PGA Tour Players Concerned Legal Sports Betting Will Turn Respectful Crowds Rowdy

Posted on: August 2, 2019, 10:50h. 

Last updated on: August 2, 2019, 01:41h.

PGA Tour players are voicing worries that the spread of legal sports betting in the US will turn its typically polite patrons into rowdy and boisterous fans, not unlike those at NFL football games.

PGA Tour golf odds sports betting
PGA Tour star Jason Day doesn’t think sports betting will be good for the game of golf. (Image: AFP)

During last week’s WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, a fan yelled after player Ian Poulter hit an approach, “Get in the bunker!” The Englishman was so put off that he asked security to remove the patron from the tournament grounds, which they did.

GolfWorld caught up with two high-profile PGA Tour stars this week for comment on potential concerns regarding the expansion of sports betting.

Fellow Englishman Paul Casey, currently the No. 19 player in the world, said, “It’s such a minuscule percentage [of fans gambling on the tournament], but with money on the line and people feeling like they can alter the outcome to their benefit, I don’t like the sound of that.”

The US Supreme Court in May 2018 repealed the federal ban on sports betting that had limited such gambling everywhere except Nevada. Today, legal wagers are being accepted in Nevada plus Delaware, New Jersey, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Rhode Island, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Arkansas.

Sports Betting Fore!

Golfers yell “fore!” on the course when an errant shot is heading towards a person. The term comes from 1878 Scotland and means “before.” Yelling “fore!” simply means “look out ahead.”

The PGA Tour is embracing sports betting – which is now being legally operated at land-based casinos and through mobile channels in many of the aforementioned states – but the organizer of the main professional golf tours in the US and North America is doing so with caution.

Tour players were forced to undergo an anti-gambling program prior to last year’s season. The informative tutorial explained what they should and shouldn’t be doing in relation to sports betting. Players are barred from betting on tournaments, and also required to refrain from providing confidential information such as a player’s status to outside personnel.

As for the potential impact sports betting might have on fan behavior, Commissioner Jay Monahan said earlier this year, “We are monitoring it and taking it seriously. I think a lot of that behavior is going to be self-policed.”

Sport Nobility Threatened

Golf is a game cherished by many for its honest qualities of self-governance. Rule 1 of the USGA Rules of Golf says all should “play by the Rules and in the spirit of the game.”

Honesty is a pillar of the sport, as is respect – after all, this is the sport that created the “golf clap” – a restrained, civilized form of applause.

But Jason Day, the 2015 PGA Champion and former No. 1-ranked golfer asks, “What happens when you’re playing against a guy in the final round and [a fan] tries to put you off because their guy needs to win?”

“I don’t think betting in general is a good thing. To bring it into golf, it will bring in a lot of money. But unfortunately, it goes with the fact people get very emotionally attached to what they’re betting on and take it very seriously,” the Australian said.