With gaming restrictions being relaxed across the United States the PGA Tour will allow on-course betting at their tournaments from next year in a bid to tap into new markets.
“It’s all about engagement. When done right, it gives fans the opportunity to engage with your sport over a longer period of time and have more interest in what’s happening across the entire player field,” said commissioner Jay Monahan.
“It’s legalised in a lot of international markets and we’ve put the right systems in place, both in terms of an integrity programme and monitoring activity. Once you start to participate, you can eliminate negative bets. We’ve done a ton of work to make certain that that’s the position we’re in.
“I think when we come forward, you’ll see that we’ve taken significant steps to address that. We’re going to participate in a thoughtful way.”
The PGA Tour have partnered with London-based IMG Arena, specialists in the sports and betting industry and who signed its own agreement with the European Tour in February, though Monahan would not be drawn on what products might be unveiled.
The @BMWPGA underway tomorrow from Wentworth.
IMG ARENA will be on course throughout the tournament as we continue to test our new golf product ahead of its 2020 launch.
— IMG_ARENA (@IMGArena) September 18, 2019
On-course betting: How it works
So what does all this mean in terms of what the punters will and won’t be be allowed to bet on at a tournament?
– It is unlikely that you will be able to bet on a golfer recording a bogey or anything else considered to be ‘negative’.
– It might also prevent head-to-head betting if they are playing in twoballs given the ease in which that could be taken advantage of so it would probably be threeballs only. But rather than the usual round betting there would be the opportunity to bet on the lowest score on each hole.
– Likewise, should a player be playing badly and heading for a missed cut, then it might be harder to bet on him given the lack of anything to play for.
– Take it on another level and you might be able to bet on a possible birdie or eagle. Again, given the avoidance of anything negative, bogey betting would seem unlikely.
– Par-3 betting is an obvious one with the opportunity to bet on nearest the pin as they come through. As betting expert Josh Culp says: “Kind of like they already do all day at the WM Phoenix Open… but in an app form.”
– There is talk that they will have marquee groups and you’ll be able to see where they are after their tee on a par 4 and then be able to bet on who wins the hole from there. Tennis offers point-by-point betting which is hugely popular, the thinking is that this would do the same for golf.
According to golf writer Matt Cooper, who has watched the system in action at this year’s British Masters, the chance of a coup is there but they are well aware of these and other difficulties and have taken steps to pre-empt them.
“The fact that there is a team of operatives out there is one potential problem,” he explains, “but they have no access to the internet, only an intranet.
“Another thing that could also offer potential is following the groups intently. Often they might show a player is in the trees, but not if they have a terrible lie or no swing. But you’d need a big team to overwhelm the official team’s info.”
Legalised sports betting can now take place in 13 US states and that number might double by the end of 2020. Expect the European Tour to follow suit.
You can see our latest golf betting tips here.