Golf Finishing Position Betting Explained: How Top 5/10/20 Bets Work

Golf Finishing Position Betting Explained: How Top 5/10/20 Bets Work article feature image
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Justin Thomas plays a shot from a bunker on the 18th hole during the third round of the Masters on Saturday at Augusta National Golf Club. Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images.

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Finishing Position Betting Definition

In golf, there are a number of ways to wager. The most common bet is to make a selection on a player to win the tournament. You can also bet on matchups, meaning you are betting on one player to score better than another player in a round or tournament, or you can make the same wager on a three-ball (three player) situation. The list goes on and on.

Another mainstream way to bet on golf is to make a bet on a player to finish in a certain position among the field. There are a number of positions you can bet on the player to make, including finishing in the top 5, top 10 or top 20.

This means that for your bet to cash, a player must break the position that you set for them. If you wagered on a player to make the top 5, a top 5 finish is required to win the bet. Simple enough.

There are also books where you can bet on golfers to miss a finishing position. If you wager on a player to miss the top 5, they must finish in solo sixth place or worse for you to cash the bet.

Dead Heat Explanation

An important caveat to note with finishing position betting is that dead heat rules apply. Rather than a tournament winner, where there can only be one, more than 5 players can make the top 5 due to ties, more than 10 players can make the top 10 and so forth. A full explanation can be found here, but the following is an abbreviated one.

Unfortunately, it’s rare to see situations where sportsbooks pay out tying position finishes in full, but they are out there. BetMGM is the only sportsbook we can find that pays out ties in full and doesn’t use dead heat rules.

PointsBet cuts the odds but most books cut the stake. In almost all situations, it would be preferable for the odds to be cut rather than the stake, because it is going to offer the bettor a higher payout.

For example, imagine you made a $100 wager on Justin Thomas to make the top 5 of The Masters at +400. If Thomas finished in a T-5 position with 2 other players, dead heat rules would be different based on cutting the stake or odds.

A stake-cutting situation (most common) would provide the following outcome:

Bet stake Odds Total Return (Including Stake)
Pre-tournament: $100 +400 $500
Post-tournament: $33 +400 $167

An odds-cutting situation would provide the following outcome:

Bet stake Odds Total Return (Including Stake)
Pre-tournament: $100 +400 $500
Post-tournament: $100 +133 $233

Finishing Position Betting Examples and Statistics 

This type of wagering on golf can be much more appealing to some bettors as the chances of winning your bet are much higher. Of course, the odds will not be as long, and they are subject to dead heat rules in many scenarios, but a player finishing in worse positions than first and cashing has attraction to many bettors.

In the 2021 PGA season, Jon Rahm led the tour in top 10 finishes with 10, while Bryson Dechambeau, Abraham Ancer, Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth all had 9. The players combined for 6 wins on the season.

For the 2021 PGA Championship, the odds for top 10 payouts versus winning position payouts on a $100 wager are listed below. A bet on Mickelson at 300-1 would have been nice, but a payout at 18-1 wouldn’t have been bad, and is far more common to experience.

In this scenario, 16 players qualified for top-10 betting scoring, which is a high number caused by the log jam in the 8th position. The highest payout on a top 10 bet would have been Padraig Harrington while only Jon Rahm would have provided a net loss.

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