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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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Club Junkie

Club Junkie: VA Composites Nemesys wood shaft review and a big golf week for me!

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This week is a big golf week — playing in a member invitational! Got the bag sorted out and there are 14 clubs that I am going to live or die on the course with. I have been hitting the new VA Composites Nemesys wood shaft and am very impressed. A great counterbalanced option with a mid-low launch and low spin.

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Opinion & Analysis

Book review: The Golf Lover’s Guide To England

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There is this notion in the British isles, completely foreign to America, that states that visitors shall have access to all but a smallish passel of private clubs. In abject contrast, the finest clubs of the USA do their level best to keep their gates closed to both the riff and the raff, neither of which is nearly as detrimental to their continuity as some fearful members might believe. In this era of the database, would it be that hard to allow a visitor access once in her/his/their lifetime to Cypress Point, or Friar’s Head, or Prairie Dunes? Into the database their GHIN number would go, and if said individual were fortunate enough to win the lottery for a coveted golden ticket, err, tee time, that would be it for all time. I digress, however, as that rant is not the purpose of this book review.

The Golf Lover’s Guide To England, written and compiled by Michael Whitehead, lists 33 elite golf clubs across that country, divided into four regions, which are further divided into nine districts. Each of these clubs would be identified as unlikely in the USA, but is certainly accessible in England. The short story is: this nearly-pocket-sized compendium should accompany any traveler of golfing purpose, as it is invaluable for understanding the ins and outs of making contact, locating courses, and learning of their nature and history. The long story goes quite a bit deeper.

Michael Whitehead has the forethought to organize his works (Scotland was his first TGLGT volume) in meticulous fashion. The volume opens with a colorful map of the targeted country, complete with numbered flags to identify each of the courses reviewed within. The entire book explodes with wondrous colors, both in page background and course photography, and heightens the sensory experience of its study.

A delightful touch is the location of the Acknowledgements section in the front of the book. Typically relegated to one of the final pages that we skip past, before closing the cover, this is not the case here. Whitehead recognizes the invaluable assistance of his supporting cast, and situates them front and center. Good for you, Mr. Whitehead.

A brief history of the game in England is followed by the first of the four (North, Midlands & East Anglia, South East, South West) regions. The most populous of these is the South East, and we will use it to break down the districts. Five courses occupy an unnamed, scattered district. Five more are situated in the Surrey/Berkshire sandbelt, and four of those sites offer 36 holes on property. A final three fit into the Kent Coast district, and one of them has 27 holes within its confines. Thus it goes throughout the other three regions, albeit at a less-frenetic pace.

Moving along, each of the 33 seminal courses is granted six pages for description and assessment. Whitehead assigns color-coded price guides to each course, ranging from the up-to-49-British-Pounds entry point to the over-200-British-Pounds stratum. He also offers seasonal stratification, identifying the High (expensive) season, the Shoulder (mid-range) seasons, and the Low (economic) season. To facilitate contact with the club, Whitehead does his level best to provide online, email, and telephone booking options for each of the clubs. He adds in area courses of interest, in case the reader/traveler is confined to a specific locale. What more could one need, in advance of the golf trip of a lifetime?

For starters, one might wish to know a bit more about the course. Mr. Whitehead goes into the distances of teeing grounds, the need (or not) for a handicap certificate, the availability of caddies and rentals (push cart, electric push cart, clubs and motorized carts), the dress code, and (if any) tee time restrictions. In other words, any botched planning falls squarely on the shoulders of the golfer. Michael Whitehead has led the horse to the trough, filled it with water, and essentially dunked the equine mouth in the aqueous substance.

I’ve a friend who hates to know anything about a course he has yet to play. Attempt to mention any facet of the course and his response is a loud and grating LA-LA-LA-LA-LA, ad infinitum or until you cease your attempt at enlightenment. For the rest of us sane travelers, a bit of back story about the property, the architect, and the laying out of the course adds to the anticipation. As an architecture aficionado, I base the majority of my trips around the works of the golden-age architects, here in the USA. If afforded the opportunity to travel to England, I would seek out the works of Harry Colt, Alister MacKenzie, Herbert Fowler, and their contemporaries. Thankfully, all of this information is listed in Whitehead’s thorough volume.

The old carpenter’s motto of measure twice and cut once can certainly be applied when considering a purchase of this volume. Abandon its opportunity and you risk a return trip to the lumber yard, at considerable expense. Take advantage of what it has to offer, and your trip’s chances at success are doubled at the very least.

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Golf's Perfect Imperfections

Golf’s Perfect Imperfections: What’s your target score?

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Without a target score, you are just wandering in the field like a feather in the wind. The North Star for your mindset starts with a target score!

 

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