Fore!! The PGA Swings Aggressively Towards Sports Wagering

The PGA is embracing gambling and of all of the pro and college sports, golf may be the best suited for live wagering and prop betting.

Of all competitive sports, surprisingly golf may be taking the lead, wanting bettor’s interest

While wrapping up their coverage of the NBA playoffs, it’s been interesting noticing TNT and ESPN spending so much time discussing "the numbers". And no, we’re not talking about statistics or scoring averages. It’s the increasing amount of time covering point spreads, over/under and proposition wagering talk that wouldn’t have even been allowed on the broadcast a year or two ago.

Maybe not that surprising, considering the NBA’s commissioner Adam Silver, was the first major league official to truly endorse legalized wagering for the U.S. and to repeal PASPA (the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act). Silver has long understood that wagering talk increases television ratings and helps keep the audience engaged despite any potential basketball game’s outcome.

More surprising, is how the PGA and golf have increasingly jumped into the limelight potentially beyond the U.S. team sports embracing wagering in 2019.  Perhaps they recognized stodgy golf needed a boost or thought the cellphone addicted younger generation might connect through betting to increase overall awareness.  Without dispute, the PGA has entered some interesting connections lately to affirm they are on course.

For Your Information

One of the initiatives is a new and improved version of the ShotLink Plus data system. The platform collects and disseminates scores and statistical data on every shot in real time, greatly enhancing the in-game betting experience. Because of these enhances, sports bettors can make multiple wagers on prop bets during golfing rounds, offering more gambling options.

Shotlink data for golf bettingShotLink allows a fan to be well-informed about how a player plays on a certain golf course, how a player plays in certain tournaments, how a player plays in certain conditions.

In conjunction with their introduction they’ve announced, "a new integrity and monitoring program have been built into the internal structure of the PGA over the past couple of years in order to try and prevent match-fixing." This is almost a moot endeavor, as golf has never seen a level of tampering internationally equivalent to tennis and ironically the NBA.

Team Play vs. Single Players

This brings up a very interesting point involving the very gray word of "integrity" and how the four U.S. sports leagues are using it as a threatening tax on sportsbooks to insure honesty within their system and among their players.

In comparison, it might be assumed that trusting ONE individual in a competition sports (ex: golf or tennis) might be more worrisome and potentially easier to manipulate cheating compared to a team sport (ex: basketball or football). Also, although there are referees in both golf and tennis, a key call at any juncture would have much less of an effect.  Therefore, the play and “integrity” of one tennis player or golfer could be much more important when wagering is involved. 

PGA golf bettingImagine, heaven forbid, Tiger Woods throwing the upcoming U.S. Open at Pebble Beach in the final round with a two-shot lead. Or even much less noticeable, a PGA pro certain not to make the cut on Friday shanks an 18th hole tee shot to collect a $5,000 prop bet. That must be a lot easier than coordinating a hoops points shave with your teammates. 

The point here being it’s great that the PGA has warmly embraced sports wagering with new applications for golf. No more will bettors have to wait four agonizing days to determine one future bet. All preferred sportsbooks have continually amped up their wagering menus to accommodate in-play wagering plus offer more and more head to head action.  A few of the larger sportsbooks including Bovada, Bookmaker and MyBookie have advertised "accepting larger bets". Check with individual books for specific amounts and betting limits. 

Buy of the Tiger

Speaking of Tiger Woods, nothing could have helped golf wagering more than his recent unforgettable comeback win in The Masters. Though likely taking shorter than deserved odds, the story of how one player took down $1.2 million from William Hill in Las Vegas made headlines throughout the world. It not only alerted the average guy that golf was available to bet on, but lottery-type riches were potentially possible for a lucky guy to capture. Stories like this would not have existed pre-PASPA reversal.  It was subsequently followed up by the same player making news, wagering $100,000 again on Tiger at the PGA Championship. William Hill was more than happy offering him reduced super-square odds to recapture some of their funds.  Another lesson learned for bettors to not push their luck.

Golf Tees Off for Other Sports

Give the PGA credit for their aggressive stance embracing the U.S. legislative change to promote wagering. They haven’t (yet) demanded any “integrity fee’ nor bullied their way to provide data as a tax. Software like ShotLink are just the beginning of other type programs for sports introduced to help bettors make more confident wagering decisions.  They’ll be easily found on our computers or as apps on our phones.  My concern is we’ll be spending so much time crunching data and doing betting analysis, we won’t have much time left to pick up our heads to watch the games. 

Especially crucial in golf. Rule One: Keep your head down and eye on the ball.

Glenn Greene covers the games from a betting angle every week exclusively at For weekly betting insights, including previews and picks from Glenn, click here.

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