Golf Editorial

20190210 Incompetent ALPG?

I was dismayed last week to read the ALPG tournament schedule and see an event for this week entitled ‘Vic Open’. There was no sponsor name.

The absence of the sponsor name was staggering to me as ALPG had announced to the media on 7 December 2018 that a naming rights sponsor (inevitably that Australasian golf serial-rescuer, ISPS Handa) had been secured for the tournament.

Yet here we were in early February and ALPG hadn’t bothered to update the tournament name to reflect that sponsorship!

I say that’s either incompetent, in extremis, or demonstrative of a complete lack of respect. It has to be one or the other.

Might such behaviour partly explain why ALPG has failed to retain so many of its sponsors in recent years?

———————————————

Then, today, I see the ALPG site carrying a media release relating to an upcoming tournament previously known as Australian Ladies Classic Bonville. While that was an unnecessarily long title (should have been Bonville Classic?) the new one is a real beauty:

“The Pacific Bay Resort Australian Ladies Classic – Bonville, presented by Geoff King Motors.”

Pacific Bay Resort

Now we all know it’s difficult to attract sponsorship monies to Ladies golf, but here’s a wickedly unwieldy title trying to be all things to all people. And failing. Miserably. There are a lot of redundant words in that silly title!

It’s not remotely catchy and it’s far too long for me to use it on my site. I’m sure Oddschecker won’t use it and the bookmakers who offer betting on it (which helps fund Australian golf, by the way) won’t use this title either. Persons talking about the tournament in the street or in bars won’t use it ……

However, my main point is that the media announcement was from Golf NSW, not ALPG. In fact, ALPG did not even rate a mention in the media release, see it here

I don’t know the details but, to me, this looks like ALPG aiding and abetting another organisation to trumpet the fact that it had succeeded where ALPG had failed – in the securing of sponsorships.

Further, ALPG didn’t even have the nous to either add its own paragraph into the press release or release one of its own on the topic: welcoming the new sponsors on board, thanking Golf NSW for its excellence and stating how this is good news for its members. Nothing! Squat! Doughnut! Sweet FA!

Even further, if you visit the ALPG site to read about the organisation, it mentions the following:

screenshot-alpg.com.au-2019.02.10-09-48-52

Fyi, neither Oates nor McKayson are now sponsors; they’ve been lost. No mention of new sponsor The Pacific Bay Resort either!

An organisation that fails to update its website (its ‘window to the world’) to reflect commercial reality is no big deal in the greater scheme of things but it certainly is indicative of either commercial naivety or lack of a care. Whichever, it’s yet another sign….

I’ve railed on a bit in some recent blogs about competent (Mike Whan, LPGA) and incompetent (Mark Lichtenhein, LET) tour leadership during a critical era for female golf.

The above simple examples suggest to me that either the ALPG Board or CEO Karen Lunn, or both, need to be added to the ‘incompetent’ category.

 

Ⓒ Copyright MJ Miller (Mike) 10 February 2019

 

Golf Editorial

20190131 Aussie Golf Confusion

Introduction

Cleaning company Oates has ceased its sponsorships of both the male & female Australasian golf tours for 2019. Fortunately, Japanese charity ISPS Handa has stepped-in and plugged the sponsorship gap. Again.

In fact, Handa largely has been the saviour of a number of tournaments, both in Australasia and elsewhere, during recent years and it is the naming rights sponsor of both versions of next week’s Victorian Open (more on this later) as well as the the two upcoming flagship events: the Australian Womens’ Open and the Perth Super6.

vicopen_2019logo_298x168

ISPS Handa as a welcome saviour needs to be viewed in the context of the sponsors lost to Australasian pro golf during the past five years: Lexus of Blackburn, BMW, Oates, WA Goldfields, Mazda, Nanshan, Gold Key Financial, Rebel Sport, Inghams, McKayson, BWAC Regional Employment Services, Renault, RACV, Mulpha, Seasons Aged Care, Bing Lee, Fujitsu, Mercedes Benz Truck and Bus, Volvik, Horizon Golf, Holden, Qantas & UNIQLO.

That’s a very long list of former sponsors for two small tours to accumulate in five short years! In fact it’s atrocious, a golfing world’s worst and an indictment of the leadership of both tours!

Sponsorship aside, to me Australasian (or Australian?) golf presents online in many ways as a tangled web of confusion. Below are some of the reasons why.

An Unresponsive Social Media Presence – specifically twitter

Neither Australian pro tour responds to legitimate twitter questions from followers; I know, I’ve tried; over many years. Such arrogance, or stupidity, is unnecessary, irritating and it alienates people.

I would probably never have written this somewhat critical blog if either Tour had ever shown me the courtesy of a reply to any legitimate question.

If you want to follow the Mens’ Tour on twitter and you type ‘pga tour of australasia’ into the search box it does not return the Tour’s twitter account as a result. If you try ‘pgat australasia’ it returns no results! Good luck even finding its twitter account.

Australia or Australasia?

The Ladies Tour is named “Australian Ladies Professional Golf”.

alpg logo

Firstly, it’s a stupid name because it doesn’t include the word ‘Tour’.

Secondly, this title does not embrace New Zealand, despite ALPG being the sanctioning body for pro golf in Australia and New Zealand.

The Male tour is named “ISPS Handa PGA Tour of Australasia”. I applaud that, unlike its female counterpart, it embraces New Zealand via use of the word ‘Australasia’ but the name still fails on two counts:

  • The use of a sponsor name in its organisation’s title is cheap, tacky and temporary as well as being almost unheard of in the world of professional golf and;
  • The use of the phrase ‘PGA Tour’ in its organisational title is simply naivety in extremis; why promote the name of a competitor? The primary mens’ tours of: Europe, South Africa, Japan & Asia did not deem it advisable to include ‘PGA Tour’ in their tour titles.

Gender Equality

The Victorian Open was one of the trailblazers in hosting male and female golfers together, and now with the added marketing-point of equal prize money.

I’m sure that’s a nice warm fuzzy feeling for the organisers and sponsors, especially in light of the recent rise to prominence of the #MeToo movement. However, it does fly in the face of commercial reality and is thus more of a headline than a meaningful new direction.

While equal prize money for female golfers is a noble goal to pursue, it will not be achieved until:

  • The female physique has evolved to the point where it’s equal in strength to its male counterpart and;
  • Females are equally represented on the boards and executive of sponsoring organisations.

Tournament Names

The PGA Tour of Australasia has named its Victorian event next week “ISPS Handa Vic Open” though up to this week it was entitled “ISPS Handa Victoria Open”. This vacillation between ‘Vic’ & ‘Victoria” was unnecessary and unprofessional but at least it included the sponsor’s name.

Not so the case in respect of the ALPG Tour, whose schedule contains an event next week named ‘Vic Open’: See excerpt from the ALPG site (31Jan2018) below:

alpg screenshot

The sheer incompetence, and unawareness of commercial reality, inherent in listing an upcoming tournament without mention of its naming rights sponsor beggars belief.

This type of amateurish oversight is one of many reasons why Tours such as LET & ALPG struggle to recruit and retain sponsors.

Websites

The ALPG site looks as though a group of retired graphic designers from a past decade were thrown in a room given a free hand and one hour to create it.

It’s not even ‘https’ (encrypted).

It’s very much 1990’s in look and feel, presents as a conflicting rainbow jumble of colours and uses fonts and layout for which I’d fire any designer on my staff!

Its layout ethos can only be summarised as: “Let’s get it right at the very top of the page and for everything else let’s take some drugs and party!”

The Mens’ Tour site is actually not its site; it’s an area within the PGA of Australia site!

Yes, a professional golf tour in 2019 is piggy-backing its critical web presence on an amateur body’s (awful) site that primarily exists to serve all areas of the game of golf except professionals.

Have you ever wondered why the PGA Tour has its own site instead of being a sub-set of the PGA of America’s? Do even the lowly EuroPro or Alps golf tours have their own sites?

Further, the Aussie PGA site has the most confusing navigation of any Tour site on earth. It’s simply too easy to become lost (eg clicking on ‘Tournaments’ and arriving at a page that doesn’t list tournaments, etc). I could write a thesis on the fundamental deficiencies of this site but that’s a topic, or a nice consultancy earn, for another day.

This stupidity surely only exists because the Tour doesn’t have its own site. I hope so. Whatever the reason, and this is the crux of the issue, PGATA itself doesn’t care.

Ladies or Women?

LPGA Tour (L = Ladies) and ALPG (L = Ladies) are co-sanctioning an upcoming event; the biggest female golf event of any year in Australia, its Open.

What is the tournament’s name? It’s the Womens’ Australian Open. My question, ladies, is why isn’t it named the Ladies Australian Open?

Further, if the current name is deemed the correct one, then why aren’t the two organisations named WPGA & WLPG?

In my opinion, either the word ’Women’ or ‘Ladies’ needs to be deleted from the lexicon of female golf forever; the sooner the better.

In conclusion

Australian golf has a lot to offer the world and the country possesses more than 60 quality courses that have hosted professional tournaments in recent years.

Australia also produces more than its fair share of world class amateurs and professionals; both male and female.

But its tour sites are letting its entire golf community down and showcasing Australian and New Zealand pro golf in an amateurish manner to a global audience.

It’s therefore time for a shake-up, to introduce some online professionalism and help lay the groundwork for the recruitment of future sponsors and, critically, to retain those few that remain on board today.

 

Copyright MJ Miller (Mike) 31 January 2019

Golf Editorial

20190102 Eisenhower & Esperito Santo Trophies as Predictors

Eisenhower Trophy

The Eisenhower Trophy is the biennial World Amateur Team Championship for men, organised by the International Golf Federation.

IGF logo

It was named after Dwight D. Eisenhower, the President of the United States, when the tournament was first played in 1958. It’s been played every even-numbered year since that time.

It first appeared on my personal radar when my country, New Zealand, briefly became competitive: 2nd in 1990 and the winner in 1992.

I’ve followed it closely since my interest in golf betting got serious, after my first ever golf bet ($50 on Bernhard Langer to win the 1993 Masters @ 50/1) won.

My interest was also spurred by the realisation that the sheer breadth of the Eisenhower competition, involving as it does the best amateurs from so many countries, made it a true scoping of global talent.

Not only that, but players complete 4 rounds of stroke play – the perfect measuring stick for persons like me who are interested in betting on golf tournament outcomes. Each team now has 3 players and the two best scores each round count towards the team total, but it is individual scoring performances on which I focus.

1992 (Canada)

That winning 1992 NZ team included Michael Campbell who went on to record 15 pro wins including a US Open. His first pro wins were in 1993, 1994 (3) & 1995.

1994 (France)

USA prevailed by 11 strokes with a team that included Tiger Woods. Interestingly, it was played at Le Golf National’s Albatros Course, the venue of the 2018 Ryder Cup; not one of Tiger’s happiest events!

USA team member Allen Doyle won the individual stroke play honours; he won 3 pro tournaments in 1995.

Tiger, who was 6th overall, started winning pro tournaments in 1996.

My point here is that we could to some extent predict progression to early professional success for Eisenhower stars and it’s a trend that has been maintained in more recent times..

Let’s now skip ahead to more recent Eisenhower’s and take a look at those who starred and what’s occurred since.

2014 (Japan)

USA won and its team was pretty useful: Bryson DeChambeau, Beau Hossler & Denny McCarthy. Bryson won the US Amateur in 2015 and his first pro tournament in 2016. Beau & Denny are also now both PGA Tour card holders.

The individual stroke play was won by Jon Rahm of Spain from Victor Perez, Lucas Herbert & Alejando Tosti.

Rahm’ subsequent ascent to near the apex of world golf is well documented while Herbert & Perez are already rising young stars on the European Tour. Tosti turned pro only at the end of 2017 and is yet to make his mark in the pro ranks.

Close behind in the stroke play standings came: Denny McCarthy, Marcus Kinhult, Bryson DeChambeau. Corey Conners, Renato Paratore …… Plenty of recognisable names there.

2016 (Mexico)

This was not a vintage year, and Australia cantered to victory by 19 strokes, led by Cameron Davis & Curtis Luck – who finished 1st & 2nd in the individual standings.

Davis has since won the 2017 Australian Open and a Web.com tournament in 2018. Huge promise!

Luck hasn’t yet performed as well as his compatriot, but 3xTop10’s on the 2018 Web.com Tour hint at what’s to come.

Adrian Meronk of Poland tied 3rd. He had a solid season on the 2018 European Challenge Tour (9xTop25’s) and is a strong candidate to graduate in 2019.

Sun-Ho Yun tied 3rd. He had a 2nd in his first season on the Korean Mens’ Tour in 2018 and is also expected to progress in 2019.

Alfie Plant also tied 3rd. He subsequently won the 2017 European Amateur but is yet to make his mark in the pro ranks.

Viktor Hovland was 7th. He has since finished 2nd in the 2018 European Amateur and won the 2018 US Amateur. His most recent start was a highly meritorious 13th in the 2018 Australian Open. Watch this space!

2018 (Ireland)

Denmark won from USA in the Teams’ event while the individual title was narrowly won by Spain’s Alejandro del Rey from Japan’s Takumi Kanaya.

Del Rey is at Arizona State (a Sun Devil theme here; see Jon Rahm above) and is a 20-y-o long-hitter. Watch this space too!

20-y-o Kanaya, since the Eisenhower, has won the Asia-Pacific Amateur, finished 24th in the Japan open, missed the cut in a JGTO tournament and signed-off 2018 with 17th at the Australian Open. Keep a close eye on him in 2019!

Nicolai Højgård, a member of the winning Danish team, was born only in 2001 and counts an Open Championship start (2018; MC), a PGT win  and the 2018 European Amateur title on his cv.

His identical twin, Rasmus, was also a team Denmark member and, identical to his twin brother, was T6 in the 2018 Eisenhower. He’s already played a handful of pro events in Europe as an amateur and is expected to progress upward in the coming years.

Justin Suh tied 3rd. He played the 2016 US Open (MC) and finished 4th & 6th in the stroke play qualifier of the US Amateur in 2016 & 2018. Big things expected.

New Zealand’s Daniel Hillier tied 3rd with Suh. He was the stroke play medalist at the 2018 US Amateur, has placed Top20 in the past three Asian Amateurs and has three Top25’s from a handful of PGAT Australasia starts.

And so on …..

Conclusions

Amateur prominence is no guarantee of either accession to the pro ranks or success after arrival.

However, knowledge is power and it can enable bettors to back some highly promising ‘unknown’ players at great prices a few times, before everybody else jumps aboard and starts destroying their prices.

Esperito Santo Trophy

Turning to the Womens’ game, the Esperito Santo was launched in 1964 and, like the Eisenhower, is played bi-annually. 50+ countries compete.

I started following it from 2008 (Australia) when Sweden annexed the title by 12 strokes with a team of: Caroline Hedwall, Pernilla Lindberg & Anna Nordqvist. Two have since won Majors.

2010 (Argentina)

Korea beat a USA team including Jessica Korda by a monstrous 17 strokes, setting a tournament scoring record in the process. It was only Korea’s 2nd team title (1996) but a precursor of a dominant period to come; and, I suspect, ongoing!

2012 (Turkey)

Lydia Ko won the individual title, having finished 31st in 2010 as a 13-y-o. She was hardly unknown though, having already won the US Amateur & several pro tournaments including the LPGA’s Canadian Open!

The winning Korean team included 16-y-o Q Baek who won 3 times in Korea and once on the LPGA during 2014. Also, 17-y-o Hyo-Joo Kim who has since won 12 times, incl the 2014 Evian Championship!

2014 (Japan)

Australia beat Canada with Korea 3rd in the teams’ event.

17-y-o Brooke Henderson was top individual. She’s since posted 7 pro wins (incl a Major) with her first win coming in 2015.

Australia’s 18-y-o Min-Jee Lee was 2nd. She’d won the Vic Open as an amateur and also had her first pro win in 2015.

A pretty good supporting cast, too, with the next names on the leaderboard being: Alison Lee, Bronte Law, Su Oh, Linnea Strom & Anne Van Dam

2016 (Mexico)

Back to business-as-usual with a thumping Korean victory, this time by 21 strokes!

17-y-o Hye Jin Choi was the individual stroke play winner. She’s won 4 times on the KLPGA Tour since joining in 2017.

Puk Lyng Thomsen of Denmark was 2nd; she has entered the USA collegiate golf system.

Third was 16-y-o Korean Min-Ji Park who turned pro and joined the KLPGA Tour in 2017. She already has two wins (plus 4x3rd’s) so watch for her emergence onto the global stage.

Notable names a bit further down that 2016 scoreboard were: Daniela Darquea (5th), Leona Maguire (6th) and 16-y-o Nasa Hataoka (11th) who is my tip for the 2019 LPGA Money List title!

2018 (Ireland)

This produced a rare USA victory over asian powerhouses, Japan & Korea. I suspect it’ll prove to be a significant title, too, for a country looking hard for its next-gen golf heroines. Paste these girls in your hat:

The individual winner was 18-y-o Korean Aye-An Cho. She’s had one start since, a 6th on the KLPGA. She’d previously made 10 cuts on that tour as an amateur! Promising!

Joint runners-up were USA’s Jennifer Kupcho and Japan’s Yuka Yasuda.

Kupcho finished 21st at the 2017 US Open and was recently 2nd in the LPGA QSchool to win her card for 2019.

Yasuda has competed sporadically on the JLPGA Tour since July 2017 and has already notched up 5xTop20’s including 3rd & 7th!

USA ‘s 21-y-o Kristen Gillman finished 4th. She owns a stellar amateur record going back to 2013 including the 2014 US Womens Amateur title. She won on the JLPGA Tour in July 2018 as an amateur and also recently received her 2019 LPGA Tour card at QSchool.

Canada’s Jaclyn Lee was next. She was a quarter-finalist at the 2018 British Amateur (4th in stroke play) and recently also won her LPGA card for 2019.

Conclusion

The Esperito Santo is a massively powerful predictor of future pro success for (young) amateurs. More so than the male equivalent. Take note!

 

© Copyright MJ Miller (Mike) 2 January 2019

Golf Editorial

20181117 Golf Tour Arrogance & Unresponsiveness in Social Media

Recently, I tweeted to a Ladies Golf tour, Australia’s ALPG, asking about its 2018/19 tournament schedule – which was empty.

I did not receive a reply.

Recently I tweeted to a Ladies Golf tour, Europe’s LET, asking about its 2019 tournament schedule – which was empty.

I did not receive a reply.

Recently, I tweeted South Africa’s Sunshine Tour, asking if the Joburg Open would be played late this year as usual.

I did not receive a reply.

Several times recently I tweeted the Asian Tour asking about its tournament schedule.

I did not receive a reply.

Do you perceive the pattern here? I’ve tweeted to the European Tour perhaps 70 times over the past 6 years, asking legitimate questions like: ‘Have you ceased to publish stats’, ‘Is such-and-such a tournament cancelled or rescheduled’, ‘Do you know your new site doesn’t work properly’, ‘Which courses are being used this week?’ etc.

I’ve never received a reply. Not one. Ever.

However, I’ve noticed the European Tour does responds to tweets from players such as Lee Westwood, for example. The conclusions to be drawn are obvious:

  • Some tweeters matter (a lot) more to the European Tour organisation than others; there’s no egalitarianism here, and;
  • European Tour’s twitter account does not exist to be helpful to its twitter followers.

One of those ignored twitter followers may, in a few years’ time, be the CEO of a major business, sitting down with his marketing execs to decide whether to sponsor a European Tour event.

Now, to any pro tour, I’m Joe Nobody. Also, I may annoy them on occasion by highlighting errors in their: sites, apps, schedules, player profiles, site functionality, etc, and that’s not designed to win me brownie points. But, ultimately, such engagement will be helpful to a Tour organisation; if it takes any notice.

So, why would a tour not answer a simple, usually helpful, question from a (demonstrable) golf fan?

I don’t know, but I suspect the answer lies in dinosaurs. Here are persons in positions of authority within tour organisations who may be clueless about social media, half-assed or ignorant as regards customer service delivery / quality and blissfully unaware that some of their windows to the world in the form of modern media can be of significance.

These are the types of persons who by 2012 were thinking. ‘What’s an app?’. Who, by 2014, when they finally (sort of) understood what an app was, most likely after talking with their grandchildren, went into the office the next day and said ‘We must have an app; but don’t spend too much, it’s a modern fad and will die-out.’

And who, in the ensuing years, steadily made so many restrictive rules & threats about the company’s engagement in social media that the persons actually trying to deliver service through those channels are today terrified of getting in trouble so, when they’re in doubt or a topic may prove sensitive or embarrassing, they naturally do nothing.

However, if the answer is not dinosaurs then these organisations may really be in trouble! Arrogant, flawed, corporate cultures and paradigms can and do survive but that tawdry survival only presages their inevitable extinction.

In the modern age, as a business, you’re more exposed than ever before in history. A simple tweet, post or pic can turn into a public relations nightmare, at warp speed. This means, whether current management & board members like it or not, as a business you are more accountable than ever before.

What’s the answer?

Simple, be accountable; proactive even.

If, as a business, you are going to be involved in social media then embrace it; reply to questions, be irreverent sometimes, admit mistakes and apologise, be responsive, extinguish fires immediately and publicly – not by burying your head in the sand and hoping they’ll go away! Sometimes, they don’t go away.

If you’re a CEO or business manager and you don’t have the time or resources to support your social media presence then get out of the social media space! Now! Please!

Here’s a newsflash for you. “Social media engagement is not a one-way street”. Just because your marketing manager convinced you he or she could use social media to attract new customers, and you’ve invested company funds in that pursuit, it doesn’t mean the two of you can thenceforth sit and push your marketing messages out into cyberspace and ignore everything that occurs as a consequence of your actions; especially responses or questions from the public.

If you think your business can operate in some magic digital vacuum where everything that happens in your social media space will be positive and the remainder can be ignored or swept under the carpet, then get out of the social media space! Now! Please!

If you think you can ignore what your own social media channels are telling your business about itself and that ‘irritating noise’ in any negative form is meaningless, then get out of the social media space! Now! Please!

Finally, a simple plea.

If you receive a legitimate question from a twitter follower. REPLY TO IT!

 

© Copyright MJ Miller (Mike) 17 November 2018
Golf Editorial

20181110 Some Guidelines for Smart Golf Betting

Introductory Comments

There is no substitute for backing winners, so if you always back winners you don’t need to read this. Just go enjoy your winnings and have a good laugh at the expense of the rest of us!

However, for the other 99.9% of gamblers what follows is an eclectic cornucopia of lessons gleaned from my personal betting experience and, more importantly, from watching the betting of all levels and types of gamblers from all over the world – from the rankest of amateurish recreationals to the most disciplined and professional global syndicate.

They didn’t all bet on golf but the strategies of sports betting don’t vary from sport to sport; only the tactics vary in terms of addressing issues such as the sizes of the fields and time.

In the course of working with online bookmakers since 1997, I’ve observed some things that I think you should do and some that you should not:

Discipline

Successful betting requires discipline. I’ve never seen a successful gambler, over any period of time, who was not disciplined – in both his staking and what he bet on.

Staking Levels

Every golf gambler should have a staking level, or amount that he can afford to spend (burn): per bet, per tournament, per week or preferably all three.

If you’re a trader, you should be planning to try and win a notional amount per bet, tournament or week.

Personally, I structure my betting so that, if I hit a modest place-place double, my payout in any such week will equal roughly three times my weekly outlay.

Have a Plan

It doesn’t matter what the plan is, just have one. You’ll find it will help keep you more disciplined and structured in your betting. For example:

  • If your plan is to stake a maximum of $10 per week, don’t bet $100;
  • If your plan is to bet on golf, don’t bet on football;
  • If your plan is to bet on golf outright markets, don’t bet on first round leader;
  • If your plan is to back longshots, don’t back favourites.

Be Capable of Sustaining your Plan

Anybody’s golf tournament staking level should be one that’s sustainable for a reasonable period of time, because fields of 156 players means you’re not going to win regularly; you need to know you can afford to sustain your staking for weeks ahead.

Remorse

Closely allied to the above sustenance issue is that there are few worse feelings than having decided you’ll bet on every longshot you like, conscientiously doing so for several weeks and then having to skip a week owing to lack of funds. While you’re on the sidelines, the inevitable may happen!

Eliminating the opportunity for this type of remorse to arise, and the subsequent apportionment of blame and beating-up of oneself, is an underrated psychological component of betting.

Having said that, remorse should not be sublimated. If that bad betting event occurs, you need to reflect on it and feel bad and, especially, tell others about it. Believe it or not, this is healthy therapy.

Firstly, the suffering may help you make better decisions going forward – perhaps even including not gambling. Secondly, telling others is healthy whereas keeping secrets, especially financial ones that impact you or your family, is not.

Don’t get Carried Away by a Win

Just as you should not reduce your staking level after losses, you should not increase it after wins. Many golf punters allow one (typically rare and random) win to go to their heads and will stake ten times as much the following week.

In my opinion, there are only three reasons for such increased staking:

  • You’re well in funds and the step-up to the next level of investment is justified by winning performances that you deem sustainable or;
  • You’re now ten times more intelligent than you were last week or;
  • You’re a certifiable moron.

Don’t back too Many Players in one Tournament

This is a common trap for persons who work hard to analyse golf tournaments. It’s a common failing of many golf tipsters too. So, be guided by price in determining how many to back; the shorter (lower) the prices, the fewer you should back.

If you like to back favourites (which you should rarely do, by the way) it makes no sense to back five players in the 6/1 – 30/1 range because your winners will not be frequent enough to sustain your betting bank. If you don’t believe me, go test it out. Pick 5 favourites for each tournament for a few months and see how many win and what your payouts would have been relative to your total outlay.

If you like to back outsiders, in my opinion it’s justifiable to back up to four of them each way. For argument’s sake let’s assume their win prices are 51.00 -101.00, making their place prices 13.50 – 26.00. If you back three each way, your total outlay will be 6 units and if one places (no ties) you’ll more than double your money.

Put another way, one placing will sustain your betting for 2-3 tournaments.

Cheers & Good Luck with your Golf Betting.

 

© Copyright Mike J Miller: 10 November 2018
Golf Editorial

20181109 Doubles Betting & Dumbo Accountants

This started out as a primer on doubles betting and somehow morphed into a rant about the sad accountant-induced state of the modern bookmaking industry!

Anyway, I think the influence of accountants and risk managers on modern bookmaking is sadly hilarious; read on and see whether you agree! But firstly here’s how I approach doubles betting.

—————————————————

I like to bet each-way doubles. Or Top5, Top10 or Top20 doubles.

Here is an overview of my process:

  1. Price-up a tournament field and compare with bookmaker prices;
  2. Reduce that field to only those players whose bookmaker prices are ‘overs’ (x% bigger than my prices);
  3. Delete those shorter than 50/1 (30/1 for Ladies & Seniors) and those longer than 200/1;
  4. For the remaining ‘target’ players, dig deeper into relevant data & form then select my most favoured 3-4 players;
  5. Repeat the process for every tournament on which bookmakers are betting, then;
  6. Box all my players in each way doubles with one another (so I have every golfer in an each way double with all my selections from the other tournaments).

Assuming one quarter the win odds is available as place odds, if the shortest win price I will bet is 50/1 (51.00) the smallest place price I’ll have will be 12.5/1 (13.50).

So, if two of my selections place Top5, the minimum place double will pay 13.50 x 13.50 = 182.25 units (if unaffected by ties).

It’ll pay 26.00 x 26.00 = 676.00 units if both players’ win prices are 100/1 (101.00). And so on….

These payouts arise from an outlay of 54 units if I double three players from each of three tournaments. That’s 27 win-win doubles & 27 place-place.

The, hopefully, regular payouts on the place-place doubles will keep my bank in existence, unless I go 3-4 weeks without a payout. Conversely, if I hit a win-win (which occurs twice per year on average) then the win double payout at, say, 75/1 (76.00) for each winner = 5,776 units.

Most importantly, my underlying principle is that if I can price golfers better than my golf bookmaker then I’m getting a discount – generating bigger payouts than I would receive if the bookmaker’s prices had been correct. The logic here is to eliminate the ‘house edge’ or even shift that edge to being in my favour – so the bookmaker is betting with me!

Further, had the bookmaker’s prices been shorter (smaller) then I likely wouldn’t have bet on those players in the first place. Don’t ever think that price or value don’t matter!

To avoid quickly coming to the attention of bookmaking companies which, these days, are super-quick to limit or ban winners, a lot of ‘smarts’ and ‘professionals’ bet in small stakes across several or many bookmakers and hiding their identities by using non-personal betting accounts (friends, syndicates, family members). It’s time-consuming, but what’s the alternative?

Bookmaking organisations have generated this undercover tactic, punters trying to stay under the radar, because they are now fundamentally incapable of accepting that winning gamblers should exist; so they seek to eliminate them from their companies.

I don’t blame the actual bookmakers themselves at all; this modern, grey, colourless, accountant-driven, approach to risk management is the causative factor of gambler chicanery and is, sadly, founded in a blissful ignorance of the art / science of bookmaking. Here’s why:

If I’m a smart golf bookmaker I know my clients; specifically I know those few who I respect. I permit those clients to bet, in their own names, with my company but, by mutual agreement, I limit them to win an acceptable amount per bet. Acceptable to both parties. I have a stop-loss and he knows he can get his weekly bets on; win-win. He’s not incentivised to bet with me anonymously and, anyway, I’ll soon notice if he does. It’s a professional and respectful business arrangement.

As a bookmaker, I can then use his expertise to help influence my pricing strategy. He’s put in a lot more tournament research than I have, he may even be better than me, and I am a recipient of his expertise in the form of bets.

For example, if two of my smart bettors are all-in on Brooks Koepka this week at my opening price, I might take their bets then reduce that price and go best price in the world on: Justin Thomas, Dustin johnson & Tiger Woods, enabling me to get a lot more stake money in from (the vast majority of) my other clients.

My turnover / action is significantly increased, I have a more vibrant book for my staff to manage and my top prices on some of the favourites might well attract new clients. I’m differentiating my prices and my company from the rest of the (uniform) golf betting marketplace. All good, right?

BUT the grey, colourless, accountants won’t allow any of this to occur because, as a golf bookmaker, if I have a losing week and my prices relating to those losses were out of line with the market, I can’t defend my actions to a grey, ignorant, drone who could get me fired and who is expert in reading profit & loss accounts but exits in a vacuum that does not include: the art of bookmaking, growing a client base or invigorating a business!

So, what we largely now observe is bookmakers who have to copy ‘the market’ in order to keep their jobs while engaged in a daily battle with smart gamblers betting incognito.

It’s hilarious!

I say hilarious because:

  • The successful gamblers are still winning money;
  • The powerless golf bookmakers copy market prices because they have to, guaranteeing they’ll receive ‘smart money’ on copied prices that are wrong;
  • The bookmaking companies often don’t know who is actually behind the winning bets and;
  • It’s all been orchestrated by those dreary accountants or risk managers who think they can engineer a betting business consisting only of losing punters. Dream on, dweebs!

Despite what the number-crunching suits might believe, all the: IP tracking, kyc (know-your-customer) measures, subsersive cookie-placement and so on will not address the ‘incognito gambler’ threat.

If we project this scenario into the future the grey suits will eventually decide they don’t need golf bookmakers; in fact, many have already. We know who you are.

They’ll believe they can just get some software written that routinely steals prices from somewhere; in fact, many have already. We know who you are.

This will lead to a reduction in both bookmaker employment and motivation and that’ll lead to more incorrect prices by bookmaking companies. And that’ll lead to reduced revenues for those grey colourless suits to contemplate!

As I said, hilarious!

Cheers and good luck with your golf betting!

 

© Copyright Mike J Miller: 9 November 2018

 

Golf Editorial

20170918 Golf and the Olympic Games

Introductory Comment 

Golf struggled mightily to win a place on the Olympics roster for Rio & eventually succeeded in time for Rio 2016.

That noteworthy achievement can be deemed a moderate success, despite issues regarding health, completion of a new course, Tours’ re-scheduling and the eventual absence of a raft of top male players.

Despite all of those issues, the two gold medalists, Justin Rose & InBee Park, were worthy winners.

No-Shows 

Some of those top male player absences were attributable to fears over the Zika Virus, which ultimately proved unfounded, while a lot of players simply couldn’t be bothered, for various reasons.

That’s not uncommon either in golf; top golfers these days are over-rewarded and over-pampered and golf is a very individual game. But, in my opinion, the absentees (expectants fathers perhaps excused) let themselves down badly and did their game and their fans & countries a disservice.

 By contrast, when grossly overpaid sports pro’s  were earlier permitted to participate in the Olympics (Basketball, USA Dream Team, 1992) they all turned up: Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Larry Bird, Karl Malone, Magic Johnson, Clyde Drexler, et al. They recognised the significance of the moment, the opportunity  to represent their country and a duty to put self-interest aside and help grow their sport. They succeeded! Mightily!

Back to those modern spoiled brats. Among the no-shows for 2016 Olympics golf were some of the biggest global golfing names, few of whom had a worthy excuse: Rory McIlroy, Louis Oosthuizen, Adam Scott, Marc Leishman, Hideki Matsuyama, Jason Day, Branden Grace, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth & Charl Schwartzel.

 Also not interested in attending were: Vijay Singh, Tim Wilkinson, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Brendon de Jonge, KT Kim, Victor Dubuisson (though he withdraws from everything!), Graeme McDowell, Matt Francesco Molinari, Hideto Tanihara, Angelo Que, Matt Jones & Camilo Villegas.

Surprisingly, female withdrawals were minimal, with South Africa’s Lee-Anne Pace (Zika-phobia) the only significant name to decline.

What Might Have Been 

Imagine for a moment a USA team of Spieth & Johnson, an Australian team of Leishman & Scott, a South African team of Oosthuizen & Schwartzel, a Japanese team of Matsuyama & Tanihara, a Northern Irish team of McIlroy & McDowell, etc.

I should add, as a postscript, that Basketball in Rio 2016 was missing as many global stars as golf (though that didn’t occur at London2012 or Beiing 2008)! So, are we witnessing a generational change in attitude to Olympic gold or did Brazil just suck big-time as a destination? Or was there a large group of male golfers who feared the Olympic anti-doping tests? Unlikely.

What’s Wrong? 

Anyway, all of the above leads me to the main point of this article. How could the Olympic Games accommodate Individual and Team Golf (which can be truly tribalistic) without a swag of time-consuming head-to-head matches and, in the process, become more appealing?

It has just been announced that golf will remain on the Olympic calendar until at least 2024, which is critical as it means gold medal golf won’t be played in Brazil (which doesn’t move the needle in golfing terms) but in Japan 2020 & France 2024 (USA 2028?) – consumption markets that will move the needle!

From Golf Channel, “Some found last year’s format of 72 holes of stroke play too uninspired for the Olympics and various alternatives have been suggested, including calls for a team portion to the competition.”

I was uninspired and I also missed a national team element.

Antony Scanlon, the executive director of the International Golf Federation that oversees golf in the Olympics, said today “We, along with the IOC, will reflect on the competitions after the 2020 Games, and consider additional formats, either a change to the current competition (like a shift to match play) or a new team element.”

Yeah, Antony, let’s do nothing before we plan for 2024! Incredible. Incredibly lazy or merely naive? 

This clown added, “Timing is an element; there is a finite number of days of the competition, and you aren’t left much for a team competition and you don’t want to devalue the medal by rushing a competition. We have spoken to a number of players and they weren’t too happy trying to shoehorn in another event. It’s been a long year for the players, so the workload was another consideration.”

That is an absolute wimpish cop-out as well as being unimaginatively short-sighted and patently untrue! What this strategy means is 2024 will be the only, and maybe the last, opportunity to secure golf as an Olympic event. What it also means is that Scanlon is demonstrably unfit to hold his current position.

If 2020 is as uninspiring as 2016 then 2024 better be an absolute smash-hit, or golf will disappear from the Olympics from 2028, Los Angeles. Growing the game? Not even trying!

What the Solution? 

It is not helpful to criticise a sport’s Olympic strategy without offering an alternative, so here are the components of mine; based on what I think was most banal about Rio 2016: small fields of just 60 players, an unknown new course & no ‘national team’ element:

·         Play (Mens & Womens) over four days;

·         Stroke Play;

·         On established, even famous, courses;

·         Fields of 156 players;

·         No cut;

·         Eligibility determined by OWGR rankings with a limit of 8 players per country;

·         Four-person teams per country;

·         Each ‘national team’ playing as a foursome over all four rounds.

This will deliver a 156-player tournament while simultaneously enabling a 27-country, international teams’ competition, with the event and its six (not three) medals decided in just four days: individual & team. 

I used today’s OWGR world rankings to inspect how the 39 teams, and thus the 156-player field, would pan out based on my above criteria.

The result was 27 different countries represented with twelve countries earning a 2nd team based on their ‘national strength’ as measured by individual world rankings. (I’d argue that’s about right)

Those 12 are pretty much all the game’s powerhouses: USA, GB&I, Japan, France, Korea, South Africa, Australia, Spain, Sweden, Germany, Thailand & Canada.

Here are the notional 39 teams, roughly in order of strength:

USA        Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler

Gb&I       Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Paul Casey, Tommy Fleetwood

USA2       Brooks Koepka, Matt Kuchar, Patrick Reed, Charley Hoffman

Spain       Jon Rahm, Sergio Garcia, Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Pablo Larrazabal

Aust        Marc Leishman, Jason Day, Adam Scott, Scott Hend

Gb&I2     Tyrrell Hatton, Matt Fitzpatrick, Ross Fisher, Russell Knox

Jpn          Hideki Matsuyama, Yuta Ikeda, Hideto Tanihara, Satoshi Kodaira

Swe        Henrik Stenson, Alex Noren, David Lingmerth, Alexander Bjork

Rsa        Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel, Branden Grace, Dylan Frittelli

Can        Adam Hadwin, MacKenzie Hughes, Graham Delaet, Nick Taylor

Den        Thorbjorn Olesen, Soren Kjeldsen, Lasse Jensen, Lucas Bjerregaard

Kor        Siwoo Kim, Byeonghun An, Jeunghun Wang, Sunghoon Kang

NZL        Danny Lee, Ryan Fox, Michael Hendry, Tim Wilkinson

Tha        Jaidee, Aphibarnrat, Janewattananond, Khongwatmai

Jpn2       Shugo Imahira, Yusaku Miyazato, Daisuke Kataoka, Miyamoto

Fra         Alex Levy, Matthieu Pavon, Julien Guerrier, Lorenzo-Vera

Fra2       Romain Wattel, Bourdy, Benjamin Hebert, Adrien Saddier

Irl         Shane Lowry, Padraig Harrington, Paul Dunne, Seamus Power

Ita        F Molinari, Paratore, E Molinari, Matteo Manassero

Ger       Martin Kaymer, B Ritthammer, Alex Knappe, Stefan Jaeger

Kor2      KT Kim, Younghan Song, Sanghyun Park, Jung-gon Hwang

Rsa2       Dean Burmester, George Coetzee, Jaco Van Zyl, Richard Sterne

Bel         Thomas Pieters, N Colsaerts, Thomas Detry, Christopher Mivis

Aus2       Cam Smith, Aaron Baddeley, Andrew Dodt, Brad Kennedy

Esp2       Adrian Otaegui, Jorge Campillo, Nacho Elvira, A Canizares

Swe2       Rikard Karlberg, J Lagergren, Oscar Lengden, Johan Carlsson

Arg        Emiliano Grillo, Andres Romero, Fabian Gomez, A Nunez

Ind        Anirban Lahiri, SSP Chawrasia, G Bhullar, Shiv Kapur

Chn        Li Haotong, Dou Zecheng, Wu Ashun, Zhang Xinjun

Ger2       Alex Cejka, Marcel Siem, Max Kieffer, Von Dellingshausen

Tha2       Saksanin, Marksaeng, Boonma, Wannasrichan

Can2       David Hearn, Austin Connelly, Silverman, Sloan

Phi         Juvic Pagunsan, M Tabuena, Angelo Que, A Lascuna

Ned        Joost Luiten, D Huizing, Van Driel, Van der Vaart

Fin        Korhonen, Ilonen, Pulkkanen, Lindell

Tpe        CT Pan, Chan Shih-Chang, Hung CY, Lu Wei-Chih

Aut        Wiesberger, Wiegele, Nemecz, Matthias Schwab

Mas        Gav Green, Fung, Danny Chia, Ben Leong

Mex        Ancer, Jose de J Rodriguez, R Diaz, Carlos Ortiz

Countries that came close were: Colombia, Portugal, Chile … A couple had one good golfer but little support crew: Paraguay, Venezuela, Bangladesh, Fiji …

It’s not perfect, nothing is, but I believe it meets all the objectives canvassed above: more players for a proper tournament, completed in 4 days, containing individual & nation competitions and adding to the spectacle by contemporaneously showcasing 312, not 120, golfers and 39 teams to its on- and off-course audiences.

© Copyright Mike J Miller: 18 September 2017