ryder Cup.
However, whilst vast amounts of information has been written about trading other sports like football, horse racing and tennis, there is very little guidance available online about trading golf.
We thought it was about time we put that right and provided some examples of golf trading strategies for Betfair.
After all, with such huge fluctuations in odds during a golf tournament – particularly during a final round when players are jockeying for the title – it should present the budding trader with plenty of opportunities to make a profit.
We will delve into these further below, but first a quick introduction to how to trade the golf markets on Betfair.
How to Trade the Golf Markets on Betfair
Before we get into discussing specific trading strategies for the golf markets, it is probably worth a quick summary of how to trade golf on Betfair for those who may be unaware.
If you are going to trade golf tournaments, then really the only market worth talking about in terms of having enough liquidity to trade is the outright winner market. Most of the other markets like top 5 finish, top 10 finish and 1st round leader will have virtually no liquidity once they go in-running.
So you just want to concentrate on the tournament winner market. This week for example we have the Dunhill Links Championship on the European Tour. It has attracted a good field just after the Ryder Cup and there should be reasonable liquidity in-running.
So we go to the golf markets on Betfair and select the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, then click on Winner, which brings up the outright market:
As you can see, Brooks Koepka is the favourite for the event at 12.5.
So an example of a trade would be if you thought Koepka was going to do well, you could back him at 12.5 and then lay him at a lower price during the tournament if he gets towards the top of the leaderboard.
Let’s say you backed him for £10 at 12.5 and his price then falls to 6.0. You would be in a position then to take a profit of £10.80 whatever happens, by trading out of your position for equal gain.
Of course if Koepka struggles, his price would drift and you would then have to decide at what price you would want to lay him at and for what loss.
Either way though, that is a simple example of a golf trade on Betfair and shows you how it works.
A Word on Liquidity
Just quickly before we get onto the strategies, a brief word of caution about liquidity.
It is not a good idea to trade the Betfair markets if there is not enough liquidity, as you won’t be able to get out of your position easily and in some cases would be forced to take poor value.
Generally speaking, the top events like the majors, World Golf Championships and top PGA Tour events have strong liquidity and are ideal trading events. Usually events with the top players like Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and co will also mean good liquidity.
The events to be careful of are moderate European Tour events with fields lacking Europe’s top players – they will often have poor liquidity in-running. And certainly avoid women’s and seniors’ events, as they usually have dire liquidity and the options for trading will be very limited indeed.
This may of course change in future but for the time being it is sensible to stick to the big events with the top players.
OK, so having covered the issue of liquidity, let’s move on to discussing the strategies.
Strategy One – Trade the Course
The first strategy we use to trade the golf markets is what we have nicknamed “Trade the Course.”
What we mean by this is to use the way a course plays – with easy and difficult holes or stretches of holes – to set up your trades.
Players just about to play an easy hole or stretch of holes have a good chance of seeing their price drop if they can pick up a shot or more over that stretch.
Let’s look for example at one of the most famous golf courses in the world – Augusta National. The home of the Masters has many iconic holes that stick in the memory. But these holes vary significantly in their difficulty and players’ average scores over the holes.
The toughest stretch of holes at Augusta is the run from 10th to the 12th hole, which contain two long and testing par 4s that yield plenty of bogeys and double bogeys, as well as a tricky par 3 over water. These holes regularly play over par on average and most players will be delighted to come out of them at level par and would probably even often accept playing the holes in one over par.
So laying a player as they enter this stretch and backing them as they exit it can prove very profitable. If they struggle through it and throw in a double bogey or two then their odds will significantly increase.
Of course not every player will play the stretch badly. Some will play it in even par, meaning you will probably be able to trade out for roughly break-even. The odd player may even play it under par. But that’s OK – you can’t win every trade, it’s about winning a majority of them and in this case the large majority of times players will struggle over these holes rather than play them well. The trade works even better in windy or cold conditions.
Conversely, at Augusta the easiest holes are from 13 to 15 (you could even include 16 in that depending on where the pin is situated on the green), with two reachable par 5s and a relatively easy par 4, where many players will hit a wedge or short iron for their second shot.
So this time you would back the player as they begin the 13th hole and lay them as they finish the 15th (or 16th if the pin is located on the low side of the green where the balls tend to feed down to).
If they pick up two or three birdies – or even throw in an eagle – then you will be looking at a decent profit on the trade.
This trade doesn’t tend to work where you have leaders playing in the same group or groups close to each other so that they are playing the same holes at the same time, but in other circumstances we have found it to be a reliable and consistent trading method.
Each course will have its stretches of easy and tough holes. It is just a question of researching the course and looking at the stroke indexes for the holes. Obviously par 5s will normally play the easiest holes and yield the most birdies.
Strategy Two – Trading Shots
The second trading strategy we want to outline is one which involves trading around individual shots taken by players in-running.
This is a quickfire method that requires you to get in and out of trades very quickly, so it is essential to only operate this trade in tournaments with excellent liquidity – so the biggest tournaments with the top players.
The idea is to take advantage of big movements in prices that can happen on the basis of a single shot, particularly where the market has already built in expectations about what is likely to happen.
So for example it could be that a player has hit a great approach shot into five feet. The market will often shift as if they have already made the birdie, as people rush to grab a piece of the action, thus pushing the price lower. But if the player in question is a suspect short putter or has a particularly tricky putt, then it could prove effective to in fact lay them before they hit the putt.
In the instance that they miss the putt, the price will tend to move back towards the level it was before they hit the approach shot – or sometimes even higher – giving you a very healthy profit. If they hole the putt however, you may only get a few ticks down or even not much movement at all, meaning a very small loss or even a risk-free trade.
Conversely you could take a view on a very good putter who has just hit an approach shot into a green of around 20 to 25 feet. The market will normally presume they will two putt from there and if they do so the market is unlikely to move very much. But if they hole the putt, then their price can drop quite a lot. giving you a very good risk/reward ratio on the trade.
This works best on those players who are good long putters. Jordan Spieth is an example of a player who holes a lot of medium to long putts, although he is quite well known for it so the market may anticipate him holing a little more than with most players. Other players who are good long putters and worth keeping an eye on include Brandt Snedeker, Alex Noren, Phil Mickelson, Kevin Kisner and Brian Gay. It is also worth checking the PGA Tour putting stats for up-to-date figures on who the best putters on tour are.
You can apply the single-shot strategy to a variety of scenarios, including where players are about to hit a very tough shot (for example the 17th tee shot at Sawgrass or the approach shot at the 17th at St Andrews).
The key is to identify where there is the potential for a big price move, but that the market has not anticipated yet. Successfully carrying out this trade comes with practice and it is probably best to paper trade this one until you have mastered it because it does need some speed and experience to execute.
As we say, you need very good liquidity to operate it effectively so that you are not caught short unable to trade out your position.
Strategy Three – Trading Players in Contention
One of the most interesting strategies is to take a view on players who are in contention during the final round of a tournament.
This is an approach where you are looking to take on players who have shown themselves to be mentally suspect under pressure and to back those who have shown themselves to be able to close out tournaments when under the gun.
It can be very profitable but does take a degree of getting to know the players and their relative mental strength.
What you are looking for is a player who gets into the lead (or very close to the lead) during the final round and sees their odds drop to around evens or below, but where it is a tight situation with only a shot or two in it and a number of players close behind.
If this player has shown themselves to be suspect when getting into position to win a tournament, then it can be a great time to lay them.
Some players really struggle when the finishing line approaches and find it difficult to continue playing their normal game. Their nerves get the better of them and suddenly their swing becomes erratic and their putts a little edgy.
This lack of ability is usually reflected in stats for players who have a lot of second and third place finishes with very few wins. Some classic examples of this kind of player are Kevin Na and Charles Howell III. Sergio Garcia used to be one in major championships until he finally got over the line at Augusta, but you still would have made a lot of money by laying him when in contention in the majors up until then.
There are other players who are very consistent performers and rack up a lot of top tens but don’t win as often as people think or the odds often warrant. An example of this kind of player is Justin Rose, who has won only nine events in ten years on the PGA Tour, despite being in contention frequently.
Although he is undoubtedly an excellent golfer, Rose’s odds when he is contention will often crash in the same way as other players who have much more prolific winning records like Spieth, Johnson and Thomas, even though he doesn’t win nearly as often as those players. That is not to say Rose is mentally fragile, just that he doesn’t tend to hole as many putts as the other players at the very top of the game.
One thing to bear in mind when operating this strategy is that players’ mental strength is a changeable factor and it should not be presumed to be fixed. Sometimes a big breakthrough win can change a player’s whole outlook and make them much more confident when in contention in future. Be prepared to adjust your ratings of players’ mental strength over time, particularly after they’ve had a breakthrough win.
General Trading Advice
It is important to remember that success in trading is as much about your mindset and discipline as about the strategies you use.
If you don’t approach things in the right way and are undisciplined, then losses can ensue and can be quite painful.
Here are some general guidelines to bear in mind when approaching your trading:
- – Always have a clear plan before you start to trade – with specific entry and exit points and a plan of what to do if the trade goes against you.
- – Only risk a fixed percentage of your bank on each trade and don’t vary it.
- – Don’t go chasing losses or risking bigger amounts to try and make back a losing trade.
- – Don’t over-trade. If you are feeling tired, losing concentration and starting to make mistakes, it is best to take a break and come back later or the next day when you are fresher.
- – Don’t try and trade more than one event at a time – certainly when starting off anyway. You will probably end up in trouble and not able to keep on top of multiple events at once.
- – Consider using some trading software such as Bet Angel or Fairbot to assist your trading.
Hopefully following these simple guidelines will help you avoid making some of the mistakes that many traders commit when starting out.
Conclusion – Golf Trading Strategies
That is our introduction to trading the golf markets on Betfair and we hope it has given you some ideas to get going.
Just remember to always be disciplined in your trading and don’t go chasing losses and trading on a whim. Have your strategies worked out in advance and stick to them.
If you do that, golf trading can be quite profitable – and also enjoyable when one of your set-ups plays out just the way you planned it.
As always, please gamble responsibly and only risk money you can afford to lose.