Industry News

Worth the gamble: Vegas likes growing action on golf

First of two parts

By Alex Miceli

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – If the first two weeks of 2017 are any indication, golf betting is a growing business. As the NFL was winding down, PGA Tour action filled the void for gamblers.

“It's been our best handle that I can remember on these two individual tournaments (SBS Tournament of Champions and the Sony Open in Hawaii), so it's promising going into this year,” said Jeff Sherman, the manager at Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, without disclosing numbers. 

Sherman sets the weekly golf lines, for release to the public on Mondays. Interestingly, the odds are set mostly based on the competitors’ success in recent weeks, with some credit given to their history on the host course. World ranking and many performance stats that the tours use to chart players are ignored.

Once the competitors are analyzed against one another, Sherman starts to set the betting line.

“The last thing you do is just look at what you think the perception's going to be out there based on if I put his odds at 40-1, in relation to this field,” Sherman said. “ ’Do I think I'm going to get money at that?’ ‘Is it going to be overwhelming?’ If I think it might be a little too high, I'll go a little bit lower and just try to find, based on feel and what I think the perception is going to be.”

Sherman goes back six to eight weeks and tries to spot trends. Certain tournaments also will be weighted differently than others, sometimes giving more emphasis to the course.

“Charles Howell always does well at Farmers (Insurance Open at Torrey Pines), so you don't have much coming in on current form because they’ve been off for a month,” Sherman said. “So it's a lot of weight, and it tends to stick on a few. The Heritage at Harbour Town, that's another one. Augusta is one of the biggest ones. You’ve got a good history there. Sometimes no matter how poorly you're playing, you can come in there and finish top‑10.

“So, there's a few tournaments that stand out where they will have more weight on the course form,” Sherman said, “but generally I'll put about 75 to 80 percent on weight on the current form.”

Coming Thursday: No player moves the betting needle like Tiger Woods.

Alex Miceli is the founder and publisher of Morning Read.