Would you normally be clinging to an NBA Finals future ticket right about now?

Perhaps you'd be buried under a mountain of stats, while trying to set the best lineup for daily fantasy baseball? Well, as we're all aware, COVID-19 had different plans for our favorite pastimes and suddenly a huge chunk of the limited betting universe revolves around golf. That's right. Golf. It's a sport played in the open air that makes socially distancing easy AND it isn't run by a gang of malevolent billionaires intent on crying poverty, negotiating in bad faith, and underpaying the talent, who're the ones willing to take on the health risks of competing through a global pandemic? You better believe it!


Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning



The public got their first sneak peek of what a crowdless round would look like during The Match II, which pitted the twosome of Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning against the duo of Phil Michelson and Tom Brady. The event drew the largest cable numbers for golf ever, and, most importantly to our ends, represented some of the first bettable action that Vegas sports books offered in months. Sure, you could find places to put down money on NASCAR, UFC, or, if you were truly desperate, Madden simulations, but there's really nothing like blocking off five hours, flipping on the television, and engaging in financially-incentivised fandom. The rejiggered PGA season has officially kicked off, starting with the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, and will sprint to the season's finish line in thirteen weeks, culminating in Atlanta for the TOUR championship. That doesn't include the Ryder's Cup or the further postponed Masters Tournament, meaning you'll have a dozen or so chances to make some money in a sport that offers value and prop bets that others could never.


The Value of Golf

Any old Remax agent will tell you the number one rule of real estate is "location, location, location," in much the same way any seasoned bettor would preach the importance of value, value, value. Luckily, the most attractive aspect of wagering on golf is the consistently high paying odds. Unless, you've just stepped out of a time machine during El Tigre's prime, it's pretty safe to assume that even the heaviest favorite at a given tournament will pay out around +700. To get a number like that on NFL action, you'd need to hit a three team parlay, maybe four. Obviously, these odds get set for a reason. In the fickle business of sports entertainment, on any given day, golf can be the ficklest, especially when it comes to picking a winner, straight-up. The best golfers in the world can look silly on a certain course, and in turn, make us look silly for believing in them. But don't let that discourage you. To further entice us, the books will offer good odds on things like top ten or twenty finishes, along with some other interesting head-to-head action and props. Knowing value exists is a good start, but knowing how to maximize that value is the only way to come out ahead.


Finding the Value

Let me start by dispelling you of any dream that involves a Biff-esque hot streak leading to riches and fame. While we may not have a sports almanac from the future, we do have access to the next best thing for bettors: Data. Not many people know this, but golf has been on the forefront of statistical analysis for years. If you've ever enjoyed watching a towering home run and, within seconds, learning the exact exit velo, launch angle, and estimated distance of said dinger, then you owe golf a thank you note. All the technology making that feat possible originated in the desire to better breakdown a golfer's swing. We live in a time where that information, on top of the more down-the-middle stats (like driving distance, greens in regulation, and one-putt percentage) are readily accessible on PGATOUR.com for all to see and study. It would be a dereliction of duty to not log on before putting your money down. Even some cursory research in the categories listed above can be enough to identify strong value plays. If a course plays short with an abundance of par 4's, like the Colonial Golf Course, then you can surmise driving distance won't be much of a factor, but iron play and putting will be crucial. Golf's like any other sport in that you want to identify and target favorable match ups. Did you spot a pro team resting it's star player on the road for the second half of a back-to-back? You'd bet the other side of that just as hard as a golfer, who's not driving the ball very hard and three-putting regularly, to miss the cut at a long course with tough greens. In that same vein, the way everyone's looking for a hot team to ride to a glorious stretch of easy money, you can lock onto a golfer, who finds the zone and plays out of their heads for a weekend. The quickest scan of their recent finishes will clue you in on who's generally been playing well. However, there are other areas to investigate further, in terms of which golfer's feeling it. A great example would be Charles Schwab's winner, Daniel Berger. He was getting +2000 odds going into the final round, meaning a ten dollar bet would pay out two hundred. What people should've noticed is that he lead the tour in rounds at or below par. This is all to say, if you do your research and zero in on value, there's plenty of fun to be had and money to be made, while enjoying the gentleman's game from your socially-distanced couch.

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