Rufus Peabody once hit a 999-1 long shot to win a golf tournament.
The professional sports bettor cashed his ticket when Ted Potter Jr. won the 2012 Greenbrier Classic on the third hole of a playoff.
“It was on an exchange, and I bet $20 to win $20,000,” said Peabody, of Las Vegas. “I made his true odds 750-1. But if it pays out 999-1, there’s value.
“Betting golf outrights, you lose on the majority of weeks. But the weeks that you win, hopefully, more than make up for it.”
Golf betting has grown in popularity since the PGA Tour returned two weeks ago. For a guide, we asked Peabody and other sharp bettors and oddsmakers to share some tips.
“The futures are fun. That’s where the glory is,” said Brady Kannon (@lasvegasgolfer), former Westgate SuperContest winner and co-host of VSiN’s “Long Shots” golf betting show. “But it’s very difficult to hit an outright winner.
“I believe the most responsible way to bet golf and to give oneself the best chance to profit is to use a three-tiered approach: Greatest amount of risk on the head-to-head matchups, a little less risk on the top 10 and top 20 markets, and the least amount of risk on the outright winner market.”
Peabody (@RufusPeabody) and Westgate sportsbook golf oddsmaker Jeff Sherman also recommend betting more on matchups than futures.
“Some weeks, I don’t even get involved in (betting) outrights,” Sherman said. “My recommendation to people, if you’re into playing the outrights, is to also be involved in the matchups.
“If there’s a guy you feel strongly about or strongly against, the matchups can at least cover the long shots. And you just have to beat one golfer instead of 150.”
Peabody noted that the book’s hold percentage, or winning percentage, for matchups is much lower than for futures.
“The theoretical hold for the house is 30 to 40 percent or higher in some cases for outrights, while betting into a matchup that’s -110 versus -110 is only 4.5 percent. It’s apples and oranges, in terms of bets,” he said. “But if you’re looking to have a good sweat from it, matchups are not always as exciting to watch. You can’t see every hole.
“It’s a lot more fun to bet on an outright golfer to win than it is to bet on a matchup. People are drawn to that lottery mentality, and nothing beats rooting for a guy in contention coming down the stretch on Sunday. But if you want to bet those, make sure you price shop.”
Form an opinion
“When it comes to giving advice to newer or beginning golf bettors, I always recommend recent form and course form as a bettor’s baselines for handicapping a futures market,” said Wes Reynolds (@WesReynolds1), co-host of “Long Shots.”
Spread out your bets
“You can’t necessarily ignore the top players,” Reynolds said. “But the best way to attack the odds board from a futures standpoint is to mix up the portfolio with some shorter or medium-sized prices and then even out the dollar amounts by betting less on longer shots.”
Bet at adjusted odds
“On Friday night, you’ll know who’s going to be in contention, and you can get some of these guys at bigger prices than they were before the tournament started who are only four or five shots back,” said Brian Blessing, host of Sportsbook Radio on KSHP-AM 1400. “Sometimes, too, on Thursday night you can get a stupid number.”
Shop for value
“Generally speaking, look for prices of guys you think are an overlay that have good current form,” Blessing said.
Said Peabody: “In terms of finding value betting outrights, there’s generally less value on bigger-name guys who have won a lot in the past. You tend to find more value on golfers who have yet to win. There are plenty of guys who have played very well but just haven’t gotten a win yet. Those guys tend to be overlooked.”
Mackenzie Hughes has one PGA Tour win but was overlooked before the Travelers Championship, where he shot 60 on Thursday to take the first-round lead. He went off at 300-1 at the Westgate, which took zero bets on him.
William Hill sportsbook director Nick Bogdanovich, who only plays long shots of 30-1 or more, said the two most important things in golf handicapping are current form and course form.
“The third thing is to be lucky,” he said. “You can hit a tree and the ball lands in the fairway or you can hit a tree and the ball goes out of bounds. There’s a fine line between winning and losing.”