The Accelerated Growth of Sports Betting in Golf

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When the PGA TOUR extended its agreement with FanDuel as an Official Betting Operator earlier this year, it sent a clear message on their intentions for the tour going forward. By maintaining its partnership with a massive operator in iGaming (they also partner with DraftKings, BetMGM and PointsBet), the PGA TOUR continued their plan to increase its reach and influence through the sports betting market.

With the first major of the season taking place at Augusta National in early April, it’s the opportune time to look at the golf world and how it’s beginning to create its own niche in the sports betting market.

The PGA TOUR and their Aggressive Sportsbook Push

As gambling regulations have evolved in North America over the last few years, it’s been interesting to observe how different major sports leagues have adapted sports betting into their product.

While the NFL is generating a ton of momentum with sportsbook brands now, one of the earliest and most aggressive adopters was the PGA TOUR.

When PAPSA was repealed in 2018, the PGA TOUR knew this was going to be an important avenue for them and began to adjust to integrate gambling aspects into their business model. Then, in 2020, as the sports world shut down due to the pandemic, they decided to fast track their iGaming plans when it became apparent they’d be one of the first sports to restart their campaign. With many sports and gambling fans looking to fill their sports void, the PGA TOUR bet that they’d see increased engagement and intended to capitalize.

The Tour struck deals with the four massive operators mentioned above (FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM and PointsBet) and then over the course of six short weeks, their management team adjusted their regulations to incorporate sports betting. Their bet was a smart one, as in 2021 the tour saw a 30% increase in viewership. Meanwhile, multiple sportsbooks have said their golf-related wagering has doubled year over year.

Key Differences in Golf Gambling That Operators Should Market

  • Simplicity

Getting into sports betting can be complicated for new users who aren’t aware of all the different lingo used. Concepts like over/under, parlays and spreads can cause friction for inexperienced bettors who want to get involved in sports betting. With golf, that barrier of entry isn’t as relevant, as the betting concepts involved are far simpler. Users can typically choose whether a golfer will win, finish in the top 5 or even the top 20. This kind of betting is also less time consuming for users, as they don’t need to weed through a bunch of different figures and bets. Simplicity can be a major advantage for betting on professional golf and something operators should look to lean into.

  • Pace of Play

Golf’s pace of play is also structured in a way that encourages betting throughout the weekend. Typically, golf events last for four days, giving users a ton of time to enjoy the game and place bets during the action. The style of play lends itself to betting quite well, as golf’s slower pace as compared to the NFL or NBA allows bettors to take their time making bets during events. Betting promotions on other sports emphasize rapidly changing odds for in-game bets that require lightning-quick decision-making. Operators looking to promote golf need to emphasize that it’s a different, more relaxed betting environment.

  • New Games

Operators also have the benefit of the PGA and European Tour rolling out new games for users to bet on. An exciting example of this the par-3 betting game being run by IMG Arena, which is available for every event apart from the Majors. Fans can bet on exciting options like which player will get closest to the hole, who will have the lowest score and other bets like that those, making this an attractive new game for operators to market.

  • Long-term Athlete Partnerships

In terms of promoting and partnering with the golfers themselves, it presents a different proposition than with other professional sports leagues. Firstly, when compared to most North American leagues, golfers are not attached to a particular team, which gives them a more universal appeal. Secondly, golfers tend to have longer careers than other athletes, which can lead to long, valuable relationships for both sides. For example, last year Jordan Spieth agreed to a multi-year partnership with FanDuel at the age of 27. As a young golfer with a terrific future ahead of him, the hope for FanDuel is a to have a long-term spokesperson who will help them connect with potential customers.

What Next?

Augusta National will be the home for the upcoming 86th edition of the Masters Tournament and with all that excitement will come an influx of users for operators that are looking to get involved in golf betting. The PGA TOUR has taken a lot of steps to optimize their brands for operators, making it an exciting time in the golf world. New customers are getting involved with the sport and operators should look to these strategies to make this period as fruitful as possible and sure that these users stick around!