Golf Handicap Factors

Golf Betting Situations

The following are golf betting tips specifically looking at the players in the tournaments. In the next article, we will look more at the general betting situations, which arise time and time again, and then, we will look at golf trading techniques in Part Four. Some of these handicapping factors, which will lay the foundations, are fairly obvious, and others, which can help gain an edge, are more subtle. If nothing else, I hope the ideas, which are presented below, spark an idea of your own.

Recent Player Form

It is fitting that we should start with perhaps the most important and fundamental area of golf betting. We should be supporting any player, who is playing a confident game, striking the ball well, and are figuring in the finish. Good recent form, not only indicates that the player obviously is in good touch and playing well, it also indicates that the player is playing with a good deal of confidence, and this is important.

We do not want to be supporting a player who appears to have lost touch momentarily. He will play erratically, and as a result of the doubting, often will leave putts short. The European player, Lee Westwood, is a classic example. Undisputedly, he is a class player and on his day can and will give any player a run for his money. However, Westwood is a player who, when the chips are down and he is not playing well, may be relied upon to continue his poor form, more often than not. He really is a confidence player. In 2004 he recorded a very poor year. By comparison, David Duval was the world number one in 1999, but by the end of 2004, amazingly, he had slipped to a world ranking of 528!

Apart from avoiding players who display signs of playing with little or no confidence, we can make good money, by laying them on a betting exchange, or another option is to oppose the player in a match-bet, which we will discuss a little later.

There is little difference between the world’s top golfers, and if a player has a little more confidence on the day, then he will have a decided edge on the others. He will be banging the putts into the backs of the holes, while others will be trying to coax them in, ever so tentatively.

Past Tournament Form

Another of the standard fundamental aspects of golf handicapping is to look closely at the past player form for a particular tournament. Many players consistently perform well in the same tournament year after year. There could be many reasons why this is the case. However, from a betting viewpoint, it is suffice to know, that a player does play well in this or that particular tournament, without knowing the reasons. Sometimes, there may not be an intelligent reason why the player may play well. However, we cannot discount the fact that some players actually do play well in some particular tournaments, whatever the reason may be.

Possibly these players are playing on their home courses, living only a stone’s throw from the course; possibly the course suits the player’s style of play; or possibly the player simply is confident in the event, because of a forward showing in previous years at the course.

Sometimes the reason is not clear. However, the main factor is to discover that they do play well on their respective courses. Good form in the event, and good recent form, are the two most fundamental and obvious form factors.

Back the Proven Players

Seek players who have proven abilities to win on particular tours, that is, the European or USPGA tours, in question. If a player has been playing one of the tours for five to ten years and has not broken through for a win, you can count on those players to do more of the same.

Basically, one of the most fundamental of all punting principles is to discover past occurrences, and to forecast more of the same for the future. No matter how close they may get to winning, the fact of the matter is that they do not win. That is the big difference! It is very easy to be sucked into a bet, if a player has been placing himself into contention in recent tournaments. This type of player tends to have a bad habit of decimating your betting bank! Of course, it depends on the price on offer. However, this is something that I personally and carefully note. Class and proven ability to win, counts for more, than a lot of punters may believe.

Changes in Swing, Equipment or Caddy

The smallest changes to a golfer, his swing, equipment, caddy or even the ball that he uses can make a dramatic difference in the player’s form, whether that be good or bad form. As we have mentioned before, there really is very little between competitors at this level. Any one of these changes may have either a positive or negative effect, depending on the circumstances, and the player involved. However, I for one would be very wary of supporting a player after a recent change. In saying that, I would not be game to lay the player, preferring to wait until the player in question has played a small number of tournaments, after which it would become more obvious, whether the change is a positive or negative one.

We find that some players will change their equipment to suit the course of an upcoming major. This is exactly what Phil Mickelson did, before he won his first major in 2004, the US Masters. Some of the top players will play below their standards, in the lead up events, as they come to grips with new equipment as they prepare for a major tournament.

Players with Personal or Injury Concerns

This area could be a bit of a trap, or sometimes, an opportunity, depending on which way we look at the problem. When news slips out about a player experiencing personal problems or injuries, for example, splitting with his wife (as per Colin Montgomerie in 2004), we should be extremely careful not act impetuously by laying the player on a betting exchange. Common sense might suggest this to be the best course of action. However, past similar situations have proven to be quite different! An example of this is Stuart Appleby when defending his title in the Mercedes Championship in 2005. The week before the tournament he was struggling to work let alone practice due to a leg injury. He flew into Hawaii with only a day and a half to spare but not only that, his wife Ashlea was due to give birth the following week. Plenty on his mind but yet he came out and successfully defended his title

Often, it will appear that due to any number of reasons, the player might seem to be at a disadvantage, especially considering the importance player mindset and player psychology have in golf. However, often you will find that in spite of all this, the player will go out and shoot a low score! This puzzled me for some time, and cost me a good deal of money, before I realised that players with concerns are generally more relaxed initially, as strange as that may sound. Their minds are quite often elsewhere. For example, they may be thinking more about their throbbing thumb or tooth ache, rather than their game, and because of these relaxed attitudes, they play exceedingly well! Many a player in a post round interview will be heard talking about the above phenomena, I suppose it could be called.

In short, be careful in these situations! If you believe the betting market has over-reacted to the news, and the price has blown harder then an Irish gale, then chances are that you could have a good bet on your hands. However, we still are not too sure how the individual player will react to the personal problems or injury concerns. This becomes an intelligent ‘gamble’ due to the inflated odds. I have learnt my lesson a couple of times now, laying such players. After reading this, I hope you don’t do the same!

Player Tournament Schedules

Many professional players now have their very own websites. If a player does have a website, you will be able to find his website address on both the PGA Tour and the European Tour websites.

It is interesting to note how each player will plan his year. Throughout the year, always ask yourself why players are playing in certain tournaments. Although the majority of the time, there is nothing in the decision, thinking this way can often provide a good lead into the individual player’s thinking. Many players will play solely on either the European or USPGA Tours. However, others will travel between the tours spending a lot of time on each throughout the year.

For example, if a player travels to the other side of the world to play a relatively low prize money tournament, in which he has not played before, and not only that, but he may be giving up another tournament, in which he has played well in the past, we would have to speculate why this would be. If there is more or less prize money, does the player need to play the event to qualify on a tour? (Each player has to play a certain number of tournaments each year). If the player has played in the event before, is the player coming across to give himself a warm-up to a larger tournament the following week? A little investigative work can help no end in delving into the thought process of a professional golfer.

Players Missing Cut Deliberately

This one may be said to be a little controversial. However, I believe I have seen this occur on a number of occasions now and it is something to watch out for. A top player plays in an event, for example, on the European tour, and the next week, he has a large tournament in America.

Now, I am not suggesting that from day one, the player intends to perform poorly. However, if the player does happen to play a poor first round, we need to put ourselves in his shoes. He can try to make the cut, even at that early stage in the tournament, he may believe that he is too far off the pace to get back into serious contention. Possibly an option, is to play an average game, miss the cut, pack his bags, head to the venue of the larger tournament, and have an extra two days to get to know the course. I am not going to name any names as an example, but this thinking has proven profitable for me in the past. Perhaps it is just luck? However, if a punter speculated, that a player ensures he misses the cut, after a poor first round, the punter could make good money by opposing the player in an 18 hole match bet, as the price of the player to win the tournament would, more than likely, be too long to lay.

Suit the Conditions to the Player

As a very general rule, the European based players perform betting in blustery or rain affected tournaments then their American counterparts. If we find a European based player, playing in America in such conditions, he requires a little extra consideration. The European links type courses, coupled with the typical weather conditions of Europe, result in the European players becoming very adept at playing in poor conditions. Elliott’s Golf Form provides an indication of which players play especially well in such conditions, and this information can be very handy to know.

Course Compatibility

Following on from the last point, give careful consideration to course compatibility. Generally, the European players play the links type courses well, and as a very general observation, the US players play the heavy, tree-lined courses well. Take note of the type of course, because this is where it helps to look at player and course statistics to form an opinion of whether a player will be suited to the course, or not.

Player Statistics

When looking at statistics, be careful. Statistics can and do lie! A book could be written on player/course statistics, and how to use such statistics in golf betting. As I don’t believe anyone would want to read a book on player statistics, I will only mention some general pointers. I would urge you to take the time to think hard about each statistic, and how it may be applied to the tournament and the player in question. There are around one hundred different statistics, which one may pore over, in an attempt to provide an edge. However, just because there are around one hundred statistics available, that does not mean, that we have to look at them all; far from it. It will, more than likely, simply confuse the issue by looking at too many. There are many more commonsense type pointers, which should be focused upon, primarily helping to handicap a sporting event.

An example of how statistics may be confusing, and could lead a punter up the wrong path is as follows: assume we are studying a tournament, which is to be played on a long course with four par fives, and a par of 73. Commonsense would suggest that we should be looking for a player who has a good long game. Interestingly, this is not necessarily the case. If the par fives can not be reached in two (bunker/water placement for example), then chances are, that the long hitters may not be advantaged at all! In this case, it does not really matter if a player is a long hitter, as everyone will be laying up for a shortish iron third shot to the green. In this case, I would be looking more at the players who have a good iron game, which may see them setting up putts for birdies.

As another example, one of the main punting traps is looking at a tournament that historically, has shown to favour players who are good on the green. The first thought, naturally, is to look at players with low putts per round figures. Herein lies the problem. Putts per round is not a truly accurate measure of how good a putter, a player is. If a player has poor’Greens In Regulation’ statistics, and a low putts per round, this is telling us that the player doesn’t hit the green in regulation, but is good around the greens.

Therefore, as stated above, the real key is to simply have a clear head, when looking at the statistics of the players. Often, the players’ indicators, which are suited to the course can subtly shine through in the form of the player statistics.

Both the European tour website and the PGA Tour website have excellent statistics sections for you to browse through.

Course Familiarity

Take note of players who are playing in their home states, or on their home courses. As in a vast majority of sports, the home ground advantage provides a significant advantage. The player would know the course intimately, and have great course management knowing the best way to play each hole. Also, they generally will be more confident, once more increasing their chances of good results.

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