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Opinion & Analysis

Talking U.S. Open bets and the future of wagering on golf with a pro gambler

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We’ve been trying to catch up with Top Market Sports again since last year’s Masters, and I’m I pleased we were able to do so ahead of this year’s U.S. Open.

Dave, the owner of Top Market Sports, was kind enough to talk bankroll, futures betting, in-tournament plays, and what he sees on the horizon for legalized wagering on the game we all love.

Top Market, if you’re unaware, is the only sports advisory site in the world that’s owned and operated by real Wall Street traders and analysts, so they’re a cut above ye olde punter or so-called betting “expert.”

Anyway, check out our conversation, below.

GolfWRX: Let’s talk about bankroll management during major championships. Do you bet more? Less? About the same?

Dave: Well it’s never the same. And the amounts myself and my clients put in play have nothing to do with the prestige level of the tournament. We bet more when we think we have a big edge. We bet less when the odds are tighter and our perceived edge is smaller. Having said that, bookmakers offer a bigger prop menu during major championship weeks. I’m really starting to dig into these props this AM. There are a few that I’m advising clients to really step out on.

GolfWRX: What are you hearing about weather and course conditions? Any off-the-path angles bettors ought to consider at Pebble?

Dave: Pebble is one of the most weather-dependent courses in the world. So this is one of those weeks where I’ll be monitoring the doppler almost as hard as I’m monitoring play. As far as predicting the weather goes? Good luck. I’d pay a lot of money to know how these winds are going to blow. This truly is a second-shot golf course, so exceptional iron play and an ability to work the ball will be required. The combination of the small greens and the diabolical rough surrounding them means that if your approach shot isn’t perfect, you’re just asking to make a big number. And that’s a big theme for us this week…the week of the blow-up hole. All or nothing situations. You could play yourself out of this tournament with one bad miss. The key becomes figuring out which guys are more susceptible to blow-up.

GolfWRX: Taking a look at the betting favorites, who’s the most attractive to you in the futures market this week? 

Dave: He’s not a true favorite, but I like Molinari at 35/1. Considering he’s already got a major, I don’t think he’ll have any scar tissue from what happened at the Masters. He’s the type of guy that’s not going to get rattled by a tough rub-of-the-green bad break on some bumpy Poa Annua. I also like Fowler at 22/1. It’s hard to envision a scenario where he’s not at least in the mix. Rickie’s missed one cut in the past 12 calendar months. His soft hands around these tricky greens will be an asset. Admittedly, I’ve been betting Fowler almost every time he’s teed it up recently, and don’t have much to show for it other than a 20/1 winner in Phoenix in February. But he’s sneaky experienced. He’s definitely not a kid anymore. This could finally be his week.

GolfWRX: What about a player with longer odds? Who stands out to you and why? Any players you’re looking to fade this week?

Dave: I just hammered Bubba Watson at 125/1 this morning. People seem to forget that Bubba is still ranked 20th in the OWGR. He’s obviously not afraid of the big spot, having two green jackets in his closet. And his shot making ability makes him the type of wild card that could just play out of his mind on any given week. He’s also quietly matured over the past few seasons. We haven’t seen him go completely off the rails lately. Knock on wood. One of my biggest calls of the week is to fade Jon Rahm. I have him missing the cut at +220 and I’m also pounding against him in a basket of matchups. I’d tell you why, but then I’d have to kill you.

GolfWRX: Fair enough! As a final question, I wanted to get your take on the PGA Tour’s embrace of sports betting. It was a bit surprising to me. Does it surprise you? What do you think the future of betting on golf looks like?

Dave: I love the Tour’s honesty. It’s just so refreshing, compared to some of the halfhearted comments we’ve heard from other leagues regarding gambling legislation. Commissioner Monahan deserves credit for not beating around the bush. He knows that there’s no better way to increase engagement. He also knows that gambling and the game of golf go hand-in-hand. Even hackers like you and me enjoy playing for some pocket change when we’re out there, right Ben? I’m gonna get a couple of bucks back from you the next time you’re in Vegas, by the way.

Seriously though, the future of golf betting is extremely bright, and to me, it has nothing to do with legislation. It has everything to do with technology and the advent of in-play wagering. (In-play wagers are bets that are made while a game or event is already in progress.) Golf lends itself beautifully to in-play wagering. Think about it…the time between shots gives the house enough time to hang odds and time for punters to bet into those odds.

Imagine sitting on your couch this weekend watching Pebble coverage with your phone in your hand. Here’s Tommy Fleetwood with his approach on the 8th. Will he be inside or outside 10 feet? Or here’s Dustin Johnson on the 14th. Will his drive be over or under 303 yards? Bookmakers know that people are going to be wagering directly from their phones. That’s why they got developers working 24/7 to build out these betting apps. From insider contacts I have both in Vegas and at major offshore operations, it’s my understanding that we’re less than 24 months out from having access to expanded golf betting markets like those two examples I just gave. It’s going to be wild. I can’t wait to go head to head with these bookmakers.

You can check out Top Market Sports for free betting picks (not just golf…MLB, NHL, NFL, MLB and more, too), free articles, and a free real-time odds portal. They can also be found on Instagram @topmarketsports

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  1. JP

    Jun 11, 2019 at 9:26 pm

    Spieth to return in proper form!

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Opinion & Analysis

Top 5 wedges of all time

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Wedges. They are the “trusted old friends” in our golf bags. They inspire confidence inside of 100 yards and help us get back on track when we hit a wayward approach.

There was a time not too long ago when a bunker was considered a true hazard, but over the last 80 years, as agronomy has evolved on the same trajectory as club an ball technology, wedges have changed a great deal along the way—from the first modern prototype wedge built by Gene Sarazen to clubs featuring various plating and coatings to increase spin and performance. There are a lot of wedge designs that have stood the test of time; their sole grinds, profiles from address, and performance bring back memories of great hole outs and recovery shots.

With so many variations of wedges in the history of golf (and so much parity), this is my top five list (in no particular order) of the most iconic wedges in golf history.

Original Gene Sarazen Wedge

An early Gene Sarazen wedge. (Photo: USGA)

Gene is famous for a lot of things: the career grand slam, the longest endorsement deal in professional sports history (75 years as a Wilson ambassador), the “shot heard around the world”, and as mentioned earlier—the creation of the modern sand wedge. Although not credited with the invention of the original  “sand wedge” he 100 percent created the modern wedge with a steel shaft and higher bounce. A creation that developed from soldering mass to the sole and flange of what would be our modern-day pitching wedge. Born from the idea of a plane wing, thanks to a trip taken with Howard Hughes, we can all thank Mr. Sarazen for the help with the short shots around the green.

Wilson R90

The next evolution of the original Sarazen Design, the Wilson R90 was the very first mass-marketed sand wedge. Its design characteristics can still be seen in the profile of some modern wedges. Although many might not be as familiar with the R90, you would almost certainly recognize the shape, since it was very often copied by other manufacturers, in their wedge lines.

The R90 features a very rounded profile, high amount of offset, and a great deal of bounce in the middle of the sole, with very little camber. Although not as versatile as modern wedges because of the reduced curve from heel to toe, the R90 is still a force to be reckoned with in the sand.

Cleveland 588

You know a name and design are classic when a company chooses to use the original notation more than 30 years after its initial release. The 588 was introduced as Cleveland’s fifth wedge design and came to market in 1988—which is how it got its name. Wedges were never the same after.

The brainchild of Roger Cleveland, the 588 was made from 8620 carbon steel—which patinad over time. Not unlike the Wilson before it, the 588 had a very traditional rounded shape with a higher toe and round leading edge. The other part of the design that created such versatility was the V-Sole (No, not the same as the Current Srixon), that offers a lot more heel relief to lower the leading edge as the face was opened up—this was the birth of the modern wedge grind.

Titleist Vokey Spin Milled

The wedge that launched the Vokey brand into the stratosphere. Spin-milled faces changed the way golfers look at face technology in their scoring clubs. From a humble club builder to a wedge guru, Bob Vokey has been around golf and the short game for a long time. The crazy thing about the Bob Vokey story is that it all started with one question: “who wants to lead the wedge team?” That was all it took to get him from shaping Titleist woods to working with the world’s best players to create high-performance short game tools.

Honorable mentions for design goes to the first 200 and 400 series wedge, which caught golfers’ eyes with their teardrop shape—much like the Cleveland 588 before it.

Ping Eye 2 Plus

What can you say? The unique wedge design that other OEMs continue to draw inspiration from it 30 years after its original conception. The Eye 2+ wedge was spawned from what is undoubtedly the most popular iron design of all time, which went through many iterations during its 10 years on the market—a lifecycle that is completely unheard of in today’s world of modern equipment.

A pre-worn sole, huge amount of heel and toe radius, and a face that screams “you can’t miss,” the true beauty comes from the way the hosel transitions into the head, which makes the club one of the most versatile of all time.

Check out my video below for more on why this wedge was so great.

Honorable mention: The Alien wedge

To this day, the Alien wedge is the number-one-selling single golf club of all time! Although I’m sure there aren’t a lot of people willing to admit to owning one, it did help a lot of golfer by simplifying the short game, especially bunker shots.

Its huge profile looked unorthodox, but by golly did it ever work! Designed to be played straight face and essentially slammed into the sand to help elevate the ball, the club did what it set out to do: get you out of the sand on the first try. You could say that it was inspired by the original Hogan “Sure-Out,” but along the way it has also inspired others to take up the baton in helping the regular high-handicap golfer get out of the sand—I’m looking at you XE1.

That’s my list, WRXers. What would you add? Let me know in the comments!

 

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Podcasts

The 19th Hole: Meet the world’s most expensive putter and the man behind it

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Host Michael Williams talks with Steve Sacks of Sacks Parente Golf about the idea and implementation of their revolutionary Series 39 blade putter. Also features PGA Professional Brian Sleeman of Santa Lucia Preserve (CA).

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below. 

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Opinion & Analysis

A day at the CP Women’s Open

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It’s another beautiful summer day in August. Just like any other pro-am at a professional tour event, amateurs are nervously warming up on the driving range and on the putting green next to their pros. As they make their way to the opening tees, they pose for their pictures, hear their names called, and watch their marque player stripe one down the fairway. But instead of walking up 50 yards to the “am tees,” they get to tee it up from where the pros play—because this is different: this is the LPGA Tour!

I’m just going to get right to it, if you haven’t been to an LPGA Tour event you NEED to GO! I’ve been to a lot of golf events as both a spectator and as media member, and I can say an LPGA Tour event is probably the most fun you can have watching professional golf.

The CP Women’s Open is one of the biggest non-majors in women’s golf. 96 of the top 100 players in the world are in the field, and attendance numbers for this stop on the schedule are some of the highest on tour. The 2019 edition it is being held at exclusive Magna Golf Club in Aurora, Ontario, which is about an hour north of downtown Toronto and designed by noted Canadian architect Doug Carrick. The defending Champion is none other than 21-year-old Canadian phenom Brooke Henderson, who won in emotional fashion last year.

From a fan’s perspective, there are some notable differences at an LPGA Tour event, and as a true “golf fan,” not just men’s golf fan, there are some big parts of the experience that I believe everyone can enjoy:

  • Access: It is certainly a refreshing and laidback vibe around the golf course. It’s easy to find great vantage points around the range and practice facility to watch the players go through their routines—a popular watching spot. Smaller infrastructure doesn’t mean a smaller footprint, and there is still a lot to see, plus with few large multi-story grandstands around some of the finishing holes, getting up close to watch shots is easier for everyone.
  • Relatability: This is a big one, and something I think most golfers don’t consider when they choose to watch professional golf. Just like with the men’s game there are obviously outliers when it comes to distance on the LPGA Tour but average distances are more in line with better club players than club players are to PGA Tour Pros. The game is less about power and more about placement. Watching players hit hybrids as accurately as wedges is amazing to watch. Every player from a scratch to a higher handicap can learn a great deal from watching the throwback style of actually hitting fairways and greens vs. modern bomb and gouge.
  • Crowds: (I don’t believe this is just a “Canadian Thing”) It was refreshing to spend an entire day on the course and never hear a “mashed potatoes” or “get in the hole” yelled on the tee of a par 5. The LPGA Tour offers an extremely family-friendly atmosphere, with a lot more young kids, especially young girls out to watch their idols play. This for me is a huge takeaway. So much of professional sports is focused on the men, and with that you often see crowds reflect that. As a father to a young daughter, if she decides to play golf, I love the fact that she can watch people like her play the game at a high level.

There is a lot of talk about the difference between men’s and women’s professional sports, but as far as “the product” goes, I believe that LPGA Tour offers one of the best in professional sports, including value. With a great forecast, a great course, and essentially every top player in the field, this week’s CP Women’s Open is destined to be another great event. If you get the chance to attend this or any LPGA Tour event, I can’t encourage you enough to go!

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