For years, the U.S. sporting media viewed the vast gaming world as taboo. But times have changed. Golf, along with many other professional sports, has decided to embrace the betting party, a decision aided in part by a Supreme Court ruling in 2018 that lets states set their own sports betting regulations.
The PGA Tour and media companies alike are jumping at the opportunity to partner with sportsbooks like PointsBet and DraftKings, forming partnerships left and right to become the official betting operator in exchange for advertising their brand during coverage. This has led to betting odds and props making their way into golf telecasts. PGA Tour Live has started showing the odds of their featured groups before they tee off, and recently during the Payne’s Valley Cup, Golf Channel regularly updated the viewer on prop bets (bets such as, "Will Tiger Woods make a birdie on the 14th hole?") that could be placed on FanDuel in states where sports betting is legal.
It's safe to say this trend will only continue to ramp up moving forward as a way to provide additional engagement with fans.
If you're a sports-betting rookie looking for a way to add some rooting interest to your golf viewing on the weekend, you've got some options. There are two main types of golf betting action: daily fantasy and traditional sports gaming. Daily fantasy betting offers the best bang for your buck and is more accessible. Traditional sports betting, either in person or via a mobile app, is still only legal in a handful of states, and while illegal offshore betting on sites like Bovada is very popular, it has its pitfalls.
Getting started with daily fantasy golf
Over the past few years, FanDuel and DraftKings have taken the betting world by storm with daily fantasy sports (DFS). Playing DFS is a good place to start because both sites are legal in 40-plus states and they offer promotions to first-time users. Both sites have a variety of different formats and offer “Beginner” or “No Experienced Players” contests, meaning you don’t have to compete against the people whose full-time job is playing DFS and spend hours carefully crafting the perfect lineup each week. Plus, you can enter contests for as cheap as 5 cents and can find plenty of fun games for only a dollar or two.
DFS is offered for the PGA Tour and European Tour. Now, do you have to commit to all four rounds of a tournament? No. You can find daily-round contests, weekend contests, and even afternoon windows for certain tournaments.
While FanDuel and DraftKings are slightly different, the main premise of playing daily fantasy golf is the same. When you enter a contest, you are given a salary of $60,000 on FanDuel and $50,000 on DraftKings, with that cash you get to select 6 golfers to form your “team” for the week. Every golfer in the field is assigned a value based on the caliber of the player and their recent form. They receive points every hole based on what score they make (on DraftKings it's +3 for a birdie, -.5 for a bogey, etc.) and what place they finish in the tournament (+30 points for picking the eventual winner). So no, you can’t take DJ, JT, Rory, Rahm, Xander and Morikawa as your six. It’s usually a mix and match between a couple top tier players and then a few sleepers that are cheap and help fill out your lineup. But the sleepers can be the most exciting players to root for.
You can easily find lineup advice and the top sleepers with just a little bit of research on Google. There is no shortage of experts who dive deep into the stats and what type of player is likely to perform well based on the course that week. The strategy behind your picks will often be determined by what type of contest you are entering.
Daily fantasy golf: types of contests
FanDuel and DraftKings both have five or six different types of contests. My favorites are 50/50s and Tournaments. In a 50/50 contest, the top half of the field wins. For example, in a 100-person 50/50 that costs $5 to enter, you need to finish with a score in the top 50 to win a prize of $9. No matter whether you finish 1st or 50th, the prize is the same. This contest type is great for beginners because you don’t need a phenomenal lineup to win a little money.
Tournaments, on the other hand, offer the thrill of potentially winning big off a small wager if your lineup lights it up. Tournaments can have hundreds of thousands of contestants, but only around 20 percent of the lineups win, and the payout structure is staggered so the first-place finisher wins a large portion of the money, sometimes turning a single dollar into thousands. While possible, winning big is extraordinarily unlikely in tournaments. But we all can dream, right? In this format, taking risks with your picks is more encouraged because it differentiates your team from the other contestants.
Ever since sports betting was legalized in the United States back in 2018, it has become clearer that it will have an impact on how fans consume sports and in what numbers. As more states continue to legalize mobile wagering, expect it to continue to become more prevalent in sports coverage. So if you ultimately decide to get in on the action, have a little fun, do it responsibly of course, and hopefully you'll enjoy a few wins from time to time.