Betting on Hole in One in Golf

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Betting on Hole in One in GolfBetting on whether there will be a hole in one in a golf tournament has become part of gambling folklore, due to the efforts of two men from Essex in the early 1990’s. Paul Simons and John Carter had worked out that the odds of a hole in one happening at an average golf tournament should be 5/4. However, they were also aware that many of the smaller bookmakers would not do their homework particularly well and might offer much larger odds. The pair would gain odds as high as 100/1 in places and would clean up to the tune of more than £400,000.

This is a prime example that doing your homework when gambling can pay off hugely well. Sadly, the days of receiving odds of 100/1 about a hole in one are now long gone, but the market is a very interesting one still, and some work beforehand including some calculations can still give you an edge here.

When trying to calculate the odds of a hole in one, you have to take into account a number of factors, some of which are more important than others. Here are the main things to consider:

Number of Rounds Played – Many of the events on both the PGA tour and the European tour will feature a field of 156 players. All of these players will play at least two rounds with around half of these players playing at the weekend.  A quick calculation will tell us that you can expect (156+156+78+78) 468 rounds of golf in a week.

Now let’s look at some of the non-standard tournaments.

One of the prime examples of this is the Masters at Augusta. This tournament featured 97 players in 2014 and this was a record for the tournament. 51 players made the cut, so the tournament saw (97+97+51+51) 296 rounds of golf.

The Ryder Cup is one of the most popular tournaments in all of golf, but the amount of golf actually played is tiny in comparison to other events. The Ryder Cup has 28 matches, which means 56 rounds are played – although for 8 of the matches 4 balls are played, so you can move this figure up to 72 rounds. However, because it is a match play tournament, many holes will not actually be played.

Golf Gambling OnlineNumber of Par 3’s – Having worked out how many rounds are played, you’ll next want to consider the number of hole-able par 3’s on a course. Usually this number will be around four, but it can be between three or six.  Additionally, you should look at how difficult it is to score a hole-in-one. Obviously this will change from day to day as the pin position will change, but certain holes will be easier than others, especially if the slope feeds the ball down to the hole (an obvious example of this is the 16th hole at Augusta on Masters Sunday).

Quality of Players – This is another important consideration, as the better the quality of the field, the more times you’d expect the ball to go close. However a hole in one does require a great amount of luck as well, so this is the perhaps the least important consideration especially when you consider that there are many professional golf players who have never had an Ace, and many weekend hackers who have.

Hole in One Betting - Odds Calculations

Now we come to the important part of the article! How do we go about working out the odds of a hole in one happening at a tournament?

Well we know that a standard tournament will have 468 rounds of golf, and on average will feature four par 4’s, meaning there are 1872 opportunities for an Ace.  We also know that the odds of this happening at a standard tournament are 5/4, meaning there is a 44% chance.

Now look at the upcoming tournament. Firstly work out the amount of rounds will be played and also the number of hole in one chances. Having done this, consider the difficulty of the par 3’s and the quality of the field. If the par 3’s are easier than normal, or the field is of high quality, then I would add a percentage to the hole in one chances to reflect this. If they are more difficult, or it is a low quality field, I would take a percentage away from the hole in one chances to reflect this.

Now compare how many chances there will be in this tournament in comparison to the standard tournament.

If you consider there are 936 chances for example, that would be exactly half of what you’d expect at the standard tournament, meaning you’d have a 22% (half of 44%) chance of a hole in one. 22% would equate to true odds of 7/2 (4.5 in decimal odds). So, if you can gain better odds than 7/2 for this tournament, you’ll be receiving value.

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