How to bet on golf

Exclusive secrets on how and where to place a wager this year

How to bet on golf

Betting can be a precarious business but it can generate a lot of fun for very little outlay, especially on golf.
How to bet on golf
Andy Clifton.

We all have our favourites and our hunches about who's going to win, especially when it comes to The Open Championship and the other majors.

So Golfmagic went to a regular visitor to our Forum, Andy Clifton, a very handy golfer and a member a Windlesham Golf Club, who also happens to be head of communications at Ladbrokes one of the world's biggest bookies.

He reveals in this exclusive Q&A not only how to place a bet but also on whom to place it this year. I'm sure you will find it fascinating.

How can I find out who's playing where each week and when do the odds for each event go up? Where's the best place to find them?

The final fields for many events are not decided until the
day or two before the tournament starts as many of the big names, who are exempt for most tournaments, wait until the last minute until deciding to play.

Best sources of information are the US Tour ( and the European Tour (
This is where we get most of our information although in exceptional circumstances we contact the respective Tour press offices.

How to bet on golf
Tiger - the man to beat.

Once we have set the odds for each tournament they will be available and on display in our betting shops and at

Odds for most tournaments are available by Tuesday morning at the latest.

Who decides the odds and how? What factors are taken into consideration?

We have a team of sports odds compilers who set the odds on a whole range of sports (excluding horse racing, greyhound racing and football).

Golf probably occupies more of their time than any other sport, especially with at least 150 players in most tournaments, so many different Tours have to be kept an eye on.

There are 3 main factors in setting the odds:

1. Current form - clearly, players who have been playing well recently are quite likely to carry on playing well and vice versa. The exception can be players who have won for the first time. They will often suffer "mental letdown" and should be avoided in the week after they have won.

For more experienced players, the reverse can be true. Look at Tiger and Lee Westwood in 2000 - one of them seemed to win every week once they got hot!

How to bet on golf
Monty - chances running out.

2. Course form - some players often play well on a certain course or a certain type of course, or even putt well on a certain type of grass!

Others have positive mental associations with a particular country in which they have played well before. Others seem best at certain times of the year, some players need a couple of weeks rest to be at their best. All of this gets factored in to the odds.

3. Whom people will want to back - our opinion might be that Tiger Woods is 10/1 to win the US Masters (it's not by the way!), but if we put up 10/1, we'd get knocked over in the rush and Ladbrokes would probably go bust if we took all the money that people wanted to place at those odds.

So if we thought that Tiger was going to struggle at Augusta, we'd probably price him at 5/1 - we'd still take plenty of money, but we wouldn't be risking the whole company!

What's the minimum bet I can place?

There is no real minimum, but let's say 50p - even Bob Warters can afford that! If you are betting at (and I do most of my betting
on the internet these days), then the minimum deposit is £10, but once that tenner is in your account you can split it up into whatever stakes and bet on whatever events you like (including the next Archbishop of Canterbury).

Do I have to pay tax now on my winnings?

No. There is no betting tax to pay, whichever way you choose to bet (shops, telephone or internet).

How to bet on golf
Good Masters bet.

How do I place a bet in a shop, they look scary places?

Betting shops have a bad image to overcome, but they are far less intimidating places than they used to be. In fact we are in the process of spending £40million on some superstores in major towns that have all the latest technology. They are very comfortable and stylish and even have an Italian coffee shop with a trained 'barrista' to serve you your latte and a muffin while you place a fiver each way on Monty.

If you're ever in the West End of London, check out our new Ladbrokes shop just off Trafalgar Square.

The process is very simple. On one of the slips provided, write down the name of the player you want to back, the tournament and how much you want to stake and hand it to a member of staff. If you have any questions, just ask. Staff are trained to help and no-one will laugh at you, however stupid you think your question might be.

What's the difference between 'to win' and 'each way'?

A win bet is fairly obvious. You are backing your player to win. Betting each way is effectively two separate bets - one bet on your player to win and one on him to finish in the first four (at a quarter of his win odds) or in the first
Five places (at one-fifth of his odds). So a bet of £5 each way would cost you £10.

If you backed Monty at 20/1 to win The Open and he finished third, then the place part of your bet would be settled at 5/1 if you chose first four, or 4/1 if you chose the first five. Clearly you need to decide this at the
time you place your bet!

How to bet on golf
Hot chance of Garcia major.

What if the tournament is fore-shortened to, say, 36 holes?

We will pay out as long as an official result is declared and the tournament counts towards the order of merit/money list. So if you'd backed Paul McGinley for the Wales Open last year(when it was decided in a playoff after 36 holes), you were still on a winner.

Can you give some examples of what is meant by spread betting (And what's a typical stake)?

Spread betting is not something that Ladbrokes does and it is not for the faint-hearted or the novice punter - the basic premise is that the more correct you are with your forecast the more you win. The reverse is also true!

How to bet on golf
David Duval -spread bet contender.

Companies handling spread bets might offer prices on where David Duval would finish in the Open, for example setting the target at 21st-24th position. If you thought Duval might struggle this year you might ‘buy’ or ‘go high’ at 24 for £20 a point.

Therefore, if he finishes, say 45th, you would win 45 minus 24 (=21) times your stake. That’s £420. However, if the unthinkable happened and he successfully defended his the Claret Jug, you would lose 24 minus 1..that’s 23 times your £20 stake, equivalent to £460.

If you fancy a crack at spread betting, contact Sporting Index or IG Index for an information pack but consider it closely before you indulge. It's an exciting way to have a wager, but it’s highly volatile.

What are the odds on Tiger winning a) one, b)two, c)three, d) four majors in 2002?

Tiger Woods is 3/1 to win the US Masters and 4/1 for each of The Open at Muirfield, US Open at Bethpage State Park in New York and US PGA at Hazeltine in Minnesota.

You can get 100/1 with Ladbrokes to complete the 2002 Grand Slam. He is 50/1 to win any three majors this year (i.e. you have to nominate which three he will win).

Who else are favourites to win the majors this year?

How to bet on golf
Augusta - Tiger 3/1 to win.

The usual suspects really. Phil Mickelson, David Duval, and Sergio Garcia are currently all 12/1 to win the Masters behind 3/1 favourite Tiger.
Alterantively, just take a look at the official world rankings and any of the guys in the top 10 will be contending at some point in the year. They are a pretty good guide to form.

The specific odds for each tournament will obviously depend on how everyone is playing in the run up to each major, but those three players are sure to be the leading contenders in the betting, besides Tiger.

How do you sum up Monty's, Sergio's, Duval's,Toms' and Mickelson's chances of a major victory this year and at which courses where are they best suited?

Personally, I would love to see Monty win a major, but I'm starting to think it's not going to happen. The irony is that if he'd won at Pebble Beach in 1992 he'd probably have at least three majors by now, but he's had enough chances (runner-up in US Open 1994 and 1997 and in the US PGA in 1995) and a player of his class should probably have converted one.

I don't know too much about the US Open venue this year at Bethpage State Park ( which hosts the event for the first time) but it will probably be his best chance of breaking the duck.

Sergio is arguably the best player in the world on current form and he has both the arrogance and self-belief that not many others possess and knows he can beat Tiger. He’s sure to be in the shake up at Muirfield in July . I just hope he doesn't have to finish his final round in the dark by the time he's gripped and re-gripped the club so many times.

Duval was arguably the King of the Majors last year - 2nd, 16th, 1st and 10th in the four successive events, which is quite a record, considering injury prevented him from playing a month before the Masters. I forecast he will have another big year.

David Toms will be in a very different position this year now that he has established himself as a leading world player. I think he will struggle to live up to expectations in the majors. But don't take my word for it. I'm the man who backed Jean Van de Velde at 150/1 to win at Carnoustie!

How to bet on golf
Greg Norman -missed chances.

Mickelson in the majors reminds me of Greg Norman at the Masters. He should have won about four green jackets but he's yet to get off the mark. Mind you, ‘Lefty’ did nothing wrong in the US PGA last year. He shot 66,66,66 and 68 and still got beat.

Now he's rested and has been taking it easy, he is focussing on the majors this year. I wouldn't be surprised if he wins at Augusta – it’s the place that will punish him least for an errant drive under pressure on the back nine holes.

His bad shot is a hook, which on the reachable par 5s is taking him away from trouble as a left hander.

Can I always get odds for a player or players to beat Tiger in specific events?

Not normally, although if your player does beat Tiger he's never going to be very far away from winning.

Can you explain other forms of betting (e.g.Dual forecast, Trifector etc? Do they apply in golf betting?).

You can bet on the dual forecast in the majors (picking the first two in the event in either order). But more popular are the markets on who will be the top European player in each major, or who will score the lowest in each three -ball or two-ball pairings (which is available at most tournaments).

Can I bet on the final under par score of an event?

How to bet on golf
Langer - Augusta specialist.

Not usually, but occasionally we'll offer bets on the winning score in The Open. It would normally be too dependent on the weather and how evil the tournament
committee was feeling about pin positions!

What was the biggest win (or loss for Ladbrokes!) by a punter on golf last year and on whom and at what odds?

There are hundreds of inspired bets each year, but the one that sticks in my mind was the internet customer who had £300 each way on David Toms at 100/1 just before the start of the US PGA. He walked away with £36,000 and probably hasn't stopped smiling since.

Can you bet on multi-sports bets, for instance nominating the winners of The Open, the Derby, the FA Cup final and World Snooker Championship?

You can bet on any combination of sports you like and the more events you combine in your bet, the more you'll win if the all come in. However, my advice would be to stick to what you know and try not to have too many accumulators on a multitude of sports. As bookies we love these bets. Need I say more!

The strangest bet I can recall was by Ray Woodcock, who scooped £194,400 in 1999, 10 years after staking £30 at Ladbrokes on a series of wagers in December 1989.

He nominated the following to have happened by the end of ’99: Cliff Richard to be knighted (4-1); EastEnders still going strong (5-1); Home And Away still to be going strong (8-1); rock group U2 staying together (3-1) and Britain to have a World Heavyweight Champion (5/1). Nice work if you can get it.

How to bet on golf
Sam Torrance - charity gambler.

Sam Torrance likes a bet, though obviously not on his own sport when he's playing. Who else likes a wager? sponsors Sam and we’ve had alot of fun offering tips for charity on our website (and so far raised about £5. 000). Quite a few pro golfers like a flutter, because, they claim, it whiles away the time when they're not on the course. But naturally, client confidentiality forbids me from naming them!

What kind of bets are you likely to take on the Ryder Cup and how much is likely to be spent on Ryder Cup betting?

Believe it or not, while the Ryder Cup is a huge focal point of interest for the golfing world, it’s not as popular for betting compared to the majors.

In a normal tournament you've got at least 150 players with numerous betting opportunities but the Ryder Cup has two teams of 12 players and only 28 matches.

Nevertheless, there will still be a lot of money changing hands, with the most popular bets being leading points scorer on each side and the exact final score. You can already back Tiger at 10/1 to win five matches at The Belfry this year and 3/1 to emerge unbeaten.

What's your view on on-course betting?

I've got nothing against it. I think European galleries, especially, are mature enough and love the game enough for potential profit from a bet not to ruin their behaviour.

In any case, it's very easy to place a bet by telephone
with a debit card or via a credit account and almost everyone has a mobile these days. So if someone who is attending a tournament wants to have a bet they will – but out of ear-shot of the players, please!

How is betting on golf handled in the US and the rest of Europe?

Betting is illegal in most States in the US, so there is very little of it on golf (officially, at least!) and we don't accept bets from anyone based in the USA. There are some local bookmakers in in a few countries throughout Europe

But an increasing number of people are now using the internet to bet with, because the choice and value is much wider than they've had in their own countries.

We now have over 250,000 registered customers in 170 countries around the world having launched our website less than two years ago. It shows the potential and we've only just scatched the surface of most countries outside the UK. Clearly the growing international interest in
golf is starting to be reflected in betting turnover.

Ladbrokes expects to take over £1 million on The Open this year on the internet alone and close to £3 million on the tournament overall, including shops and telephone betting.

Can you get odds on pro women's or men's amateur events?

We tend to offer bets on upto ten of the biggest LPGA events each year, but we don't normally bet on amateur tournaments. I'm a big fan of women's golf and I've actually got a photo of Se Ri Pak on my desk, playing out of the water on the 18th hole of the playoff for the US Womens Open a couple of years ago that she went on to win. Why? A little each way bet at 66/1!

Whom, in your opinion, is the tastiest price as an outsider for a major this year?

Bernhard Langer in the US Masters. He has a great tournament record (twice a winner in 1985 and 1993) and is in arguably the best form of his life. Also he’s based in Florida so will be ready early in the year.

Langer is currently 40/1 with Ladbrokes. You heard it here first. If he does win it will help to ease German sports fans' pain for their national team's certain failure in the World Cup this summer!

Good luck!

Who's your tips for the majors? Why not share them with us on the Forum.

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