Golf has been described as a good walk spoiled by golfers. They say it with a healthy dose of self-deprecation and irony, as golf is one of the most complex sports to master. Just swinging a golf club hoping for a straight shot on the golf course is the basis for all frustration caused by the game of golf. Yet, some men and women have mastered the golf swing to become professional golfers.

They make scads of cash for tournament wins, product endorsements, and commercials are all places they can make a living. But golf is a competitive sport, and there is little to separate one golfer from another talent-wise. The golf world has come up with a ranking system to sort out the skillful from the not-so-skillful, and sports bettors have taken notice.

Here at MyTopSportsbooks, we will take a deep dive into how golf ranks players, how golf betting odds work and how golf rankings help with golf betting—using a handicap system and a handicap index (your mobile golfing ability number). Your index number is based on the set of tees you play and how your past scores fared relative to the course’s difficulty according to the USGA handicap definition.

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If you are a scratch golfer, you don’t get any handicap strokes on your scorecard. A scratch player generally shoots even par or better, and plays his tee shots from the back markers that equate to longer hole yardage increasing the playing length of each hole

How are the Golf Rankings Calculated?

Golf Rankings; What are They?

Power rankings carry the day in team sports and can be applied to individual participant sports. Some rankings are just a top-to-bottom listing based on ability, while others take a deeper dive into the statistics that drive the sport. A casual review of power rankings for golf can set the futures market or the odds board for sportsbooks.

The advanced metric for golf rankings assigns a numerical value for each golfer, and then they can be sorted from top to bottom. Players can ascend the ranking list and fall down the list over a regular golf season.

What are the Top Golf Ranking Systems?

World Golf Rankings

Many of golf’s top players play on the PGA, governed by the United States Golf Association, while others play on the European tour like Rory McIlroy who plays both tours, so it is hard to get a handle on how to rank the best players in the world. The Official World Golf Rankings were created in 1986 to sort out the details to determine who are the best players in the world.

Player performance is measured over a two-year period, and players are awarded points for their play in sanctioned tournaments. Once the player has points, they are divided by the number of tournaments played, with the rolling average ranked against other players.

Not all golf tournaments are created equal, and some tournaments are weighted more heavily than others. Rankings are updated on a weekly basis, based on 104 weeks of play, so hot and cold trends are slow to identify.

FedExCup Standings

The FedExCup was created to declare a golf season champion through a playoff system. Golfers play in tournaments throughout the season and earn points; like the OWGR system, some tournaments are weighted more heavily by the USGA course rating, with more points available for those tournaments.

After every event, points are awarded, and the top 125 golfers qualify for a three-tournament playoff. As the tourneys play out, the field is cut and the last 30 golfers standing play in the final for all the marbles. Tiger Woods won the first FedEXCup back in 2007, and Rory McIlroy has won it twice in the last few years.

How Money Affects the Rankings

Golfers compete for cash prizes, and tournaments pay golfers who manage to survive a four-day tournament. Money leaders tend to have high rankings as their total says they have won tournaments or been close to the top in most events they enter.

It is a good barometer for players – the PGA season starts just after New Year and runs through fall – players who aren’t active in the early going have a chance to reach the top of the rankings, winning tournaments with big payouts.

How Golf Betting Odds Work

With every tour stop, online sportsbooks and oddsmakers will release the odds for golfers who can win the tourney. Prop bets, head-to-head matchups, top-five and top-ten finishes and other bets. You can even find a futures bet for the Masters with odds based on the current rankings. When oddsmakers release the odds board for a tournament, it says how they view a specific player’s ability to win the tournament.

As bets are placed, some golfers will rise as favorites, while others will fall; when handicapping golf, you are looking for discrepancies and a chance to exploit them. Not all sportsbook operators will have the same odds; you need to shop around for the value bet that will pay you based on the discrepancies you find.

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Important Stats that you Should Research

  • Cuts Made
  • Strokes Gained
  • Fairways in Regulation
  • Greens in Regulation
  • Distance
  • Accuracy
  • Up and Down

All these technical details have an impact on a golfer’s ranking, and they need to be consistent in all areas. Should they have a weak spot, it will drag them down the rankings. You can’t go low unless you hit on all the aforementioned cylinders.

The course rating system that determines the difficulty of a golf course can’t be ignored. Think about the relative difficulty of the US Open, USGA makes the difficulty of the course hard and slope rating on the greens, course slope rating on the fairways and the bunkers pose the biggest challenges for entrants.

The tournament makes many a professional a bogey golfer, and the bogey rating for the tournament is through the roof. A score of even sometimes doesn’t win the tourney because there are no scratch golfers in the field.

Do Golf Rankings Help With Betting?

The ranking can influence your golf handicapping decision-making. The power rankings you review can be a quick guide to a tournament field and futures bets for major tournaments, like the Player’s Championship. But remember, past performance is an excellent indicator of how a golfer might fare in the next tourney.

Are they playing well now? Have they played the course well that is the next tour stop? Some golfer’s games aren’t geared for specific course layouts, and recent successes or failures on the course can have an adverse mental effect on the golfer. When swinging a club, confidence is everything, and if confidence is waning, the golfer’s game will fade. Three other factors can affect your betting strategy – tee times, pairings and the weather.

Frank Lorenzo
Frank Lorenzo
MTS Co-Founder
Geoff Johnson
Geoff Johnson
MTS Co-Founder