Trading the Open Golf

19/07/2017 | By | Reply More

The British Open is different from other majors in that it is played on rotation schedule across a number of ‘links’ courses in the UK. Links courses are traditionally near the sea, are near or on dunes, have an uneven surface and a sandy soil. This is in stark contrast to a lot of ‘modern’ courses which are often set in parkland or woods and carefully manicured.

How ‘links’ golf differs

Links golf is very different from traditional golf in that it’s a bit harder to play consistently, especially if the weather is poor. Major championships will see the course set up for greater difficulty and poor weather can make things even harder. Links courses are best played by hitting the ball low and accurately. Being able to belt the ball a long distance isn’t so important. It’s a real test of your playing abilities, especially if you end up in the rough.

Picking a winning trade

Golf is a game of confidence as much as anything, so players who are playing well tend to carry that form forward. But that said, US based players tend to suffer with the long trip to Scotland. US Golfers are also not used to playing links golf as well. But players who arrive early and play in local tournaments tend to perform better.

This year’s tournament is one of the most competitive I’ve seen for a few years, so a winner from further down the field is perfectly possible. With 150+ selections in the field, I tend to not focus on who will win, that’s an incredibly hard thing to do. It’s pretty obvious that it’s quite easy to find a winning lay. That will work, but it also carries a lot of potential liability at the prices you need to lay at.

Therefore, I tend to pick through players that I think will be in contention or big movers at some point in the tournament and back a selection of them. If you use the dutching tool in Bet Angel this means you can do this to a fixed liability. Out of that group you will very often find somebody who performs well and shortens up significantly which will most likely generate a profit if you are trading. If you catch a cluster of decent selections at large prices, when the price shortens, you can trade out of a profit or leave a bit on them for the title.

Course set up

The difficult course set up will also provide opportunities. The leader after round once has historically only won the title 10% of the time. The leader in round two and three, 26% and 46% of the time.

As we get towards the business end of the tournament, turn your focus to the front of the field. Dutching the front of field within a certain number of shots of the leader has generally been a value bet. We looked back all the way to 1957 and nobody has won the Open after being more than six shots from lead after end of the third round. Even if you narrow that to three shots from the lead you still find a winner 83% of the time.

With improving weather conditions likely, that should hold true. Keep your eye on the weather over the tournament.


One of the problems with Golf is that early start in the morning. It will be around 06:30 for the Open. That prevents most people getting up early to stick a position on. That more or less includes me. I wasn’t sure though if I was missing out so I’ve collect data over the last few years to find out.

Volumes tend to start perking up the day before the Open starts, today. Then then rise in a fairly steady manner for the remainder of the day. In the evening of the Wednesday it seems everybody is active but as we head past midnight activity completely dies away. At about six o’clock you get another burst. But aside from that burst about 95% of pre-off volume is in the market by about 1am in the morning. There isn’t a great need to get up early 🙂

The graph I have produced below shows you the general trend for volume right through to the start of the tournament. The percentage represents the amount matched to the total at the start of the tournament.

I know how I’ll use this information, hopefully it will be of use to you to. 

Open Golf Volume

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Category: Trading strategies

About the Author ()

I left a good job in the consumer technology industry to go a trade on Betfair for a living way back in June 2000. I've been here ever since pushing very boundaries of what's possible on betting exchanges and loved every minute of it.

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