With most professional golf on hold for the time being, the developmental tours that have chosen to continue running events have become the only game in town -- not only for up-and-coming and somewhat-established pros but also for golf fans and bettors who are looking for any kind of action to follow.
Typically, a sportsbook wouldn't even consider posting odds for events on the Cactus Tour, West Florida Golf Tour and Minor League Golf Tour. They wouldn't get much action against the PGA Tour, European Tour, LPGA Tour and the like. However, at a time when there's nothing else on which to bet, books and bettors have aligned to agree betting on some golf is better than not betting on any golf.
That means offshore books like Bovada and on-shore books like Circa Sports are offering odds on these developmental tour events. That's now a newfound cause for concern for those running the tours.
The Minor League Golf Tour had to post a notice on their website on March 24, telling players of a new policy prohibiting them from betting on themselves or their fellow players in a competition.
"With most of the major sports world shut down, some major sports betting companies have placed odds on players and taken bets on MLGT events," the statement reads. "Because of this a new policy has been added to the MLGT. MLGT members are not permitted to place a wager on themselves or another player in the field of a MLGT event. Any player caught doing so will face suspension and loss of membership dues."
The PGA Tour and other major tours around the world have had such rules in place for years, adding integrity programs to make sure their players aren't betting on professional golf tournaments of any kind.
There are a number of good reasons to prohibit players from betting on themselves. Perhaps the best reason is how much a player could win betting on a developmental tour event compared to what they could win by actually taking down the tournament title.
Many books are allowing wagers of up to $500 on these events, offering generous odds because of the fluid nature of one-day and two-day tournaments compared to 72-hole affairs, as well the relative lack of public knowledge available about most of the players. For the West Florida Golf Tour event played on March 23 in Sarasota, Fla., a 20-to-1 shot won the 18-hole tournament. Had someone placed a max wager on winner Jordan Miller, they would have won $10,000, compared to the $2,020 he won as champion.
A player in the know could cash in on their knowledge of their fellow players (or themselves). Players on the take could tank to allow a longer shot to win after placing a wager on that player, colluding to take thousands from sportsbooks.
It's not something tours like the Minor League Golf Tour had to consider before two weeks ago, but for now, they will.