Society seems to have a love-hate relationship with golf – as in, you either love it or you hate it. Here at Hello Punter we love it, and no matter what group you sit in you can still enjoy a punt, right? Below we’ll outline the key points about the sport.
There are numerous arguments as to where, why and how golf started – and not enough room or time here to go through them all. Our favourite tale, however, starts us off in the midst of the Ming Dynasty, where a 1368 parchment known as ‘The Autumn Banquet’ depicts a man swinging a club at a ball, aiming at what appears to be a golf hole.
From the Chinese courts the game supposedly found its way to Europe in the Middle Ages, known as various sports before becoming the modern golf that we know. And what a joy it has become!
So then, about golf: the game is played individually (normally – though we’ll get to that below) over 18 holes. Basically – in case you’re unsure – the aim is to get the ball in the hole in as few hits as possible.
Players start off each hole by teeing off from two markers signing the start. From here, the aim is to play through the fairway directly to the green. Now, the green is the section at the end of each hole containing the physical hole, and is often defended valiantly by hazards like sandpits and lakes. Add in slopes, bending fairways and rough patches and you have the various elements – along with length – that affect the difficulty of a hole.
There are of course plenty of rules, but the primary law to be abided by is listed on the back page of the official rule book: Play the ball as it lies, play the course as you find it, and if you cannot do either, do what is fair.
On top of this come technicalities, such as Par (how many hits it’s expected a hole should take) which varies from three to five, and an individual’s Handicap, which can get pretty complicated for the uninitiated.
Regarding the former, there are certain names for achievements under par. For example, if the hole is a par-4, and you complete it in three shots, it’s called a birdie. Two shots under par, meanwhile, is an Eagle and a hole-in-one would be an Albatross.
For Handicaps, we’re referring to an amateur’s numerical measure of ability. The lower their score, the closer they would get to achieving the Par on a full course. However, this is unlikely to arise in the betting world so we’ll leave it at that.
There are an amazing amount of golf courses in the world – around 3,000 in the UK and closer to 20,000 in the States – but only some of these would qualify for professional, tour competitions. Professional golf’s circuit is arranged by certain tournaments or tours as opposed to domestic or international leagues like other sports.
Currently about twenty are in existence, though gaining access is not easy. The most well known tour is run by the Professional Golfers Association (PGA), but there are also the four Majors (a bit like tennis) and the four World Golf Championship events.
The four Majors (not run by the PGA) include the Masters (April each year), the US Open (June), The Open Championship (July) and the PGA (of America) Championship (also July). On top of this there is the Ryder Cup if you want to be involved with the team/patriotism side of things!
The Masters is unlike other tournaments in that it is at the same location each year – Augusta National Golf Club. This private course in Georgia is a thing of beauty, and throws up surprises every year with a number of killer holes.
The Ryder Cup, meanwhile, is a biennial event competed between teams from Europe and the United States. The first one was held in 1927, and the occasion has gone on to become a hard-fought and widely watched affair. The way teams are picked by the two adversaries has varied, but now is normally done via performance and captain’s picks.
The LGPA is the women’s version of events, though this is less centralised and does find it harder to be officially recognised across the sport. Nevertheless, it is responsible for the primary tournaments in women’s golf – ANA Inspiration, Women’s PGA Championship, US Women’s Open, Ricoh Women’s British Open and The Evian Championship.
In golf, as in most sports, it’s critical to focus on how one player’s strengths, and weaknesses, will affect play on any given occasion. You can find more on our betting pages, but key things to look for are Driving Accuracy, Driving Distance, Putting Average and Scrambling (when a player hits par or better on a hole after not making it to the green in regulation shots).
Another thing worth considering is the event itself and how this can change your approach and focus. For example, if you’re betting on the U.S. Open you need to bear in mind that the design of the course favours accurate drivers of the ball, where some other courses are leant towards putters. Of course, it’s probably best to bet on someone who’s good at both of those.