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Three Things I’ve Learned from Five Weeks of Betting PGA

Bryson DeChambeau hits a shot on the seventeenth tee box during the final round of the 3M Open.

Betting on golf is so easy! Until it isn’t. We’ve now had six-straight weeks of PGA action. After using week one as an observational study guide, I had four-straight weeks of profit betting on options like Top 20, Top 10, and individual round head-to-head matchups.

Why I started betting on PGA: I’m not going to get into Korean Baseball, exhibition tennis matches, or NASCAR. I’ve been playing golf nearly my entire life, but betting on it was just something I had never done. Until now. And to be honest, after four weeks, I was kind of getting a hot head. Prior to the Memorial tournament, I had told someone, “it feels too easy.”

Well, there’s nothing like a big slap of mud to the face to bring you back down to earth. I didn’t do too bad, actually but it was my first losing weekend of betting PGA. The course played tough, the weather conditions were harsh, and the greens were damn near impossible. I mean, the course made players like Phil Mickelson do some whacky things like putt from 78 yards out and take a full swing at 34 feet.

75.9 was the scoring average on the final day of competition and this week there were only two rounds in the 60’s on Saturday. Last week there were 18. Still, though, this made betting tough. So, from five weeks of betting on the PGA, this week at The Memorial included, here’s what I have learned about betting on golf.

Using Stats

Like with any other sport, stats only tell one part of the story. You have to know how to use those stats to the specific course. For example, in looking at the course pre-tournament for The Workday Charity Open last week, I noticed a load of bunkers lining the fairway or surrounding the greens. Naturally, I included sand saves into my analysis. However, after the first round, I quickly learned that stat was nearly irrelevant.

This week, since the players were competing at the same course, I read that some of the changes made were faster greens, different pin placements, and thicker rough. For this week, I added Birdie or Better from the Rough, which I also found to be nearly irrelevant. Jon Rahm for example, is 155th from the rough and he won. Webb Simpson is 35th and missed the CUT.

In football, you can pretty much stick to the same set of data points because variables don’t change like they do in golf. This week, the course was the same but three sets of variables differed from last week’s tournament. As a result, I think this week two data points like Strokes Gained on the Approach and Ball Striking weighed more heavily than anything else.

In Round 4, I took Carlos Ortiz in a head-to-head matchup against Bubba Watson. Ortiz appeared to be improving each round and through three rounds on the back nine, was avoiding trouble spots, whereas Watson appeared to be the more erratic player. However, the stats showed that Ortiz had a minus differential in nearly all Strokes Gained data points and Watson ahead by a margin. This was a bad play on my part and I should have let the data points do the talking instead of just putting more weight into scores.

If you want to track how the players are performing during each round, the site I use to is RickRunGood.

Course History/Experience

Many will argue that matchup history is perhaps not as important in college football because of the turnover in coaches and players. I don’t agree with this as I do believe matchup history is another piece of the puzzle. In golf, matchup history is not a thing but course history and experience is. Each week, the very first thing I have been doing is looking at which players have placed in the Top 20 at the same course/tournament and how well they’ve performed at similar courses. If the event is at a Pete Dye-designed course, I want to know how they’ve faired at other Pete Dye courses.

This week, I kind of faltered away from that. I pretty much went with stats first rather than course experience. I chose Daniel Berger to finish in the Top 20. Berger did not play the Workday Charity Open and the last time he played at Muirfield Village Golf Course was 2016 and 2015, where he finished 67th and CUT, respectively. I did the same thing with Webb Simpson. He also did not play last weekend and the last time he stepped foot at Muirfield was in 2017, where he also finished 67th and missed the CUT three out of the seven times he’s played the Memorial.

Every course is different. Some are easier than others, as you can tell from the RBC Heritage tournament where Simpson won the event with a -22-total score. Others are much tougher. This week’s winning score at the Memorial was -9.

Course experience is definitely not end all be all. Rahm for example played at the Memorial just once prior to this week and that was in 2017. He was CUT. However, he did at least, play at last week’s Workday Charity Open and finished 27th, giving him an idea of what shape the course was in and what he needed to work on to prepare for this week’s event.

The fact that neither Berger or Simpson played last week should have perhaps been enough for me to keep off them as plays for this week.

Discipline

This isn’t something I learned from this week but rather was reminded of. As mentioned, the course was playing really tough this week, just ask Bryson DeChambeau.

I actually had a few DM conversations on Twitter saying that I was unlikely to play Round 3 and then Round 4. Yet, I still placed some wagers. I specifically said, ‘there’s no consistency from players due to the conditions and course layout.’ It’s hard enough to bet as it is, it’s even tougher to make an educated wager when the variables are even tougher to break down. A buddy of mine said, “look at the scores. These are coin flips. Don’t bet on coin flips.”

Perhaps other bettors did well this weekend but I couldn’t get a solid grasp, which was a big siren alarm going off. It’s okay to hold on and wait for better spots. Say it out loud: IT’S OKAY TO HOLD OUT AND WAIT FOR BETTER SPOTS.

I’m glad this weekend happened. It gave me some things to look out for next time and reminded me to keep away if needed. I’ll never, ever, ever, think again that anything is easy. That’s a sure way to a losing ticket.