Betting pools are a popular pastime for sports fans around the world, and golf is no exception. However, given the structure of stroke-play tournaments, golf betting pools can get a little complicated. We've compiled our suggestions for the best formats (and how they work) so you can get your office pool going in time for the next Tour event.
In a Calcutta pool, each bettor participates in an auction to "buy" the players in the field they think have a good chance at winning the event. You could try to buy a lesser-known player with a small amount of money or compete to buy the rights to one of the better players for a larger sum. All the money raised through the auction goes into one general pool, with the payouts pre-determined based on where each bettor finishes (i.e. winner gets 70%, runner-up 20%; or it can be winner-take-all if you want to create more drama in the office).
A fun twist on the standard format is to choose one golfer in the field and bet on what score that player will make in a specific round or tournament (Tiger's return at the 2017 Hero World Challenge would be a great option for this). Whoever wins the rights to the winning score through the auction gets the cash.
In a tiered draft, the participants agree on different tiers of players based on skill level/odds to win. Each bettor then chooses a pre-determined number of players from each tier (six golfers per team works well). Whoever has the eventual winner on their team wins the pool. The number of tiers used is up to the participants, with the minimum number being two.
If the thrill of the unknown excites you and your golfing buddies more than proving who knows the PGA Tour best, a Raffle pool might be your ideal format. Just place the golfers' names into a hat and randomly select an equal number per bettor. Whoever's team performs best wins the dough.
A wildly popular form of online betting for other sports (football in particular), prop bets can be just as fun with golf. The best part is that the options are infinite. You can do any number of obvious prop bets (who will record the first double bogey; how many balls will Jordan Spieth splash on Augusta's 12th), or choose more creative bets (how long before "mashed potatoes" is yelled on the TV broadcast).
Team Combo Challenge
A twist on the tiered draft, each bettor takes turns choosing golfers until each has a team of a pre-determined size (four to six players is best). At the end of the event, each bettor combines the total scores of their golfers, and whichever team has the lowest combined score wins.
You can alter the rules so that each bettor's worst two golfers are dropped from the final score. Any team that has more than two golfers miss the cut is penalized.
While the 2016-17 season is in our collective rearview, the 2017-18 season has already begun, so there are plenty of opportunities to take your friends' money this winter.