Jun 28, 2022
Jun 28, 2022

Wind effect on performance in golf betting

How does wind affect golf betting?

The effect of wind on a golfer's performance

The Open Championship 2022 betting

The impact of wind on a golf tournament

Wind effect on performance in golf betting

There are many variables at play when it comes to finding an edge in golf betting. One of the biggest and most underrated factors in player performance is the strength of the wind and how much damage it will do to a player’s scoring averages. So does wind really affect how you should bet on golf? Read on to find out.

The tournament draw for the golfers can also have a great impact on expected positions and scoring at the end of each day's play. However, this is something you might already know if you're serious about betting on golf, given that you would watch a lot of it and probably play a bit too at a decent level. But how much do you think about the weather and its impact?

For my recently published golf betting book "Angles and Edges", I conducted an in-depth study and collation of the relative data on the effect wind has on players' scores, and I have reached a definitive conclusion: For every one mile per hour increase in wind speed, the scoring average goes up by 0.1 strokes per round in elite professional golf.

For every 1mph increase in wind speed, the scoring average increases by 0.1 strokes per round.

Scoring averages were recorded from morning waves versus afternoon waves in tournaments throughout a full golf betting season and the correlating wind speeds and changes were tracked throughout the day. I made notes of the different types of courses and set-ups and studied the differences in playing conditions.

The rule above applies to normal wind conditions between around 5mph and 25mph. For example,we can expect to see around two strokes difference between a day with a 5mph wind speed versus a day with a 25mph wind speed.

At Sherwood CC, for the Zozo Championship in 2020, there was a difference of two strokes between day one, when the wind was approximately 20mph, and day two, which was a much more calmer day.  It was a similar story at Shadow Creek, also in 2020, for the CJ Cup, with a scoring average of 70.7 on day two versus 72.7 one day one, with an equal change in the wind there.

Outliers will exist when wind speeds get unusually high or on courses with when errant shots are more frequent. For example, we may see an even higher scoring disparity between benign days and very blustery days on links courses. When playing on a links course, the biggest danger is the wind because it brings all sorts of trouble, including directing the ball into the thick fescues and gorse, and poor shots are accentuated.

Wind as a factor in golf betting angles

We can unearth some great golf betting angles using wind strength as a key variable.

Live golf betting is becoming more popular and many bookmakers are offering in-play golf prop bets, and sometimes they can misprice the markets considerably as there is little quantitative data to go on. We've seen recent examples of this, which are outlined below.

Bryson DeChambeau, Ryder Cup 2021 at Whistling Straits

DeChambeau was playing with Patrick Cantlay in a four-ball when they reached a par five, playing strongly downwind. The big-hitter was able to go directly over a pond cutting the corner, essentially turning the hole into a par 4.The others couldn't take his line.

"I knew if it was playing down wind, I could take a unique line, and it was today - it was blowing over 20mph" - Bryson DeChambeau

The wind was the only reason Bryson and his power hitting could go this route. Live betting bookmaker odds on winning the hole will not be adjusted for these types of subjective variables, and backing DeChambeau or partner Cantlay to win this hole in-play was a great value bet that came in.

Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill

At Bay Hill, we saw a mispriced prop bet offering odds on a bogey on hole number one in-play for different players on the final day of the tournament. The odds were based on the stats from the tournament so far, with one bogey in four being a good rule of thumb. However, on the final day the playing conditions were much tougher with very high winds. A bogey was now nearly twice as likely as the odds implied on this hole. Around half the field failed to make par or better.

First Round Leader golf betting angle

The First Round Leader markets or individual Round Leader markets in general are great markets to bet on when there is forecast to be a sizable wind differential between the morning and afternoon waves in a PGA Tour or DP World Tour golf tournament.

It's common to see something like -6-5-5-4-4-4-4-3-3-3-3-3 and-5-4-4-3-3-3-3-2-2-2-2 as the scoring from each half of the field. This is with a wind speed increase of about 10mph from morning to afternoon tee times. We can note that the median score is a stroke worse on the leaderboard for the players starting in the afternoon wave and often this is the case.

This scenario leads to over 70% of the places in the First Round Leader markets being occupied by the morning starters on average throughout the golf betting season on both the DP World Tour and the PGA Tour. It’s normal or common for the wind to get up in the afternoon on both sides of the Atlantic, and once the wind gets up, the greens and conditions get faster and firmer which is the basis for tougher golf. It's hard to get close to pins and trouble will come more in to play.

As above, my studies and data collated have proven that on average over the course of the golf betting season there is almost a full stroke in difference between the morning and afternoon waves when we take outliers (really adverse weather conditions) out of play.

One stroke over around in elite professional golf and betting on golf is huge. It's the difference between cashing in and not getting a return when you bet on the First Round Leader Win and Place markets. On average, we are looking at around a 7-8mph wind speed increase from morning to afternoon sessions, and this translates to an approximate scoring average differential of 0.75 strokes a round.

We should wait until as close to tee off as possible if looking to play this angle in a market like the First Round Leader market and check the weather forecast close to the time. The windier it gets in golf, the more random the tournament results will be.

How much impact will wind have over a golf tournament?

On the European Tour in Wales during the COVID-affected period in 2020, we probably saw the best example of measuring the effect of wind on performance in golf. The Celtic Classic and Wales Open were played in back-to-back weeks at Celtic Manor Resort. The fields and playing conditions were the same - the rough was down and the ground was soft.

Only one variable wasn't constant - the wind. Week one saw benign conditions whereas week two saw consistent 20-25mph winds which made the course a little drier and firmer. Here are the two leaderboards:

Celtic Classic in week1

  • Sam Horsfield 676468 67 (266)
  • Tom Detry 67666867 (268)
  • Thomas Pieters 64687067 (269)
  • Andrew Johnston 6766 6868 (269)
  • ConnorSyme 68676371 (269)

Wales Open in week 2

  • Romain Langasque 71687265 (276)
  • Sami Valimaki 70726769 (278)
  • Matthew Jordan 697272 66 (279)
  • David Dixon 70707168 (279)
  • James Morrison 73726669 (280)

As we can see, the scoring was a whole 10 shots better in the first week or 2.5 shots per round, which would correlate nicely to the 0.1 stroke per one mile/hour wind speed rule I mentioned earlier. The median scoring for the individual rounds in the higher echelons of the leaderboard in week one was approximately two strokes lower.

Open Championship betting: How will wind affect the major?

At a major golf betting tournament like the Open Championship, it can pay to watch the forecast and take advantage of the wind and the draw. In the UK, the wind tends to die down again after 5.30 pm and at the Open Championship, there are some later tee times than usual.

 Wind can often be the biggest obstacle at the St. Andrews course.. 

An example of this is when JB Holmes was occupying one of these later tee time slots while at a big price of 200/1 in the First Round Leader market in 2019 at Royal Portrush. The wind had completely subsided for most of his round and as a player capable of going low, he gained the first round lead in much easier conditions than most of the field faced.

At St. Andrews in 2010, one side of the field was all but eliminated by a bad draw. Rory McIlroy shot 63 in his first round only to fall to an 80 in terrible weather on the Friday afternoon. Wind can often be the biggest obstacle at the St. Andrews course.

The afternoon starters on Friday had a big disadvantage and many household names missed the cut. It took some players 7.5 hours to complete play with a delay to their rounds as winds hit over 40mph at times. Louis Oosthuizen won the event by a 7-stroke margin, having played from the good side of the draw.

In 2015, again at St.Andrews, there was another delay due to high winds and balls rolling on greens. This led to a Monday finish where Zach Johnson triumphed in a playoff. Who did he beat? Louis Oosthuizen, who excels at a breezy St. Andrews, alongside fellow wind specialist Marc Leishman. A trend developing, perhaps?

Do certain types of players perform better in the wind?

You better believe it. Louis Oosthuizen and Marc Leishman appearing on these Open Championship leaderboards is no coincidence. Marc Leishman grew up learning his golf on the Australian sand belt courses, which are exposed tracks with fast, firm, and undulating conditions, often with heavy breezes affecting the flight and roll of the ball. South Africa, where Louis Oosthuizen hails from, isn't too dissimilar in terms of windy conditions and the need for flighting and shaping the ball. You'll note when watching those guys play how smooth and easy it all seems.

It can pay to target players of this ilk for the Open Championship and other tournaments that are renowned for being wind-affected events. An individual golfer’s ability to play in the wind will likely not be factored into their odds. Consider that players from the UK and Ireland who grew up on links courses can have a big advantage on most Americans who play their golf through the air rather than manoeuvre shots around under the breeze. Shane Lowry is probably the best of the lot in links golf and windy conditions, and he proved it by winning the Open Championship at Royal Portrush, blitzing the field. Can he do it again at the home of golf?

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