Who would have thought someone hitting a little white ball with a stick could captivate the sporting public so much?
But golf does just that and it remains one of the most attractive sports to both the viewing and betting public.
A pastime and passion for the weekend player, the professional game features some colourful characters, prodigious youngsters and world superstars without parallel.
Names such as Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson and Jason Day regularly contend for the trophies and million pound paychecks on offer.
Their fortunes can turn on the bounce of a ball, a gust of wind and a putt rolling agonisingly past the hole.
The golf calendar revolves around the four Majors:
- The Masters at Augusta National in April where the famous Green Jacket will be placed on the shoulders of the victor
- The Open, played in the UK, which is the oldest golf tournament in the world and offers the exquisite Claret Jug to the shooter of the lowest score
- The US Open, famed for being played on difficult courses and widely considered the toughest test in golf
- The USPGA in August, again at different courses, which boasts recent winners such as McIlroy, Day and Justin Thomas, who triumphed in this year’s event.
Away from the ‘big four’ there are tournaments year-round on the PGA Tour in the United States and European Tour, which also travels further afield.
There is also Players Championship – which features the top 50 players on the planet battling it out over the TPC at Sawgrass course – and the World Golf Championship (WGC), which features four events: the Accenture Match Play, Cadillac Championship, Bridgestone Invitational and HSBC Champions.
The sport is booming in Asia and the women’s game has started to attract media coverage and prize money to make it a huge draw.
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Ryder Cup thrills
While primarily an individual sport, when golfers join forces to compete as a team the excitement and drama is unbeatable – with the Ryder Cup between the US and Europe a enthralling contest staged every two years.
The Americans hold the famous gold trophy at present, but Europe will be desperate to regain the glory when the next instalment plays out at in 2018 in France.
How to bet to golf
Most tournaments are staged over four days and 72 holes, with a halfway cut made to discard those lagging behind the leaders.
Saturday, day three. is often referred to as ‘Moving Day’ as this is traditionally when players can force the pace to put themselves in contention for the final 18 holes on the Sunday.
The betting options available include an outright winner, but also players finishing in the top 10, those making and missing the cut, and the lowest individual round of the tournament.
Highest number of birdies, bogeys and pars, as well as fewest putts and longest driving yardage all keep the interest up throughout.
Because golf courses, unlike football pitches and basketball courts, are all very different it worth considering which players have the swing and game suitable to win.
Famously, after Tiger Wood finished a record 21 under par at the 1997 Masters to win by a record 12 shots, many top courses lengthened – or ‘Tiger-proofed’ – their holes to combat the American’s mind-blowing power off the tee.
Many US courses are well sculptured and offer the chance to play ‘target golf’, where accuracy and consistency are key in often pleasant weather conditions.