The business of betting on golf

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick January 24, 2024 19:12

Golf might not have the same global profile as association football or rugby, but nonetheless golf is an enormously popular and important market when it comes to the betting operators. Golf is, of course, one of the world’s most popular sports, with around 450 million annual viewers in the various shows and tournaments. Betting companies have long kept a close eye on the sport and offered a variety of markets for betting on the golf, to their great profit and advantage. Today, we’re going to look at how the business of betting on golf works, so let’s get started.

Biggest golfing events

Firstly, let’s look at some of the biggest golfing events of the calendar year and how they are important to the bookmakers. There are generally considered four major tournaments in golf: the Masters, the Open, the PGA and the Players Championship. Each of these events is viewed by millions of people every year, depending on the particular round of the tournament.

As you might expect, the final round of each tournament is generally the one with the highest viewership, sometimes as high as eight times more than previous games in the tournament. In the Masters, for instance, the final round averaged a huge 12 million viewers—showing a 19% increase from previous years.

Most of the attention from the bookmakers is on these four major events, and driving promotions around such big events is in general how sports betting works. The bookmakers focus their efforts on bringing in betting for the events as a whole, but particularly on the final outcome of the last round of each tournament—since, again, this is typically watched by a lot more people than the earlier rounds.

Many golf viewers will also follow particular players, and so another part of the business for betting on golf is looking at each player individually. Markets can be offered on the performance of a player in a particular game, or across the whole tournament. It’s a multi-faceted business, then, and it’s taken many decades for the biggest bookmakers to get to grips fully with how to maximise profits while betting on golf.

What are the hard figures, then, for the golf betting?

The bookmakers

Firstly, let’s look at what sorts of margins the bookmakers generally expect to make on the golf betting. The average margin for the bookmakers in betting on golf, in general, is about 42%–which is a really huge figure. Overall, the estimated profits associated with betting on golf are between $4.5 and $5 billion USD, for the American market.

This represents a huge proportion of global annual betting revenue, given the relative popularity of golf. As mentioned, golf is certainly one of the most popular sports in the world, but to many people it pales in comparison to football or some other sports. While the NFL, for instance, is worth about $20 billion, golf still captures around 8% of the total handle in the U.S., at least. Of the roughly $89 billion in global sports betting revenue, around 59% of that comes from the American market, so clearly it is among the most important of all markets.

You can be sure that the overwhelming majority of this revenue comes from the biggest events and the finals of the annual tournaments. Again, this is why so much importance is placed in advertising and promoting the available offers for the big events and why sites like Top Betting Sites can exist. When you take the sport as a whole and all the professional events in the calendar year, golf is actually among the least bet-on sports in the world. Again, in the US market, it’s about 1% of all legal betting—around $150 million. Given that most of this revenue, though, comes from a handful of the biggest single events, golf has huge potential as one of the biggest betting markets in the future.

What is clear is that earnings show an upward trend and the amount of money bet on golf is rapidly surging. Options for betting markets are limited, currently, and typically you can only really bet on the winner of the event or the top 5, 10, or 20 places. Implemented properly, an expansion of markets could be huge for the sport and increase overall revenue in golf betting enormously.

Golf is clearly a vitally important market to the betting operators, then, and without it the annual revenue profiles of many of these operators would look very different. With viewership in the millions for the biggest games, there’s always going to be an important market for betting on the games that must be attended to. These events alone drive much of the increased, multi-billion dollar golf profits, but equally the smaller events and their closely following audiences are also really important to the bookies.

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick January 24, 2024 19:12
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