USA Online Golf Betting Guide

USA FriendlyBack in the 15th century, those Scottish were sure doing something right to invent the game of golf. In around 1457, the game of golf was sweeping Scotland but was banned by James II, who considered it a distraction to archery. In 1502, James IV lifted the ban, became a golfer himself, and the sport started to spread across Scotland and the rest of Europe. While many sports have changed a tremendous deal since their inception, golf is still basically the same game. The equipment is a lot better today, and the rules and strokes and such have changed. But when it comes to using a stick to hit a ball across a field and into a hole, today's golf remains pretty much how it was at the start.

To be such a tamed sport, you might not realize that golf is really polarizing. Most people either really enjoy golf, watching it and playing it, or they cannot be bothered to even watch it and do not really care for it. Where golf manages to do the best in terms of convincing people of its prowess as a sport is in the betting realm. There's a huge following surrounding golf betting, and many of these people don't like golf at all. They just appreciate that it's an easy sport on which to gamble.

USA Sportsbook Sites has no desire to reduce golf to a mere betting activity. We like and appreciate the game, understanding the skill it takes to play, both mentally and physically, and the many nuances of the game. But we also respect the fact that it's a big deal in the betting world, and as such we have created this user's guide for golf betting. Before we can get into the gist of the golfing betting structure, however, it's important to first cover some basic information regarding legal online sports betting in the United States.


The PGA has announced that they will resume operations on June 8-14th for the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, TX., but the event will be played without fans. There has been no official announcement to when the Masters Tournament will be rescheduled. 

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Is Betting on Golf Legal in the USA?

LegalitiesOne unfortunate side effect of the Internet is that there are at times perhaps too many sources of information, and this information can be a bit cloudy. Instead of a site just flatly telling you that sports betting is actually legal, which it is, many sites beat around the bush and fill up pages with nonsensical click-bait. Gambling is legal in the United States; that's the message we want to convey to you without any run-around and without any filler. If you find a sportsbook online that allows you to join, then there are no laws whatever on the books, on either the state or federal level, that prohibit you from gambling on that sportsbook. (Outside of Washington State, where they do have laws against online gambling. All other 49 states allow it, however.)

Is this a little confusing to you? Don't worry about that; few people actually understand how to navigate this field. They know that gambling is illegal, so they think that means "gambling" in total is illegal. But the illegal side of gambling in the USA is all about those websites that open up and offer you gambling options. For instance, if a site opened up in South Carolina and started offering golf betting options, this would be illegal. But if you were to gamble on the site, you would not be breaking any laws. Understand that they are two different things entirely. Gambling is not illegal at all; creating a gambling business is what's considered to be illegal. And the reason it's illegal, on top of state laws, are because of three big federal regulations against gambling as a business.

Federal Regulations To Keep in Mind For U.S. Players

Federal Wire Act

The first federal act was the Federal Wire Act, passed back in 1961. In essence, this act was passed so that the federal government had some sort of recourse to deal with interstate gambling. For instance, if someone who lived in Oregon phoned in a bet to a California bookie, both states' hands were effectively tied on trying to charge anyone here. So, enter the huge federal apparatus making it illegal for anyone, business or person, to accept money for gambling over a wired transmission, which today has been extended to include the Internet. Although passed in '61, this act is just as potent today as it's ever been.


The most recent act on the books, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 was signed into law by George W. Bush and basically caused an extinction level event in the American gambling scene. While a 2011 DOJ ruling has three states back in the business of online gambling in limited fashion (New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada), most states still live in fear of what the feds will do to them if they break the UIGEA. Any website that's launched in America makes the person a criminal and the federal government will spare no expense making an example out of this person, company, group, whatever. People tried to start a sports-betting ring in California, and over 7 of them are on their way to federal prison as a result.


Known colloquially as the Bradley Act, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 was said to be a way to protect athletes. However, what it has done is kept 45 of 50 American states from allowing legalized gambling to their citizens. Four states were initially exempt from the laws due to their state-based sports lotteries: Montana, Oregon, Delaware, and Colorado. And after some finagling, Nevada was cleared to allow sports betting. But other states are beholden to this act, and even the DOJ didn't relent in the area of sports betting. The feds still get to control gambling on this level, and to date there's not much to be done about it apart from gamblers seeking offshore sites with which to bet.

Our laws section provides a closer look into each of these laws and their impact on sports betting in the United States.

The User's Guide to Golf Betting For Americans

Being a network that deals primarily with the legality of sports, we could easily write an entire series just about American gambling laws and the benefits of going with an offshore site. But for the purposes of this literature, we're all about helping you figure out how to bet on golf. And not only to make your wagers, of course, but also to win. The more successful you are when betting golf at your sportsbook, the better it bodes for us as a gambling resource site. So, in this guide, we're dealing with two main areas of focus. The first deals with the types of bets you can make on golf via a high-end sportsbook, and the second will deal with giving you tips and tricks you can use to put yourself in a better position to win. So, let's get started and figure out the types of golf lines on which you can bet.

Lines/Odds In Golf


The first and most popular sort of golf betting line is the moneyline. The good thing here about this line is that it's the same for every sport. Let's say you're about to place a bet on the Masters' tournament but want to figure out who's favored and which sort of bet will pay you the most money. You notice that Jordan Spieth has a line of -225, while Tiger Woods, who's really been slumping lately, has a line of +250. The player with the negative total will always be considered a favorite. To put it in plain math, you would have to bet $225 to win $100 when betting on a favorite like Spieth, whereas betting $100 on Woods would earn you $225. This is because one golfer is a big underdog and isn't expected to win, while the other is a favorite and it's assumed he has the best shot to win. While this is the easiest bet to understand, however, it might not always be in your best interest to make. We'll discuss your betting options in the tips section below.

Top Three Finishers Line

One very cool aspect of betting on golfers is that, on most sportsbooks, you're going to find a bet that's very similar to a "show" bet in horse racing. That is to say, you can bet on a golfer to finish in the top three. So let's say that you're not crazy about risking so much money on Spieth on the moneyline just to win $100. Well, you could go for a bet on Spieth to finish in the top three. While this isn't paying out any better than the moneyline per se, it's a far lest risky bet because he doesn't have to win but only need finish in the top three. This sort of bet can really pay off well if you can find an underdog who's surging up the ranks. It's very common in golf for players who are huge underdogs (like +350, for instance) to surge up the charts. They might not come through and pull out the win, but they can get a top three finish and help you earn a nice payday.

Head-to-Head Line

The third most popular sort of golf bet has to do with the structure of golf. When players tee off, they're paired up with another golfer to go through the 18 holes. The sportsbook recognizes this and will allow you to bet on a head-to-head match-up, with each player having a moneyline. The unique aspect of this bet is that the golfer you pick doesn't have to win the entire tournament; he or she only has to do better than the golfer with whom they're paired. So let's say that you have a pairing of a golfer like Steve Stricker with Jordan Spieth. Spieth, as most people know, is a big-time golfer who's been winning majors recently, whereas Stricker is one of those players who always finishes with the field. Jordan's line is -220, whereas Stricker's is +150. Now, while you might be risking more money to win here, the odds are greatly in your favor that Spieth will come through and beat Stricker in their head-to-head match-up, so winning less money is certainly better than losing your money by hoping for an underdog to come through.

You can also find live betting and prop betting on many sportsbooks. Live bets allow you to place your wagers in real time. So let's say that Tiger is on the comeback trail in one of his latest tournaments, but you picked another golfer. You can leverage here by placing some money on him to win his round match-up. Or you can also find potential props that allow you to bet on aspects of the game like how many birdies a player makes, how many times someone makes par, which player will hit the longest drive, etc. These sorts of bets should be available at any high-end sportsbook.

Your Golfing Options In The United States

One of the best aspects about betting on golf via a high-end sportsbook is that you'll almost always have something on which to bet. There is a lot of golf that's played around the world. Of course, for Americans, they're most familiar with the PGA and the tour events like the Masters, the US Open, the Open Championships, and the PGA championship. But even within the PGA there are dozens of other tour events on which you can bet. And then you get into other sorts of leagues and tournaments. Women's golf is huge around the globe, and also big on sportsbooks. The ladies play a PGA all their own and have plenty of tour options. And for golfers in their late 40s and onward, they have the senior tour, where you can find some great golf and some really stiff competition. Then there's leagues like the PGA European Tour, the Japan Golf Tour, the PGA Australia, and even a South African league with the Sunshine Tour. All of these options should be available for you on the right sportsbook.

5 Basic Betting Tips To Get You Started On The Winning Track

There's a reason that the vast majority of sports betters aren't simply retiring and living the rest of their days on exotic beaches drinking sugary beverages. Sports betting is very hard, and it's exceedingly difficult to consistently win. You can do everything correctly and the quarterback of your team ends up injured, or a point guard in basketball just has an off night. And while those things happen in every sport, they happen exponentially more in golf. Being a game that's half mental, something like a camera shutter in the distance, a loud crowd, or even storm clouds on the horizon can throw a golfer off of his or her game completely, and this ends up costing you money. So there's a whole lot more that goes into betting than simply knowing about the betting lines.

Throughout this section of our guide, what we call the meat of the animal, we're going to help you get a better handle on winning wagers by explaining to you some basic tips you should be using when just starting out as a sports gambler. These tips are not guaranteed to help you win, but they can help you make much better decisions and will thus put you in a better position to win more money.

1: Start with the Right Website (Sportsbook)

This initial tip may seem a bit trite to you, but don't get things twisted here. The sportsbook on which you choose to bet will make a world of difference to the outcome. The best websites out there that offer sports betting are going to offer a broad range of golf options. For instance, not only will you be able to find the three most common lines we discussed above, but you're also going to be able to find more props options, more live options, and even better, more realistic odds that adjust according to the latest information. Another bonus you're going to get with a top-flight sportsbook is that you will get free bonus money with which to bet. When you deposit $100, often is the case that you'll get another $100 for free delivered to you in increments. These sorts of benefits are only going to be available to you when you choose the best sportsbook available. To help with this, a good place to start would be our list of the best USA online sportsbooks or our reviews section. We don't expect you to be able to research these sites thoroughly, so we do the work for you and ensure that the sites in question match a wide range of criteria we have in place. If the site is worthy of your business, we'll suggest it to you. This is the first tip to use to win money.

2: Try an Easier Betting Structure to Ease Into Betting

While those proposition bets might seem cool, you don't want to jump into betting structures like these until you're familiar with how the betting works, and until you're familiar enough with golf betting that you start to win money. The same goes with live betting. While these are great options to help you leverage, which we'll discuss in detail below, you don't want to jump right in to live betting instantly. Start out with head-to-head bets. They're the easiest to grasp. This way, you can simply pick the best golfers and they don't even have to win the tournaments. All they have to do is beat the person with whom they're paired. This is far and away the easiest type of bet to win. The only downside here is that you typically don't win as much; e.g. you'll bet $50 and maybe only win $25. However, that's a far sight better than betting $50 on the underdog and turning around and losing it when the long shot doesn't pan out. And more often than not, the long shot isn't going to pan out; favorites are going to win about ¾ of the time. That's why they're favorites, and that's why they typically pay less. To start out, just pick some favorites in a head-to-head until which time you get into the swing of things and begin to understand the odds and betting lines better.

3: Try to Stick with Popular Golfers

One of the best ways you can bet is to go with golfers who are actually popular and who are winning. That isn't to say that a come-from-nowhere golfer isn't going to suddenly emerge and win the tournament. This type of thing happens more often than you may think. But how can you ever predict that? If there's a golfer named Johnny Johnson who ends up winning three majors in 2017, the fact is that you'll find almost zero information on him in 2016, when he wasn't winning anything and was barely making the cut. Golfers who are popular are better picks because they're easier to research. When you want to know about Jordan Spieth's chances to win a tournament or beat an opponent, there are multiple entire pages dedicated to this sort of thing, giving you odds and background information and statistics particular to how Spieth does in situations X, Y and Z. This isn't the case with golfers who aren't popular and who don't win. Google, Bing, or even jumping in the way-back machine and using Ask, you're not going to find this sort of detailed information on golfers who don't win, so sticking with the top names just puts you in a better position to make an informed decision. It's not front-running; it's simply betting with the information you have available.

4: Get There Early!

If the early bird really does get the worm in life, that's perhaps truer nowhere else than a sportsbook. Let's say that the Masters starts on Sunday, and you check out a head-to-head line on Wednesday and see that Spieth is paired against some unknown Johnson, and he's -200. Now, if you wait until Saturday evening to bet, you might find that the line jumps to -375, and it adjusts a lot in that direction in order to entice more bets for Johnson, whose line has also moved from +175 to +300. If you get to a book early on, as soon as the lines break, you're going to get much better odds. This is true in all sports. In college football, for instance, Alabama opened up against LSU in their 1-2 match-up as big favorites, but everybody betting LSU to cover caused the line to jump in the other direction. This will always be the case, and it's always going to affect how you bet on golf. Make sure that you're getting there early. Once you bet on the line, you're locked on the line. The line can shift and it won't affect the odds on which you initially bet. So you can catch much better odds oftentimes by betting right out of the gate as soon as the lines are released, or not long after. Don't wait until they're about to play because the odds will have adjusted by then.

5: Never Leverage on Similar Structures

Okay, so now for leveraging. Leveraging your bets is a great way to minimize your potential losses and maximize potential rewards. So, let's say that you bet on Spieth in that line from above, but for some reason he's having a bad day. Maybe he has a pulled muscle or some mental tick, but Johnson is starting to win by a few strokes. So, you want to go bet on another aspect of the game where you're more likely to win so that you can still profit. The area you should not bet on is the same area on which you already bet. For instance, don't find a live line where you can simply bet on Johnson instead of Spieth. One, it's not going to pay you well at all. Two, if Spieth comes back you still end up in the hole. Instead, go with a bet from outside of this area. Look at live bets and make a bet on a different head-to-head pairing, not the same one you have now, just reversed. Look at something like a total round bet, whereby you pick a player to win the total round. These are risky and require research, but if you're going to leverage you shouldn't do so on the similar or the same betting lines. You're getting in too deep that way.

Compared to many other sports, it's pretty easy to figure out golf betting. This is because of the head-to-head line and a popular line like the moneyline. While and golf does have some complex betting structures, it doesn't have nearly as many as what you'll find in some other sports. So USA golf betting enthusiasts should be able to easily transition into the genre. We hope that these tips have helped you figure out how to place winning wagers on the sport, and we're certainly rooting for you to win big at your sportsbook!