Brooks Koepka and Rory McIlroy make this week's staking plan
Boroks Koepka and Rory McIlroy

Golf betting guide: Bet types, rules, major championship information, odds, in-play and more

Golf betting has arguably never been more popular - perhaps a reflection of greater competition at the top of both the men's and the women's game, versus the years of Tiger Woods and Annika Sorenstam dominating markets.

With fields usually at least 100-strong, changing weather and venues, and the rise of circuits just below the top level, opportunities for the punter are virtually year-round, accompanied by generous each-way terms.

There is surely no other sport in which the prospect of a 100/1 winner could be called realistic, almost without exception - though the majors remain the domain of the very best players in the sport.

Here's a guide to the markets you can bet on and the factors which may inform decision-making.


Who will win the tournament? It's a difficult question to answer, but the one most gamblers seek to. Typically, bookmakers price up the main events around 72 hours before tee-off and the vast majority of players are 10/1 or bigger.

Each-way terms have changed over the last decade, evolving from 1/4 1-2-3-4-5 to the point where it's more common to see 1/5 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8. This means any each-way bet would be paid out down to eighth place, though dead-heat reductions are possible.

FAQ: What is each-way betting?

Each-way betting is common in the UK and Ireland, and involves splitting stakes between win and place. If the selection wins, both parts of the bet are paid out. If the selection places, the place part is paid out but the win part loses. Place returns are vary but are derived from the win price, typically at 1/4 or 1/5 of the odds in golf, but 1/2 or 1/3 in tennis. In golf, as many as 10 places are paid out in major championships, again varying from firm to firm. In knockout sports like tennis and snooker, places are typically paid for first and second.

First-round leader

This market is considered even more difficult to solve that outright, as punters attempt to predict who will shoot the lowest round on day one of a tournament. In essence, better golfers are more likely to demonstrate their superiority the longer play goes on, and over 18 holes it would be fair to say that most players in any given field are viable candidates.

This is reflected in the odds, with top-ranked players typically around double the price they are in the outright market. Each-way betting is again common, usually with five or six places paid rather than seven or eight in the outright book.

Top 10/20 finish

Betting on players to finish in the top 10 or 20 is a good option for punters who fancy a player for whom victory may be considered a stretch. Equally, it could be considered a strong option with the sport's best players who, while short in the betting, are hard to keep out of the frame.

Betting on the top 10 or 20 means the return is the same whether a player finishes first or fifth, assuming there are no dead-head deductions. Perhaps the best example of a player who has been worth following in this market is Tony Finau, who has 41 top-10 finishes since his 2016 Puerto Rico Open victory, but regularly starts tournaments as one of the big names and shorter-priced players.

Top nationalities

Usually of interest in majors and bigger events versus run-of-the-mill tournaments, these markets are offered by most bookmakers, and cover most nationalities - though you may find 'top South American' rather than separate markets for top Colombian and top Argentinian.

The nature of the bet is straightforward - which of these players will finish highest up the leaderboard? Each-way terms vary across markets, depending on the size of the field - there are often many Australian players, meaning you may get places up to three or four, whereas a top Canadian market may only feature three or four and therefore be 'win only'.

Will there be a hole in one?

Another market which is simple in essence, with prices based on strong statistical modelling and therefore arguably lacking in opportunity for punters. Still, come the Masters expect many to take a chance on a hole in one and often specifically at the 16th hole on Sunday, where the pin position usually makes a hole in one more likely.

Gone though are the days where bookmakers got this totally wrong - and were punished by the so-called Hole-in-One Gang.

To make/miss the cut

In most golf tournaments, the field is cut at halfway - players who are not inside the cut line (typically tied-65th) do not play the weekend. Bookmakers allow you to wager on this, and you'll see tempting prices about the best players in the sport - a reflection of the fact that they do not miss many cuts.

Some punters consider the Masters as an opportunity to perm-up stronger players, as it is considered to be an easy cut to make. That's because the field size is reduced, and includes many older, former Masters winners who struggle to break 80.

By contrast, the Open and US Open, given their nature, sometimes attract bets on struggling, world-class players to miss the cut. One good example is Bubba Watson in the US Open - despite being among the world's top players for a decade now, he has missed more cuts than he's made in his national championship, yet typically starts odds-against in the 'to miss the cut' market.


The above term translates to 'before the off', and in essence means long-range or futures betting. For example, you can usually bet on the Masters 51 weeks before it begins, with markets going up immediately after the previous renewal.

This affords punters the opportunity to get on a player at a big price, even knowing that stakes are usually refunded if they do not qualify for the tournament. However, it's worth remembering that antepost each-way terms are far less generous than they will be during the week of the tournament.


Some bookmakers offer forecast betting - i.e. to predict the first and second. Common in racing, this is particularly difficult in golf where there is so much strength in depth, and much that can go wrong.

At the 2021 Genesis Invitational, a strong tournament, the shortest-priced dual forecast (i.e. first and second in any order) option was priced at 40/1, with straight forecasts (i.e. specifying the order) beginning at 110/1.

Bogey-free rounds

Bookmakers often price up the big names to shoot bogey-free rounds, particularly in majors. Note that this is especially difficult to achieve but you may find opportunities if the weather forecast suggests benign conditions.

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