Betting On Golf: Understanding The Significance Of Rankings

Are they useful for betting purposes or not really that important?

In some sports like tennis and or college basketball, rankings are very important. They give you a clear-cut idea of how good the team or player is. In golf, the rankings don’t hold that type of significance.

The World Golf Rankings are constantly being updated with players moving up and down the list of the top-300 in the world. While it’s easy to look up the official rankings and see where your favorite players are on the list, the actual process of how those rankings are determined is a lot more difficult to understand.

Let’s take a look at how golf rankings are calculated and talk about the significance of what they mean for betting.

What Is The “Money List” & Why Is Tracking It Flawed?

The Money List isn’t as important at it once was but it is still an interesting statistic to track. If you keep track of the amount of official prize money that a golfer earns throughout the year then you should have a pretty good idea of how they have performed. It wasn’t that long ago that the money list determined who kept and lost their PGA Tour cards. While that has changed over the years, we could still use the money list for more than just to be amazed by how much prize winnings Dustin Johnson takes home every single year.

The flaw with this is you could have a player come in from time to time (like Tiger Woods), play well at a few events and then be off for chunks of time. You could also have someone who plays every single week and while he doesn’t win, he finishes in the Top 15 consistently and keeps adding to his bank.

Money isn’t a foolproof tell of how good a golfer has been performing.

The FedEx Cup

The FedEx Cup serves as the postseason system for the PGA Tour. Players do absolutely everything they can do to get there, in order to earn a shot at netting the grand prize of $10 million. The big money, big prize endgame is appealing for obvious reasons but the FedEx Cup list is still an arbitrary points system. Players will do their best to win or place well at PGA Tour events with the 125 players that post the best point totals headed to the playoffs. The FedEx Cup playoff events include The Northern Trust, the Dell Technologies Championship, the BMW Championship and the Tour Championship, which are worth about four times as many points as regular events.

The PGA Tour uses each of those four playoff events to narrow the field even further.  By the time the season winds down, only the top 30 players with the most points in these rankings will compete in the FedEx Cup. While the FedEx Cup points system can be extremely complicated it isn’t exactly the best gauge of quality. At the same time, like the money list the FedEx Cup points system is another measure by which we could get an idea of what to expect of players competing at the highest level.

Official World Golf Rankings

While they may be just as arbitrary as any of the other rankings systems, the Official World Golf Rankings are exactly that – official. For that reason, it’s important to know how they work. The PGA Tour and the European Tour are separate organizations so it can be difficult to understand how the players from each tour compare to one another. In order to make it work, the Open and the Masters needed a world ranking system that could help them better decide which players should be invited and which players should not be.

Back in 1968, there was something called the “McCormack Rankings”, which were compiled for entertainment purposes. Fast forward to 1986, and the R&A adopted that system and called it the Sony Rankings. Then in 1995, all the world’s major tours endorsed the system and it became known as the Official World Golf Rankings. However, the Official World Golf Rankings are still far from a perfect system. The fact that they are calculated over a two-year period means that a lot can change. A golfer can go on an extended run in which they are clearly the best player in the world for six or eight months and yet still they won’t be able to find their way to the No. 1 ranking. While the Official World Golf Rankings do favor recent results, the fact that they are tracked over a two-year period means that older results take a much longer time to fade out of consideration.

Sagarin Rankings

The final system that we will look at is the Sagarin Rankings, which are computed differently than the Official World Golf Rankings and provide a much more accurate reflection of recent performances. A big part of that is the fact that the Sagarin Rankings are based on a one-year cycle, which makes them a better indicator of current player form.

The shorter time scale makes the ranking more accurate. Additionally, at the end of every competitive round each golfer is assigned a win or a loss against all the other golfers in the field. By keeping track of the Sagarin Rankings, we can get a pretty good idea of what to expect in upcoming events.

Golf Rankings & Sports Betting

For the most part, golf rankings are not a significant factor for sports bettors. It’s something you take a peek at but it’s not something that you’ll base your strategy around. For example, the No. 1 team in college football or college basketball is an elite team. The No. 1 player in golf could be a very good player who has accrued a lot of points and good finishes, but isn’t necessarily the best player in the world. A great example of that is Bryson DeChambeau, who ended the 2018 season with the most ranking points. He had just three wins that year. That’s not bad but it’s not as dominant as the No. 1 ranking makes him seem.

Also keep in mind that someone like Tiger Woods doesn’t play that many events anymore, so it’s tough for him to rank highly. However, he’ll still be a serious factor each tournament he plays. That’s a couple of reasons why golf rankings aren’t all-important.

Examining Stats Is The Key To Success

In addition to the actual different kinds of golf rankings, there is also a wide range of important golf statistics that you should keep track of when making sports betting predictions. Those stats include Strokes Gained, Driving Distance and Greens In Regulation. Strokes Gained measures how many strokes a golfer gains on the field with birdies or eagles in different categories, whether it’s on approach shorts or putting. Driving Distance is simple, measuring how far golfers are hitting the ball off the tee.

3 Golf Stats To Track When Betting On Golf Events

  1. Driving Distance isn’t the absolute most important stat to cover, it does allow us to understand how hard golfers are hitting the ball, which helps in terms of eliminating space when it comes to their approaches.
  2. Greens In Regulation is important, but only if you understand how it works. Greens In Regulation measures performance based on where the ball lies, but the stat can be deceiving. For example, if a putt is taken from relatively close to the hole but it’s on the fridge, it’s not considered a putt. Tracking GIR can be effective but it shouldn’t be relied on solely by itself.
  3. Driving Accuracy is an absolutely critical statistic to track for obvious reasons. It doesn’t matter how far the golfer is hitting the ball if it isn’t on point. If you can track these important statistics, in addition to keeping an eye on the different golf rankings, it can go a long way towards improving your bottom line when it comes to betting on the golf.

Check out also “4 Important Tips For Betting On Golf” and “Common Mistakes Betting Golf“.

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