guide to spread betting on golf

The Basics

Spread betting can initially seem complicated but once understood it adds a fascinating new dimension to your golf betting. With roots in financial markets, spread betting asks you to take an opinion on whether you think a selection will perform better or worse than a spread price, similar to buying or selling a stock price.


Sporting Index's Introduction to Spread Betting


SpreadEx's Introduction to Spread Betting


In simple terms, BUY a position and go above the spread, SELL to go below it. See below for an example of the Finishing Position market for the Shell Houston Open.


Sporting Index's Finishing Position market

spread betting finishing positions example



A SELL on Justin Thomas (below the spread price of 15-18) means that if he finishes better than 15th then you profit, if he finishes worse you lose.  Thomas finished the tournament in ninth, which meant a finish position of 9.  A SELL would have meant a make-up of 6 (the spread price (15) minus the position (9))  The profit is then the make-up multiplied by the initial stake.


A BUY on Dustin Johnson (above the spread of 17-20) means that if he finishes higher than 20 then you profit, if he finishes lower you lose.  Johnson dominated the tournament over the weekend, to eventually win the tournament.  This meant a loss on your bet with giving a make-up of 19 (1 minus the BUY spread price of 20) giving a loss on the bet of the make-up multiplied by the make-up.



Spread Betting Markets

Spread betting companies offer a multitude of markets on golf tournaments, here's the main ones.

(i) The leaderboard/winner market rewards high tournament finishes by assigning a point value to a finishing position.


Sporting Index's Leaderboard market

mexico open leaderboard example


For example 2nd-placed Rory McIlroy would have returned a value of 40.  So given his spread price of 9-12, a BUY would have produced a profit of x28 times the stake (40-12) and a SELL, a loss of x31 (40-9)

The Leaderboard market is the closest to fixed-odds' win and each-way betting as it rewards high finishes (albeit graduated over the positions)  It's also a good market to oppose players close to the head of the market who you don't believe will play well.

(ii) The finishing position market allows you to bet on where a player will finish in a tournament.  For most tournaments the maximum make-up is set at 70, so any position greater than that will be settled at 70 (including missed cuts) - The Mexico Open is an exemption to this due to the smaller than normal field.


Sporting Index's Finish Position market

mexico open finishing position example


For example a BUY (to perform worse than the spread of 24-27) on Marc Leishman who finished in a three-way tie for 62nd (a value of 63*) would have produced a profit of 13.5 times the stake (46.5-33)

* ties in spread betting is the average position across those players in a tie (ie tied 62nd with 3 players gives a value of 63; (62+63+64)/3)

Finish position bets put much less emphasis on winning and more on performance.  This can mean backing a player (SELL their position) without necessarily believing they will contend or win, which brings into play the whole field and presents a different challenge to predicting a player to win or achieve a high finish.

(iii) Match betting involves the pairing of two players over an individual round or whole tournament.  The market is then settled based on both the result and the shot difference between the two players.  A popular match bet is "10-3" 18 hole matches where the bet is settled on the result (awarded 10pts) and the shot difference (x3)


Sporting Index's 18-hole matchups

mexico open 18 hole match ups

For the Louis Oosthuizen / Billy Horschel match-up above, their first-round score difference was 4 shots in favour of Horschel (72 Oosthuizen, 68 Horschel) so the make-up was -22 points (4 shots x 3pts + 10pts for winning, a positive value on the first player, negative on the second)  The spread price was 0-3 which meant a BUY would have produced a loss of 25 units (-22-3), a SELL would have meant a profit of 22 units (22-0)  Should Ooosthuizen had shot the lower score, the make-up would have been the negative of the make-up (for example if scores had been reversed then the make-up would have been -28)

Match bets are also available for 72 holes of a tournament and can be a great opportunity especially when you find a pairing involving two players that you have contrasting opinions on.


Be aware of potential losses : Always be aware of potential losses as spread betting losses can exceed initial deposits.  Deposit accounts and market stop-losses can mitigate against this but you should always be aware of the risks.  If you feel you have a problem gambling use the resources available from the GAMCARE and Responsible Gambling Trust.

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Advantages Of Spread Betting


The righter you are, the more you win : In some ways spread betting gives you a fairer return as the better your prediction, the more you win (although also the wronger you are, the more you lose!)  Spread betting rewards (or penalises) your judgement based on the accuracy of your prediction.


Will it be a good or bad week? : Being able to take a positive or negative opinion on a player (BUY or SELL on the spread) gives you the added dimension of not only being able to predict that a player will perform well but also badly.  If you fancy a player won't play well, spread betting gives you the opportunity to oppose them.


Have an interest through the tournament : Spread betting selections will often give you an active interest through all four days of a tournament.  Back a player at fixed-odds and they may never be in contention but in a Spread Betting market like Finishing Position, if your player makes the cut you'll have an active interest through until Sunday afternoon.


Change your mind during the tournament : As golf tournaments stretch over four days, you have time to change your opinion on a player and either take a profit or a loss.  Spread betting allows you to close-out existing bets, meaning you can take a profit or limit a loss as well as backing new players.


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