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Sports Betting News

What is 3 Ball Betting in Golf?
Published Dec 9, 2023
by Gil Larson

Sports betting has some unusual betting propositions (pun intended). Golf is certainly no different, offering unique opportunities. One of which is 3 Ball betting. This type of wager is not only popular among golf enthusiasts but also presents a challenge for bettors looking to explore different facets of golf betting. Unlike traditional bets based on the overall outcome of a tournament, 3 Ball betting focuses on smaller, more immediate contests within the larger event.

The Basics of 3 Ball Betting

3 Ball betting is a specific type of wager in golf that is particularly popular during the early rounds of a tournament. In this form of betting, the sportsbook groups three players into a “ball” for a particular round of the tournament. Bettors then place wagers on which of these three players they believe will have the lowest score for that specific round.

What makes 3 Ball betting distinct from other types of golf bets is its focus on a small group of players and a single round, rather than the entire tournament. It offers a more immediate payoff, as the bet is settled at the end of the round, and it provides bettors with the opportunity to capitalize on their knowledge of individual players’ performances and tendencies under specific conditions.

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Understanding the Format

To fully grasp how 3 Ball betting works, it’s essential to understand its format and structure within a golf tournament. Typically, during the first two days of a four-day golf tournament, players are grouped into threesomes. These groupings are the basis for 3 Ball betting.

Example Scenario

Imagine a fictional scenario in the first round of The Masters. Three renowned players – Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, and Ernie Els – are grouped together. Each player brings a unique set of skills and a distinct history of performance.

The sportsbook sets the odds based on various factors, including past performance and current form. For instance, Rory McIlroy might be the favorite with odds of 2/1, Phil Mickelson at 3/1, and Ernie Els, considered an underdog due to recent form, at 4/1.

You, having followed these players’ recent performances, decide to place a wager on Phil Mickelson. You believe that Mickelson’s experience gives him an edge, despite McIlroy being the favorite.

At the end of the round, the scores are tallied. If Phil Mickelson scores lower than both Rory McIlroy and Ernie Els, the bet on Mickelson is a winning one. If either of the other two players scores lower, the bet is lost.

This example illustrates the straightforward yet strategic nature of 3 Ball betting. Bettors must consider not only the players’ overall capabilities but also how they might perform in the specific conditions of the round.

Strategies for 3 Ball Betting

When it comes to 3 Ball betting in golf, the approach requires a nuanced understanding of the dynamics at play within a single round among a specific group of players. This betting format demands a strategy that goes beyond general golf betting tactics.

Focusing on Individual Matchups

In 3 Ball betting, the key is to focus on the specific matchup of the three players in question. Unlike outright betting where you assess a player against the entire field, here you need to consider how these players stack up against each other. This involves a detailed comparison of their playing styles, strengths, and weaknesses, and how these might interact or counteract each other over the course of 18 holes.

Short-Term Performance Analysis

While general golf betting might have you looking at a player’s performance over a season or several tournaments, 3 Ball betting requires a more immediate, short-term analysis. How have these players performed in recent rounds? Are there any showing signs of improvement or decline that could impact their performance in the next round?

In-Round Conditions

In 3 Ball betting, it’s crucial to consider the conditions that can change throughout the day. For example, morning dew can affect early players differently than those teeing off in the afternoon. Analyzing how each player in your 3 Ball matchup has historically performed under these varying conditions can provide a significant edge.

Psychological Endurance

Given that 3 Ball betting is confined to a single round, understanding the mental game becomes even more critical. Some players might excel under the pressure of head-to-head competition, while others might falter. Assessing each player’s psychological resilience, especially in a closely-knit group dynamic, can be a deciding factor.

Tactical Betting Approaches

In 3 Ball betting, it’s often wise to adopt a more tactical betting approach. This might involve diversifying bets across multiple 3 Ball groups to spread risk or focusing on groups where the outcome appears more predictable based on your analysis.

By tailoring your strategy to the unique aspects of 3 Ball betting, you can make more informed decisions that take into account the specific dynamics of the players involved and the conditions of the day. This focused approach can enhance your engagement with the sport and potentially lead to more successful betting outcomes.

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Advantages and Risks of 3 Ball Betting


3 Ball betting offers several unique advantages. Firstly, it allows bettors to focus on a smaller, more manageable group of players, making the betting process less overwhelming than predicting the overall tournament winner. This specificity can be particularly appealing for those who enjoy detailed analysis of player matchups. Additionally, 3 Ball bets are settled quickly, usually within the same day, providing immediate results and gratification.


Golf is a sport where even the best players can have an off day. Multiply this times 3 and you can see just how quickly the dynamic can change. This unpredictability requires bettors to be well-informed and cautious. This risk extends to external factors, such as sudden changes in weather, to disproportionately affect one or more players in the group, skewing the expected outcome. All of this would need to be accounted for as best as possible beforehand.

3 Ball Betting in Major Tournaments

3 Ball betting takes on an extra dimension of excitement and complexity during major tournaments like The Masters, The Open Championship, or the U.S. Open. These high-profile events not only attract the best golfers in the world but also come with heightened media attention and pressure, which can significantly impact player performance.

Analyzing past major tournaments is paramount. In 3 ball especially important, as a savvy bettor can get insights into their performance of the previous day/tournament.


This form of betting requires not just an understanding of the game but also a keen insight into the players and their potential performance in a given round. By carefully analyzing player matchups, considering short-term performance and psychological factors, and understanding the unique dynamics of major tournaments, bettors can approach 3 Ball betting with a strategic mindset.

This focused approach not only enhances the betting experience but also deepens the bettor’s engagement with the sport of golf. Good luck!