Emerging Apps and Real-Time Wagers, the Game Changers in Sports Betting Where Golf is Set to Capitalize

Original article found on NewEngland.Golf.

By Brian Verdugo, iGolf CEO and Founder 

Picture the scene: Masters weekend in early April, but you’re 2,000 miles west of Augusta National and taking in the action in a brand-new 12,000 square-foot entertainment mecca at TPC Scottsdale. Video walls and screens cover every inch of the venue and VIP experiences are available for those willing to pay big, along with fine dining, firepits, cabanas and a glorious outdoor area overlooking the magnificent Arizona desert surrounding this premier golf course.

It’s Sunday morning, Brooks Koepka has a two-stroke lead on Jon Rahm, and by day’s end the back-and-forth event ends with Rahm crowned the 2023 Master champion.

Step right up and place your bets.

This real-life scenario technically couldn’t have taken place this past April, but it will be a reality the next time the world’s best players tee it up at Augusta National – as this first-of-its-kind, year-round sportsbook in Arizona is expected to be fully open for business in late 2023 – as the above picture of an optimal entertainment experience for golf bettors will become a reality.

Over the past five years, the world of sports betting has witnessed a remarkable revolution. If that trend continues, no sport is primed to see more growth than golf, which is quickly emerging as one of the most-prominent players in the betting landscape.

Americans legally wagered more than $80 billion on sports in 2022. While the majority of that is on the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and collegiate athletics, no sport is currently on the rise like golf where fans have been flocking to place a wide assortment of bets. The advent of golf betting apps is changing the game. These apps have a range of features designed to enhance the user’s overall experience: live streaming of tournaments, real-time odds and interactive leaderboards are all part of a process that has armed fans with tools to make informed betting decisions.

Real-time betting in golf allows fans to wager on what a player might do on a particular hole or shot. Over the course of a round or a four-day tournament, this opportunity keeps things engaging on a minute-by-minute basis. Side betting has been a part of golf for as long as the game has been played. However, what has been introduced through new technology is the ability to keep track of bets and the ‘set-up’ process, which had previously been both manual and time-consuming.

Leaderboard, a social platform for golf, is among a handful of emerging players in this space and they describe their app as “the place of record for your golf game, no matter how you play.” Leaderboard supports group games, wagering, non-competitive scorekeeping and is fully integrated with the United States Golf Association for handicap data, allowing golfers to play and post their Handicap Index.

“If you’re playing a Nassau, Skins, Nines – all you have to do is invite other players, while we handle the live leaderboard as well as any math that goes with the wagering component. The app calculates in real-time throughout the entire round, keeping everyone on their toes,” said Riley Pratt, Founder and CEO of Leaderboard.

For more check out LeaderboardGolf.co

Whether you bet on pros playing in tournaments, or you embrace ways to notch up the annual member-guest competition at a country club, there is no denying that technological advancements in the betting environment are bringing much-needed excitement to the game of golf.

A gradual shift in thinking by traditionalists that began with more laid-back dress codes at country clubs and the acceptance of music being blasted via Bluetooth speakers during spirited rounds of golf has escalated since the legalization of online gambling in five years ago.

The PGA TOUR is a good example. Previously, the sports body had banned players from betting at TOUR events, but following the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2018 ruling, the organization instituted a robust integrity program in collaboration with Genius Sports and later that year announced a global partnership with IMG Arena to license its official, live scoring data to betting operators around the world.

The TOUR also offers players, caddies and officials educational workshops that reinforce its regulations and highlight the risks associated with betting-related corruption. In another sign of the times, the PGA TOUR in 2021 recruited Scott Warfield as Vice President of Gaming to help oversee the organization’s strategic approach to sports betting, a multi-pronged program that ranges from integrity and responsible gaming to data, content and commercial partnerships.

According to Warfield, golf and baseball are the two sports that stand the best chance to capitalize on legalized gambling – and he is especially excited by the ‘in-play’ options for bettors. “Where we’re moving is focusing more on the live. There’s three holes left, and a threesome is coming through. Who’s going to have the low score on this hole? Jon Rahm has 250 yards to the pin from the fairway on a par-5. Here are the odds he can get it inside 20 feet, 10 feet, five feet,” Warfield told Golf.com in May of 2022.

About a year prior to Warfield’s arrival in Ponte Vedra, the TOUR announced that DraftKings, a daily fantasy sports entity, had been selected as their first Official Betting Operator. In partnership with DraftKings, the TOUR chose the TPC Scottsdale in Arizona as the venue for a pioneering year-round sportsbook.

If all this is not enough to convince you that the times are changing, then what about the new game that was rolled out by the PGA TOUR and DP World Tour with IMG Arena in December 2022? IMG Arena’s Golf Event Centre is integrated with PointsBet, an Official Betting Operator of the PGA TOUR, and it offers more than 35,000 betting markets per tournament. As part of the integration, bettors are given access to new categories such as distance of the longest drive, total putts on the next hole, closest to the pin or next hole score while fans can focus on every shot, hole or player at TOUR events.

Given the recent technological advancements and the number of major entities embracing legalized sports betting, it is little surprise that the $310 million per month waged by gamblers on sports had skyrocketed to $7.5 billion per month as of October 2021. That number has since been eclipsed. In January 2023, the total was over $11 billion – just before the Super Bowl – and two months later it was roughly $10.6 billion, thanks to action surrounding the NCAA basketball tournament. 

Will golf ever see such record-setting numbers? Perhaps not, but no other sport trickles down to amateur participation like golf and that, from a wagering standpoint, gives the game another gear and trajectory most other sports will never experience.

About iGolf:

iGolf began as a data mapping company which has become a brand uniquely focused on providing the golf technology sector with advancements in software, hardware and GPS content. With a strong global presence in golf data mapping spanning more than 20 years, iGolf is perfectly positioned to license companies Golf GPS maps for nearly 40,000 golf courses in 150 different countries. iGolf has invested heavily in adding new intellectual property to its portfolio including radar-based launch monitor technology, laser range finder sensors, trolley and golf car intelligence, 3D elevation terrain on 23,000-plus courses and virtual reality environments for the gaming sector. Over 60 licensees, including Fortune 500 companies, rely on iGolf’s technology to bring advanced products into the hardware, software and mobile sectors.

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For further information: email us at media@igolf.com, or reach out directly to George McNeilly at 407-791-6851.

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