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A popular axiom or saying for many generations has been a “friendly wager” on a round of golf. Translated that might mean a small or casual bet between two gentlemen commencing before eighteen holes on the links. That hardly describes the most recent and continuing news involving wagering and the PGA fully embracing US efforts advancing legalized sports betting.
With its signature event The Masters at Augusta, Georgia approaching this weekend, besides the NBA, the PGA might be leading the way as the most aggressive sport seeking ways getting involved with creative new opportunities.
Perhaps not surprising, is how the PGA and golf have increasingly jumped into the limelight potentially beyond US team sports advancing wagering the past two years. They wisely recognized stodgy golf needed a boost or thought the cellphone addicted younger generation might connect through betting to increase overall awareness. Without dispute, the PGA has entered some interesting connections lately to affirm they are on course.
Last week DraftKings Sportsbook announced an exclusive, multi-year relationship with rising star Bryson DeChambeau, who will become the first active professional golfer to represent the gaming company via an integrated brand, content, marketing, and VIP-centric partnership. Plans call for DeChambeau as the identifiable “face of DraftKings golf”.
DeChambeau is currently ranked No. 6 in the Official World Golf Rankings and is coming off his first major championship at the US Open in September. Beginning with this year’s Masters, the DraftKings logo will be featured on DeChambeau’s signature golf cap.
Jason Robins, co-founder, and CEO, DraftKings, commented:
Professional golf has been a key growth sport in both daily fantasy and sports betting, and our collaboration with Bryson DeChambeau is a notable new layer of mainstream brand exposure and fan experience. As one of golf’s most promising athletes and the current US Open champion, DraftKings is strategically aligning with winning athletes like Bryson who embody and embolden the competitive fire of our customers.
While commenting on his new role with the company, DeChambeau said:
DraftKings has been at the forefront of innovation for how people experience golf, and the company continues to modernize the game through technology built by and for sports fans. The gaming industry has already helped golf reach broader audiences, and I am proud to work with DraftKings on boosting fan excitement and engagement in the game.
Due to rescheduling involving Covid-19 the Masters has delayed its usual April calendar appearance and has moved to November for the first time in history. In conjunction with NFL football timing, DraftKings is offering bettors a $100,000 free-to-play pool involving both sports. A first for the company and probably a preview of more to come involving golf in 2020 and perhaps 2021 as well.
The Masters is golf’s most prestigious and highest-rated event of the year. Among “grand slam” tournaments, the signature weekend that receives the most focus and highest ratings.
It added a record-breaking boost in 2019 when Tiger Woods accomplished his memorable comeback to win his first major in several years. Though likely taking shorter than deserved odds, the story of how one bettor took down $1.2 million from William Hill in Las Vegas made headlines throughout the world. It not only alerted the average guy that golf was available to bet on, but lottery-type riches were potentially possible for any lucky guy to capture.
Stories like this would not have existed pre-PASPA (the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act) reversal. It was subsequently followed up by the same fellow making news wagering $100,000 again on Tiger at the PGA Championship. William Hill was more than happy offering him reduced super-square odds to recapture some of their funds. A publicized lesson learned for bettors to not push their luck.
Perhaps no sport has welcomed new sports wagering options more than PGA golf. Gone is the period of waiting around four endless days for the eventual winner of a tournament for one lonely bet.
With several “in-game wagering” choices available at most top sportsbooks including DraftKings Sportsbook, FanDuel, BetMGM, and others, bettors have a variety of potential choices to decide upon and now new software to help reinforce their strategic decisions.
One of the initiatives is a new and improved version of the ShotLink Plus data system. The platform collects and disseminates golf scores and statistical data on every shot in real-time, to enhance the in-game betting experience. Because of the improvements, sports bettors can make multiple wagers on prop bets during golfing rounds, offering more gambling options.
ShotLink claims the potential to allow a fan to be well-informed about how a specific player plays on a certain golf course, how a player plays in certain tournaments (e.g. The Masters), how a player plays in certain conditions.
In conjunction with their recent reintroduction the company announced, “a new integrity and monitoring program has been built into the internal structure of the PGA over the past couple of years in order to try and prevent match-fixing”. Maybe a moot endeavor, as golf has never seen a level of tampering internationally equivalent to tennis and ironically wagering-popular NBA basketball.
We must give the PGA credit for their aggressive stance embracing the US legislative change to promote legalized wagering. They haven’t (yet) demanded any specified “integrity fee’ nor bullied their way to provide data as a tax.
Software like ShotLink could be the beginning of other types of programs for sports, enabling bettors to make more confident wagering decisions. They might be easily found on our computers, or as apps on our phones. My concern is we will be spending so much time crunching data and doing betting analysis, we will not have much time left to pick up our heads to watch and enjoy the games. Especially crucial in golf. Rule One: keep your head down and eye on the ball.
For more on The Masters, take a look at our latest Wise Kracks episode with special guest, The Masters caddie Cayce Kerr.
Larry Gibbs is both a seasoned journalist and a respected online gaming industry consultant. His wry commentary & sharp analysis have appeared in numerous top gaming and sports wagering publications. He has also served as Vice President of US Gaming Services, a marketing research organization with 15 years of experience in US online wagering. He has spoken at noted gaming industry conferences including G2E, GiGSE, and NCLGS.
Email: [email protected]
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