The last decade has seen a large increase in trading across a variety of sports. Trading on golf has become a popular and lucrative field in the industry.
As in most sports, there are many different markets to trade within. Generally, the market with the most volume or liquidity is the ‘win market’ or ‘win book’ where players bet on the overall winner of the tournament. Other popular markets include betting on players to make the Top 5 or Top 10 in a tournament, individual match bets between two players, and betting on groups of players, such as highest finishing American or European in the tournament.
Companies employ traders to monitor the market in golf as they would do in, for example, football. Statistical programmers are employed to create complex programmes to analyse the markets using historical data and statistical algorithms. Ratings for each golfer are calculated based on their scoring in past years with more emphasis on recent tournaments. These ratings are used to determine, for example, the probability of each player winning the tournament or the probability of each player finishing inside the Top 5. These internally composed probabilities are then compared to those of online betting websites. The trader will take lay bets for prices they believe to be too short and will back players at prices they believe to be too high. The trader will have a position on each player in each market that they have matched bets, which is the amount they are liable to win or lose.
Golf traders will have a position on each player before the tournament goes ‘in-running’ or ‘live’. When ‘in-running’, players market values fluctuate depending on every shot. The Golf traders continue to take bets if their calculated ‘true value’ for a player is skewed from the online market value available to the public. The more efficient or sophisticated the statistical programme is for calculating ratings, the higher the probability of the trader winning long-term.
Golf traders make numerous bets throughout the tournament, some of which will be losing bets, but ideally these will be outweighed by the winning bets. If the trader gets into a situation where there are very few players which will win money, he may feel he needs to trade out of his current position. He will then lay a player who is a high winner to shorten the losses for every other player and hopefully in turn create more winners in the field.