The US PGA Championship is the final golf Major of the year and more difficult to analyse compared to the other three Majors. Couple this with dramatic course changes at Quail Hollow - this year’s host course - there could be a number of trading opportunities as the event unfolds. This US PGA Championship golf trading strategy gives you vital information to assist your decision making.
So why is the US PGA Championship the hardest of the four majors to analyse? Primarily because of a lack of statistical data.
We know the first Major of the year - The Masters - is staged at the same venue every year, The Open is always played on a links course, while the US Open is played on courses where par is thought to be a very good score over four days of golf - this year’s event at Erin Hills was an outlier.
Unlike the other three Majors, the US PGA Championship can’t be categorised in the same manner, hence a lack of relevant historical data - this does, however, create trading opportunities for bettors. With this said, this year gives bettors a slight advantage with Quail Hollow being the first major venue since Congressional in 2011 to be a regular PGA Tour host course.
Learn how to trade on golf
Trading golf is a great strategy to counteract the variance of the sport and profit from the substantial odds on offer - learn how to trade golf.
Instead of trying to pick a winner, when trading golf markets you can either hedge your backed bets, by laying - learn how to lay a bet here - a bet on the same outcome, or vice versa, by laying and then backing a selection. Both strategies allow you to:
- Guarantee profit whatever the outcome of an event
- Reduce your risk and potential losses
Essentially, when trading golf markets you want to back at high prices and lay at low odds.
Quail Hollow course details
Quail Hollow is long, demanding and has recently evolved. The makeover sees the course turn from a 7,575-yard Par 72, to a 7,600-yard par 71 - with three holes being completely rebuilt.
Holes 6-18 are essentially the same, albeit with 36 yards added on the par 4 11th. However, the first five holes have been significantly modified. The old opening two-holes have been combined to produce a fierce 524-yard opening par 4. Holes two and three are the old three and four, while two new holes for four and five have been erected - as a consequence the 5th has been shortened from a par 5 570-yard hole to a 450-yard par 4.
These changes are expected to make Quail Hollow more of a challenge and makes it the longest par-71 since the 2008 US Open at Torrey Pines.
The change of grass - the organisers have replaced all of its greens from the all-bent Ryegrass to Bermuda - could be significant, and bettors should consider how this will affect the players.
Players are used to playing on greens with Ryegrass, which is traditionally a sticky compound, allowing approach shots to stick on the green. However, Bermuda grass is expected to play firmer and faster - meaning players will have less control of the golf ball - and longer approach shots will have more difficulty stopping the ball on the putting surface. Acknowledging which players have performed well on Bermuda grass courses previously could give you an edge.
Interestingly when Quail Hollow played as a par 72, its scoring average was +0.953 strokes to par, second-highest among all non-Majors in 2016. The course also ranked inside the top 10-toughest in both fairways hit (51%) and greens in regulation (58%).
The last 10 Wells Fargo Championships (2007-2016) at the course have an average winning score of 13.6 under par. However, with a longer course, allied to a move to a Par 71 format and Bermuda grass addition, bettors can expect scoring to be perhaps closer to the 10/11 under mark - the Quail Hollow Club president went further by stating he expects the score between 8 and 12 under par.
Important holes for trading
Chance to score on the Par 5s
A key to shooting low at Quail Hollow, as with many other courses, is to score heavily on the par-5s and manage the other, harder holes.
The emphasis on the par-5s will increase this weekend with players now only getting 12 attempts across the tournament instead of 16. Given these holes are scorable, traders should be aware of players approaching holes 7, 10 and 15.
The ‘Green Mile’ stretch
The 16th, 17th and 18th at Quail Hollow are known as the ‘Green Mile’ stretch and is renowned as one of the toughest conclusions in professional golf. The three holes are statistically the fourth, second and hardest holes of the course. With the 18th averaging +0.481, it was the hardest finishing hole in both 2014 and 2016.
In 2003, when David Toms won the inaugural Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow, he did so despite making a disastrous quadruple-bogey 8 on the 18th. Luckily he had a healthy six-stroke lead and still managed to win.
Given the toughness of the three finishing holes, leaders can easily see their lead abolished, and a swing of three or more shots is realistic; something every live trader should be aware of.
Characteristics needed to perform well at the PGA Championship
We have previously outlined how to identify players to trade in golf. In short, trading golf markets are all about finding players who are undervalued in the market and suited to the specific conditions of the tournament.
Having analysed the course above, let’s look at other statistics to help you identify players to trade at the PGA Championship.
A player's form is a key indicator when looking for players to exceed their chances of winning compared to the odds on offer. This is confirmed by the trend that has seen eight of last 10 US PGA winners winning previously during the season, while 80% had posted a top 10 in one of their two most recent starts.
The PGA Championship moved date in 2016 but has returned to its spot in August for 2017. This allows traders to look at the Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone to provide an indicator of who will perform well.
Since 2006 the PGA Championship winner had always played the week prior at the Bridgestone event, and finished inside the top 22.
Player stats vs the course
Analysing player strengths and weaknesses and to match them up with the course characteristics is another way of identifying players.
As the PGA Tour visits Quail Hollow regularly, we can look at the tournament skill averages for the last seven years to give us an insight into the requirements to score well.
- Driving Distance: 12th
- Driving Accuracy: 26th
- Greens In Regulation: 12th
- Proximity to the hole: 25th
- Scrambling: 22nd
- Putting Average: 14th
The two stats that grab your attention immediately are Driving Distance and Greens in Regulation.
With the added length to an already long Quail Hollow and the domination by longer hitters, driving distance is key to performing well.
The chart below shows the average driving distance over the course of a whole season for the previous winners since 2004 (this data doesn’t include 2013's exceptionally tight Oak Hill set-up):
The average driving distance over the season of the PGA Championship winners measures 302.08 yards. It’s also worth noting that accuracy off the tee will also be beneficial - especially as the Bermuda grass rough at the PGA Championship will hurt players when it comes to hitting greens consistently.
Greens in Regulation and Scrambling
Other traits to possess at Quail Hollow is a good greens in regulation percentage and scrambling ability. These will be even more vital given the new Bermuda Grass, which as mentioned previously, makes holding the greens much more difficult.
Players who have performed well in the US PGA Championship previously tend to know what is expected to win. Seven of the last 10 PGA winners had registered a top 10 in the event previously.
You should also research a player's historical performance at the course, and because Quail Hollow is a regular on the PGA Tour, there is plenty of data available.
Best golf odds
Once you have conducted your research and identified the players you wish to trade, you should maximise your US PGA Championship profit by betting with the best odds.
The graph below highlights your return with Smarkets compared to an exchange who charge 5% commission and bookmakers from a winning £10 bet on 35 PGA and European Tour events in 2016.
Betting with Smarkets would have returned you 3.16% more when compared to any exchange charging 5%, and 35.44% more than traditional bookmakers.
This shows the importance of trading golf with the best odds - and that’s what you get with Smarkets’s industry-low 2% flat commission.
Apply this to betting
This US PGA Championship golf trading strategy has outlined how the course will play, identified holes to be aware of for live trading and highlighted the data you should research when identifying players who offer value.
Recognising which players have performed well in the US PGA and at Quail Hollow in the past is a good indicator, especially if their statistics favour the course characteristics and they enter the event in good form.