The popularity of betting on golf is rising across the US. Golf’s ascent as a betting vehicle is especially evident in live betting, which allows for betting on every hole — and on every shot.
There are live professional golf events you can bet on most of the year. Even during the winter, you can usually find some options for futures betting on golf tournaments set for after the snow thaws.
With the legalization of sports betting in the Hawkeye State, Iowans enjoy online betting on sports.
Here’s a comprehensive guide for how to bet on golf in Iowa. We will run through the different golf bets, where to find the best odds and bonuses and some tips to make your golf betting as smooth as Ernie Els’ swing.
Check our real-time golf odds feed from Iowa online sportsbooks to see the latest odds for upcoming PGA Tour events and Majors. Use the drop-down menu to see the various odds boards, including To Win, Finish in Top 5/10/20/30/40, Leader after Round 1, etc.
Click on any odds to head straight to the sportsbook, claim your bonus (see under logo) and start making your bets. Below is a snapshot of the Top 20 on the odds board; to see the full list, check the main live odds board.
To start online golf betting in Iowa is mostly the same as in other legalized betting states:
Downloading an Iowa sportsbook app follows mostly the same procedure as any other app. To be frank, Apple users will struggle to discern any difference.
For Apple users:
Android users, however, will need to work around Google’s ban on gambling apps in the Google Play Store:
Regardless of the type of mobile device you have, everything is the same from here. Look for a large button in the top-right corner of your app that prompts you to register, sign up, join or get started.
The button will take you to the registration section of the app. Enter your personal information in the blanks provided. If there is an optional space for a betting bonus code and you wrote one down, make sure to enter it here.
After that, you should be good to go. The app will either prompt you to make your first deposit or it will plop you into the lobby.
Perhaps the biggest difference between retail and online sports betting is the advent of live betting. Live betting, or in game betting, allows you to wager on events as they are happening. Live betting options cause single golf tournaments to go from only one or two bet options to dozens.
The most common type of bet you will make on golf is a futures bet. In golf, there is no accrual of points, and the sheer number of competitors in the field means that creating a spread bet or moneyline is all but impossible.
However, live betting on golf is a bit different because tournament play is so episodic. Because there are gaps between play (i.e., each day of the tournament), non-live bets actually occur in the gaps between days.
What live betting adds to golf is a much more granular set of betting options. Instead of merely betting on the tournament’s eventual winner, you can wager on the outcome of individual holes or, in some cases, individual shots.
Even though golf’s pace is considerably slower than other sports, you will still need to use an online sportsbook to participate in live betting. Retail sportsbooks simply don’t have the facility to offer very much after the tournament is underway.
One thing to keep in mind is that the live odds on a golf tournament will change from hole to hole and round to round. Golfers must deal with quite a bit of variation in their results — even from day to day. Simple things like hole placement and changes in weather can have a profound effect on results — and that’s before we consider that some days you simply feel better (or worse).
Although golf is usually never the top of the heap for a sportsbook’s priorities, you can still find promotions, bonuses and odds boosts for the tournaments in progress.
One of the easiest promotions that a sportsbook in Iowa may offer on golf is an odds boost. Odds boosts are adjustments that the sportsbooks make to existing odds in order to offer a bigger payout for the same bet. Needless to say, the book hopes that making the payout more attractive will inspire more wagering.
Since the primary bet for golf is the moneyline bet, i.e., who will win the tournament, it’s easy enough to boost the payout for a particular player to win or finish in the top tier of players. You may see something like this:
To finish in the top 20
All of a sudden, this bet might seem quite attractive. Instead of requiring you to lay money (pay $125 to win $100) on Koepka, the book is now offering even odds. If Koepka is already in the top 20 (or 10) of the tournament, this one is a no-brainer.
You could also see bonuses designed as (more or less) throwaway bonuses to get you playing on the site. One sportsbook offered new customers the opportunity to receive $100 in free bets. All they had to do was make a $1 moneyline bet on any golfer during the Masters. Then, the only requirement to receive the bonus was that somebody, not even the wagered golfer, makes a birdie.
Again, a promo like that is a no-brainer, even if you’re not planning on staying with the sportsbook offering it. The thing to do is to remain alert when the PGA Tour is in season — particularly if one of the four majors is on tap.
Obviously, the four majors in golf are the most-watched tournaments each year. Unsurprisingly, they are also the most-wagered.
To refresh your memory, there are four tournaments designated as the most prestigious in all of golf. To win one of these events usually cements a golfer in the history books. We often measure careers, in part, by how many majors a golfer has won. The four majors in golf are:
The pandemic of 2020 created unique situations for all these tournaments. The British Open was canceled, which had not happened since World War II. All three of the other events were delayed and took place without spectators.
Needless to say, hopes are high that things will return to normal in 2021.
Of the four majors, the Masters is the most prestigious. It is also the best-known golf tournament in the world. Its exclusivity, traditions and natural beauty place it above any other event.
The Masters is also the only one of the four majors to be played at the same place each year — Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. Only about 100 players are invited to play in the tournament each year.
The 2021 Masters is set to return the tournament to its traditional schedule in the first week of April. Here are the relevant details:
2020 was a banner year for Dustin Johnson and saw him win three tournaments, including the Masters. He also had several other high finishes, including the runner-up position at the 2020 PGA Championship. There is no reason to assume that he will fall out of his top form before April 2021 rolls around. It would be foolish to think that he could not repeat his win.
Other possible contenders for the green jacket include Bryson DeChambeau, Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas and Collin Morikawa. All five are bright young stars on the PGA Tour and could easily put together a winning performance at Augusta in 2021.
Lastly, though he’s not a favorite, you cannot ever count out Tiger Woods to put on a throwback performance as he did in 2019. His win proved that even after the numerous injuries and personal battles, the world’s most famous golfer can still play at an elite level — even if he shot a 10 on the par-3 12th at the most recent Masters.
The US Open is notable for a couple of reasons. For one thing, it welcomes both professionals and amateurs, provided that the amateurs maintain a handicap of 1.4 or better. Players can join the field either by being exempt (by virtue of various championships or designations) or by qualifying through specified tournaments. One hundred and fifty-six players compete in the US Open each year.
The tournament is also known for its inhospitable course conditions. The courses are long and often engineered with tight fairways, extremely thick rough and tremendously sloping greens. As a result, it is not uncommon for winning scores to be at or over par. In the 2010s alone, +1 was a winning score three times.
The US Open is typically the third major to occur and usually takes place in mid-June. Though the 2020 event occurred in September, the 2021 event is set to return to its normal slot:
Bryson DeChambeau signaled his readiness for prime time with his 2020 win at Winged Foot. The long bomber should have similar success at Torrey Pines, which is probably more suited to his game than Winged Foot was. He will also have the confidence and inspiration of a current champion defending his crown.
Of course, the other top golfers in the world will have something to say about DeChambeau’s dreams of a repeat. Notably, Dustin Johnson looks to continue playing golf better than just about anybody in the world right now. Other challengers for the US Open should be familiar faces, like Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. We would also be remiss if we didn’t mention Xander Schauffele as a potential contender, as he has shown a particular affinity for the US Open in the past.
The Open Championship, or British Open, has many attributes to distinguish it from the other three majors. Obviously, the biggest one is its location — it is the only major not to be played in the US. It is also the oldest of the four, having held its first event in 1860. The Open Championship is the only major administered by The R&A, which is the governing body for all golf not inside the US or Mexico.
The Open is always played on a links-style course along the coast of either Scotland, England or Northern Ireland. The chosen courses are often some of the oldest in existence, including St. Andrews — the reputed birthplace of golf. If any achievement challenges a Masters’ win for prestige, it is a victory at St. Andrews in the Open.
The Open is the latest-played of the four events and usually takes place in the latter half of July. As implied by its “open” name, both professionals and amateurs can participate. However, like its US counterpart, most of the competitors are invited to play, and there are strict entrance requirements. The Open Championship was the only major not to occur in 2020, so the 2021 event is certain to bear special significance.
One truth about the Open Championship is that its eventual winner is a bit harder to predict. The influx of talent from the European Tour means that players who are not as prominent in the public eye can rise to the top. In the last 10 years alone, champions have come from six countries.
So, while it’s tempting to say that Dustin Johnson’s reign will continue at Royal St. George’s, the fact is that DJ will have to succeed against different players on a different style of course than he typically plays. That doesn’t mean that he cannot do it, but there will be some stiff competition.
Other notable names that are likely to challenge Johnson and the rest of the world’s best are Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm. McIlroy already has an Open Championship win under his belt and is certainly no stranger to playing in the UK. Rahm is always strong and is still looking for a breakthrough tournament, and this one could have the magic for “Rahmbo.”
The PGA Championship is the fourth golf major and is likely the least-known of the four. Although it bears a large purse and exemptions to the other majors, it often seems to be a bit of an afterthought in terms of a golfer’s legacy.
Part of the tourney’s obscurity may stem from the fact that it is the only major to exclude amateur entries. Two of the other majors are open tournaments and have pathways for amateurs of all stripes to enter, and the Masters commonly invites six top amateur champions to compete for the Silver Cup, a trophy awarded to the lowest-scoring amateur of the tournament.
The PGA Championship’s dark horse status could have also been partially attributed to its up-until-recent position in the calendar year. Until 2019, it occurred in mid-August as the last of the four majors. Now, the tournament has been moved to late May, but the 2020 pandemic pushed that year’s event to early August. So the 2021 event will be only the second to occur in the PGA’s new time slot — presumably.
There is no doubt that Collin Morikawa could successfully defend his PGA Championship from 2020 at Kiawah Island. Morikawa is one of the 10 best golfers in the world and has the champion aura surrounding him.
However, Morikawa secured his 2020 victory, in part, by putting together the greatest final 36 holes in PGA Championship history. If a repeat requires him to shoot 65-64 on the weekend again, it might prove quite difficult to claim the title once more.
To be honest, even a repeat performance might not be enough, given the way that Dustin Johnson is playing right now. There is no finer golfer in the world at the present time than DJ, and he could easily zoom into South Carolina with a new green jacket from the Masters to boot (figuratively — green jackets never leave Augusta National).
There will also be some noise from the other top 10 golfers like Rahm, McIlroy, Thomas and DeChambeau. Any one of those guys could put together a winning set of rounds on Kiawah Island.
Obviously, it’s easy enough to pick one of the players mentioned above as your “horse” and bet on that player to win each major outright. There would be nothing suspect about, say, placing single bets on Dustin Johnson each time, at least on its face.
However, golf is a game of nuance, and our betting should reflect that. With that in mind, you must understand some of the key indicators of success for each event.
The site of the Masters, Augusta National Golf Course, is one of the most celebrated golf courses in the world for its lush, rolling green grass and beautiful azaleas. However, from a golfer’s point of view, it has its own charms and challenges.
Until the end of the 20th century, Augusta’s fairways were known as being fairly wide, inviting and receptive to creative play. However, course designers have attempted to keep up with the increasing length that modern golfers possess by planting extra trees to narrow the fairways and a second cut of thicker rough.
What hasn’t changed is Augusta National’s famously undulating greens that can repel wavering approach shots. Even a normally well-placed iron into one of the dance floors might end up rolling into the first cut.
So, when you’re looking for players to back for the Masters, favor driving accuracy and short game over the length off the tee. Bombing it from the tips is great, but dragons are lurking off either side of the fairway, and top golfers need a soft touch on their second and third shots to get up and down.
The US Open is traditionally the most difficult major to play, and the 2021 event figures to be no exception to that. Armed with 2019 renovations, the South Course at Torrey Pines will demand both length and accuracy from its competitors.
To start with, this year’s US Open figures to be the longest of the four majors. In some configurations, the South Course can stretch to 7,800 yards.
Of course, since it’s the US Open, players will also have to be mindful of the heavy cuts of rough. Torrey Pines is a links course, so players can expect varying wind conditions, too. The club website even mentions the sight of hang gliders and paragliders off its cliffs as possible distractions.
Naturally, you’re going to want to back the most complete golfers in the field. Any glaring deficiencies in games will be discovered at Torrey Pines, so look for players who rank at the top of the lists.
You should probably also favor those with championship wins and experience under their belts. Because the course conditions are so hostile, it will take a mentally tough player — one who can handle the inevitable setbacks during the four rounds — to come out on top.
The Open Championship always comes with its own set of challenges. Notably, as every version of the tournament must occur on a links course, there are always issues with variable weather and wind conditions. Perhaps used to golf as a spring or summer game temperature-wise, American players might find themselves shivering through 72 holes in the UK.
The venue for the 2021 Open Championship, Royal St. George’s Golf Club, comes with its own set of challenges. In fact, the course fell out of favor due to its many blind and semi-blind shots. It has been ten years (2011) since Royal St. George’s has hosted the British Open.
It is also the shortest of the four majors this year and is a true links course. There are few trees and water hazards, but the roll of the hills and wind from the sea more than make up for it.
So, for betting, you might not want to back a long bomber. A more cautious approach, with a willingness to leave the driver in the bag off the tee from time to time, is more likely to be successful. You should also look for someone with a strong short game, as links greens are notoriously quick and could see balls scampering farther than they normally would.
American golf courses are always a mixed bag, even at the championship level. The 2021 PGA Championship is no exception, as its venue — the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort — will lend a decidedly British feel to playing due to its status as a links course.
To be fair, the Ocean Course is more than 600 yards longer than its British Open counterpart, Royal St. George’s. So, in addition to all of the challenges that golfers face with a links course, they will have to navigate a longer set of holes.
The most glaring difficulty on the Ocean Course is its variable wind, however. The approachability of playing 18 at Kiawah Island is directly affected by how much breeze is blowing in from the Atlantic Ocean. It also features holes that slope dramatically, as befitting a links course.
Because of its unpredictability and length, the Ocean Course enjoys some of the highest course and slope ratings in the US. According to the course’s website, there can be as much as an eight-club difference from round to round due to the wind.
So, the golfer(s) who find success here are likely to be long-but-accurate hitters. You’re going to need the right combination of distance and accuracy to stay in the fairways.
In addition, you might want to look for golfers with extensive experience with links golf, like Rory McIlroy, who won the PGA Championship in 2012, the last time it was on the Ocean Course. The winds at Kiawah Island can make the course nigh-unplayable, but with a little luck, the bombers might be able to do some damage.
Few sports are more conducive to betting than golf. The sport seems to bring out the bravado in many players, even if they are not very good. Heck, there’s even an entire type of golf match based on gambling.
The kind of betting that we’re describing, however, is not that. You are unlikely to mistake betting on golf in a sportsbook for the betting that you do with your friends as you approach the tee. Those bets could be considered props, but it’s generally not the same.
Instead, golf betting is much more similar to handicapping in horse racing than anything else. You study the different elements — the players, the course, the recent history — and pick a “horse” to back. Most golf bets have this intrinsic infrastructure underlying them, even if the terms of the bet stray a bit from the concept.
For those who may have only bet on golf when beers at the clubhouse were on the line, here are some of the common types of golf bets you’ll encounter at Iowa sportsbooks:
One thing that you may overlook when you’re watching professional golfers is that, by and large, they are just guys playing golf. They get competitive, they talk trash, they get angry and they like to make bets with one another. They’re simply better at playing golf than everybody else.
Thus, the concept for The Match was born. Two of the most famous golfers ever to play the game, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, would go head-to-head with each other in a match play event for $9 million. The Match, which ended up taking place on Nov. 23, 2018, at Las Vegas’ Shadow Creek Golf Course, also allowed the two players to make side bets with each other and featured trash talking between the two golf greats.
Needless to say, the show was a tremendous success. Mickelson ended up winning after 22 holes of play, and the two bet nearly $2 million in side bets out of their own pockets.
Since then, The Match has returned each year (in 2019 and 2020) and has expanded to allow non-professional golfers to compete. Mickelson has played all three events, and has partnered with Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady and NBA great Charles Barkley in 2019 and 2020. Woods competed in the 2019 event with NFL legend Peyton Manning, who, in turn, partnered with NBA superstar Stephen Curry to take on Mickelson and Barkley.
Based on some Twitter exchanges between golfer Justin Thomas and Barkley, a fourth incarnation of the event seems more likely than not. Mickelson is still interested, and the rumor is that Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes would be the fourth.
If and when the 2021 version of The Match takes place, there will undoubtedly be betting options on Iowa sportsbooks. In addition to the standard golf bets that you’ll be able to make on the duos — to win, group matchups, etc. — you’ll probably be able to join in on the side bets that the golfers propose as live bets. It will allow you to experience a sporting event at a closer level than is usually possible.
The Ryder Cup and the Presidents Cup are basically the same tournament. In both biennial events, a team of golfers from the US competes against a team of players from other countries. The Ryder Cup involves European players, and the Presidents Cup is for everyone else.
The next of these events to occur will be the 2021 Ryder Cup. This tournament was originally scheduled for 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic caused a year’s postponement and pushed the Presidents Cup back into even years. The two events previously switched in 2001 as a result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
The 2021 event is scheduled to take place on Sept. 24-26 at Whistling Straits Golf Course in Wisconsin. The European team currently holds the cup after its convincing seven-point victory in 2018.
Neither of these events has a winner in the traditional sense, so group matchup and head-to-head bets will rule the day when September 2021 rolls around. You’ll also have the ability to place live bets on individual holes during play.
Betting on golf is not confined to the four majors or, for that matter, the PGA itself. Along with the PGA, you can also bet on tours around the world and, occasionally, a prominent lower-tiered tour here in the US.
First, let’s talk about the PGA Tour itself. Each season, the tour plays host to between 20 and 30 tournaments, depending on the weather. Obviously, the four majors are the biggest deal, but not all other PGA events are considered equal, either. Here are the bigger PGA Tour non-major events that you might want to consider:
Along with the PGA, there are several other prominent tours around the world. None is more prestigious than the European Tour, which features players on par with or exceeding the PGA.
The US is also home to the LPGA, the PGA for women. It represents the highest level of play for female golfers.
In addition, golfers over the age of 50 become eligible to compete on the PGA Champions Tour. This tour offers a chance to see past superstars who are, even in advanced age, better golfers than most of us will ever dream of being.
The PGA also maintains a relationship with the Korn Ferry Tour. It is a developmental tour that serves as a training ground for aspiring PGA Tour pros, and it has previously been known as the Web.com Tour, the Nationwide Tour, the Buy.com Tour, the Nike Tour and the Ben Hogan Tour. Korn Ferry Tour alums who have gone on to have successful careers include former World No. 1 Tom Lehman, Masters winner Zach Johnson and up-and-coming star Im Sung-jae.
Other professional tours around the world include:
Not all of these tours will have events that appear on Iowa betting boards. However, it’s good to have an idea about what you’re seeing if you see them mentioned.
Unfortunately, Iowa is not home to any upcoming PGA Tour events in 2021. Although there are some wonderful courses in the Hawkeye State, none of them currently hosts any of the big professional events.
The nearest PGA Tour stop to Iowa is certainly the John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, IL. Silvis is a suburb of Moline, IL, and is across the border from Davenport, IA. Davenport and Bettendorf residents have only fifteen miles across the Mississippi separating them from some of the world’s best golfers. Illinois has sports betting, too, so you might be able to make your bets all the same.
The next big-time event in or around Iowa is a PGA Champions Tour stop. The Principal Charity Classic will occur between May 31 and June 6 in Des Moines. The Wakonda Club will play host to the 50+ event.
You can also watch the US Senior Open Championship on July 5-11 if you feel like driving to Omaha, Nebraska. The Omaha Country Club is about a two-hour drive from Des Moines, so it’s doable, if not a hop, skip and a jump.
Iowa is not a particular hotbed for golfers, but there have been a few notables who have come from the Hawkeye State.
The most famous Iowa golfer has to be Zach Johnson. The Iowa City native and Cedar Rapids product has cemented his place in golf history with two major championships. He won the 2007 Masters and the 2015 Open Championship. The two wins are among 12 PGA Tour victories that he has to his name.
Another Iowa native on the PGA Tour is Troy Merritt. Although he was not raised in Iowa, he was born in Osage in 1985. Merritt has had two PGA Tour wins so far and, at age 35, still has plenty of time to put more on his resume.
Other Iowa golfers who have won PGA Tour events include:
As mentioned earlier, you will have opportunities to bet on LPGA events, too. This tour represents the pinnacle for female golfers and is the counterpart to the PGA itself.
Although LPGA tournaments are not usually as widely known or publicized as their male counterparts, many Iowa sportsbooks will still offer action on them. For certain, the five LPGA majors will be on the slate. They are:
Since sports betting in general is still fairly new in many states, it’s likely that there are still quite a few who are not comfortable with it. Each sport has its own quirks, and golf is no different. Here are a few tips to help you get started with betting on golf.
Though golf has its moments, it is not the cavalcade of sports action that you’ll find with basketball or football. So you may be wondering why you’d bet on golf tournaments when there’s so much more opportunity and excitement elsewhere.
It depends what you mean by “best.” If you’re looking for a simpler bet that cuts out quite a bit of the uncertainty, go with a head-to-head wager. You’re basically betting the moneyline between two golfers. However, if you’re looking to maximize your profit, a value-based “to win” pick might be the way to go. If you can identify which golfers are sitting with overly generous odds, you might be able to get good value for your bet. You won’t win as often, but the amount that you’ll win will (hopefully) compensate you for the times that you don’t.
Yes and no. On the one hand, fewer oddsmakers and sportsbooks give golf their full measure of attention, particularly when it comes to smaller events. This means you can more easily find good odds than you can on, say, NFL games. In that regard, it’s easier. However, golf does not conform to many of the same gameplay patterns as other sports and uses many distinctive types of wagers. This can mean there is a bit of a learning curve to overcome before you’ll feel comfortable betting on golf.
Two-ball and three-ball betting is quite similar to head-to-head betting. You are selecting which of two or three golfers will score the lowest for that round. The biggest difference, however, is that the golfers you’re betting in two-ball or three-ball will be playing together as part of the same group. You’re basically betting which golfer will “win” out of a three-person group on the weekdays or a pair on the weekends.
Betting pools are available in most sports, including golf. They are often a casual way for friends to bet with one another, since they are usually for low amounts and are generally handled outside of a sportsbook or casino. The most common type of golf betting pool is, more or less, fantasy golf. All participants take turns selecting golfers for their rosters and are rewarded or penalized based upon their picks’ results. You can run a pool with just a select group of golfers or the whole field. It is also possible to create golf betting pools around various prop bets, such as estimating the total number of birdies or bogeys that the pros will incur in a round (or tournament).
An “each way” bet is an expanded version of the “to win” bet. Picking which golfers are likely to finish in the top three, top five or top 10 is generally easier than picking the overall winner. Though the payouts on each way bets will be lower, you’ll probably have a much better chance of figuring out who will place highly.
A skins game is a golf match in which the lowest-scoring player on each hole receives an amount of money. If two players tie for the lowest score, the money rolls over onto the next hole. Skins matches can be a great way to keep everyone engaged, since each new hole brings a chance to put money in your pocket.