Nothing says spring like Augusta National Country Club: the stunning magnolias, inexpensive pimento cheese sandwiches, perfectly groomed grass, Amen Corner, the green jacket. The list goes on.
Many are likely to invest a significant portion of their weekend watching the season’s first major championship, and laying a little money down can add to the excitement (but keep it reasonable, people).
Now, how exactly do you win money betting on The Masters? I have my theory.
While it’s fun to bet on a player to win the championship, it’s almost always a bad investment (unless you have a 15-year-old prodigy for a son). Nearly 100 players line up to play in The Masters, and getting 8-1 on Rory McIlroy or 65-1 on Jim Furyk is really just buying a lottery ticket. Even if a golfer is playing well coming into the tournament and puts together four solid rounds, there’s a good chance someone else is going to put together four better ones. In essence, betting on an individual doesn’t reward your solid, thorough research often enough.
I’ve noticed in recent years that, if you want to bet on a single player to win, make your bet on Saturday or Sunday morning.
Sure, a guy who started the week at 100-1 might be down to 25-1 come the weekend, but at that point you know your player is in contention as opposed sitting at home watching on TV where he has as good a chance as, well, you.
Such a strategy is especially applicable to Tiger Woods this year when so little is known about his form. Tiger is going to garner a lot of attention from the media, and so he should. But bettors should refrain for the time being. Tiger is not the same player that won 14 major titles (including five at Augusta). He hasn’t played at all recently and, when last seen, looked like an amateur; he also hasn’t won a major since 2008, and was last consistently competitive in majors in 2009. There will be juicy odds for those who can wipe the last five years from their memory. But there’s is simply no reason to get out your eraser at this point.
The better way to win money on golf, in my view, is the match-up bets that sportsbooks offer. Just like betting on one NFL team to beat another, you can bet on “Team McIlroy” to beat “Team Mickelson” (it just so happens that there are 98 other “teams” playing at the same time).
There is likely to be a handicap involved or juice, but you are simply wagering on which golfer will score better in a given round or for the tournament as a whole. This allows you to analyze individuals, bet on guys likely to do well, and bet against those who aren’t. (It is also more likely to reward your meticulous research, though it won’t pay nearly as well as picking the champion, of course.)
How do you determine which guys are primed to play well?
While there are many ways to handicap, the easiest two assessments are who has played well at the course before, and who is playing well recently.
While there are plenty of guys who have experienced success at Augusta, here are a few that have fared particularly well in recent years:
- Adam Scott: Scott is one of the top players in the world, won The Masters in 2013, and had finished among the top ten three straight years prior to finishing a still-respectable 14th last year.
- Jason Day: In only four chances at The Masters, the rapidly improving Jason Day has finished in the top three twice.
- Bubba Watson: Bubba has won The Masters twice in the last three years. No more need be said.
As for guys playing well right now, consider this group:
- Henrik Stenson: The Swede has finished among the top five in each of his last four tournaments in America including three since the start of March.
- Jordan Spieth: A top-ten player at the age of 21, Spieth has four top-ten finishes this year including a win last month in Florida.
- Jimmy Walker: Walker is the only player to win twice on tour so far this year; he leads the PGA Tour money list, and played well at Augusta in his first try last year.
Winning money betting on golf is difficult because most bets are losers. Don’t try to eagle every hole. Hone in on a few guys that history (recent or long-term) indicates will play well and stick to head-to-head wagering.
(Photo credit: pocketwiley (originally posted to Flickr as The Masters) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.)