Among Las Vegas gamblers, golf is considered one of the two fastest-growing sports to bet on (auto racing is the other).
The most common type of golf bet involves picking the outright winner of a tournament. Typically a sportsbook will list 30 or more individual golfers along with a field (all others) option, at various odds.
For example, Tiger Woods may be listed at 2-1, Tom Lehman at 25-1, Bob May at 100-1, etc. If you bet $10 on Lehman at 25-1 and he goes on to win the tournament, you win $250 plus your $10 stake, for a total payoff of $260.
Another popular form of betting is golf matchup propositions, in which two golfers are paired against each other in a head-to-head wager, with a betting line on each golfer set by the oddsmaker. The golfer with the better (lower) score wins the match-up. (If one golfer continues play in the tournament after his opponent misses the cut, the golfer who continues play wins the matchup.)
For example, a match-up may pit Lehman (-125) against Jim Furyk (+105). If you bet $125 on the favored Lehman, the payoff would be $100 plus your $125 back, for a total of $225. If you bet $100 on the underdog Furyk, the payoff would be $105 plus your $100 back, for a total of $205.
Some match-ups pit one (usually very good) golfer against two or more others. For example, Woods may be pitted against Phil Mickelson, Davis Love III and Ernie Els. To determine the winner, take Woods' score and compare with to the best (lowest) score recorded by the three others.
Some sportsbooks offer odds on unusual golf propositions, such as the over/under on the winning score, the over/under on the lowest round by any golfer or the over/under on the finishing position by a particular golfer. For example, the over/under on Woods' Finishing position may be 3 1/2. If he finishes first, second or third in the tournament, the "under" wins; if he finishes fourth or worse, the "over" tickets cash.
Rules vary by sportsbook, but usually your golfer must tee off in the tournament for "action" (meaning once he tees off, you will either win or lose your bet). If for some reason he does not tee off, this is usually considered "no action" and tickets are refunded.
In head-to-head golf match-up propositions, both golfers must tee off for action.