If you enjoy putting a few bucks on golf, this is the best time of year. Masters pools might be circulating in your office (and if they’re not, step up and set one up!), and it’s time to win some money. Plus, if you live in one of 19 states where legal sports betting is available, you could bet through an app on your phone or at a sportsbook near you.
Betting has always been part of the fabric of recreational golf, and it’s now legal to do so as we watch the professionals play.
Even if you don’t have access to a pool or can’t place a wager in your state—there are many ways to have some action (legally) on the 2020 Masters. Here are our best suggestions.
Even if your state doesn’t offer legal sports betting, daily fantasy sports (DFS) is more widely legal. (DFS is considered a game of chance and only barred in six states.)
DraftKings and FanDuel are the two biggest DFS websites, and you can deposit money on their platforms with a bank transfer or a credit card. Each website is hosting contests with huge price pools—DraftKings’ contest (a $20 entry fee) offers a $4 million price pool with $1 million to first place; and FanDuel’s contest ($15 entry) carries a $1 million price pool and $200,000 to first.
How’s it work? You pick a roster of six players using a salary cap. Points are awarded when your players register birdies and birdie streaks (and you lose points for bogeys). If a player misses the cut, you don’t collect points for them on the weekend—thus the importance of picking someone to make it to Sunday. Each platform has different scoring rules, so check their website for specifics.
Note: Check GolfDigest.com on Monday: Our DFS expert and GolfDigest.com contributor, Rick Gehman, has a weekly article with complete analysis of the best and worst plays of the week!
If you want to try a different platform, here are a few to consider:
Monkey Knife Fight is a DFS website that offers a number of proposition bets to earn money. (Jason Day over/under 68.5 strokes in a given round; picking the winner of a matchup between Sam Burns and Brandt Snedeker; etc.) There are contests after every round.
StatHero launched in September as a DFS-survivor format in which you pick a different set of golfers per round to compete against a computer-generated lineup. If you beat the company’s lineup, you move onto the next round, where you pick a roster of golfers you hadn’t picked previously.
SuperDraft is another new DFS company getting into golf. Instead of being constrained by a salary cap, you can pick any set of six golfers, but the riskier the pick, the more you’re rewarded with the company’s multiplier concept. (If you pick Dustin Johnson, he might only have a 1.1 multiplier. But if you pick Shawn Stefani, he would have a 1.7 multiplier, so you’d earn more points.)
What else can you play besides DFS?
As we teased in the start, Masters pools are such a great way to add even more enjoyment to your viewing experience. We’ve seen a variety of formats. If you’re putting one together with friends or family, we have a few recommendations:
You’ve been hearing your buddies talking about betting on golf, so why not you? Now’s the best time to wet your beak.
The most popular bet is an outright bet on a player to win. So if Bryson DeChambeau is 8-1 to win the Masters, and you placed $20 on him and he wins, you’d win $160.
Match-up bets pit one player versus another (or multiple players if it’s a group bet). Insiders will tell you these are the sharpest bets. It’s way easier to predict the outcomes of two golfers than an entire golf tournament with 144 or 156 players. Singling out one player to bet against can provide less variance.
Some other, more fun prop bets include picking a player to be the first-round leader, picking a player to finish in the top 10 or top 20, and even some more specific options like a player hitting the fairway or making the cut.
Variables are aplenty in golf—weather, injuries, tee-time waves, whether family life is OK at home. We’re kidding on the last part … kind of. As long as you embrace the volatility of betting on golf, it can be a ton of fun.
To give this a try, check out which online sportsbooks operate in your state. Before placing a bet, you deposit a chosen amount of money (most books have a minimum of $10) via credit card or bank transfer, then use that money to bet through the app. We recommend starting slow—the great thing about golf is the ability to bet a little to win a lot—and your bet lasts for four days (if your player makes the cut).
OK, who should you bet on this year?
Give us until Tuesday to give our picks. One thing we do know: The forecast for next week looks like a lot of wet weather, which should favor longer hitters even more than usual.
It’s tough to make a case against Bryson DeChambeau right now, but there’s not a ton of value for your money. We’d favor going down the odds board and looking at Brooks Koepka (20-1); Tyrrell Hatton (25-1); Patrick Reed (28-1) or Adam Scott (50-1). The return on those bets makes them more appealing.
Augusta National is perhaps the best example in golf of long-term course form mattering more than any other course. So long-term success can outweigh current form in some cases.
Those are just some early leans: Like we said, check GolfDigest.com’s experts picks column on Tuesday!