Trading golf for a living (Part 1)

Is it even possible to make a living from trading the golf markets on the Betfair Exchange?

Well, that’s what I do. Take a look at this new background story from the life of af professional golftrader.

Any Given Sunday

It all began in the fall of 2012. It was a late Sunday evening, and I was watching golf live on TV from the PGA Tour. Bubba Watson was on fire, and was leading by a couple of shots entering the back nine.

A few days earlier I read something about sportstrading on the internet. Needless to say, I was inspired. Not by the money, but by the fact that you could in a way close your bet and take a small profit regardless of the eventual result.

Through the years I have been betting a lot, and one of my main frustrations is the volatility in your profit/losses. Long periods of “one step forward, one step back” and the occasional heavy losing streak, takes its toll on your self confidence at times. So I was very inspired when I read about the concept of “greening up” or “hedging”.

Back to Bubba, that late Sunday, where I turned on my laptop and logged into my Betfair account. Over the next couple of hours I lost my trading virginity. Using the minimum stakes to back and lay bets on Bubba’s charge, I actually managed to make a profit of around 5 €. Obviously it was pure beginners luck, but I was hooked…

Trading golf for a living

Let’s fast forward to this Sunday in the beginning of November 2018. The working schedule:

9.00 am to 2.30 pm: The final round of The Turkish Airlines Open.

The European Tour is entering the final three tournaments of the 2018-season beginning with the Turkish Airlines Open. It is one of the new Rolex Series events, which means a bigger price pool and a stronger field of players, but also more liquidity in the winners market on the Betfair Exchange.

7.00 pm to 0.30 am: The final round of The Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.

On the other side of the ocean, The PGA Tour is already well underway with the 2019 season, and the Las Vegas based tournament with the silly (but inspirational) name also fields a fairly strong field and as always even more liquidity as The PGA Tour usually does because of the greater attention from the media, sponsors, fans etc.

At 9.00 am I close the door to my home office, power up the PC and use around 15 minutes to open various internet sites, log into my Betfair account via The Geeks Toy trading software and adjust and print out my course stat sheet. I take a quick look at the live scoring from the players out

Course stat sheet.

on the course early, to try and gauge how hard the course is playing today compared to the last few days, and also take a look at the weather forecast for the area. A big glass of water and a cup of hot, sweet coffee on the desk, and I am ready for part one of my working day.

Things are very slow for the first couple of hours. A lot of players are making pars, and nobody is really making a move at the top of the leaderboard. That means less volatility and therefore fewer good opportunities for a trader like me. I am actually in the red for most of the first half of the round, but on the bright side, nobody is running away with it, which is bound to give some good opportunities on the back nine.

If there is one thing I have learnt through the last couple of years, it is to be patient and not force things out of boredom. And finally things start to open up a little towards the end as Justin Rose goes on to defend his title in a playoff and regain top spot in the world. I keep calm and chip away at the opportunities I see, and even though I hesitate for a second and miss out on a massive opening, I manage to steer clear of mistakes and take a descent profit in the end.

A little less than 400 € in profit is less than average, but acceptable with the slow start of the final round, and more importantly I am satisfied with my performance and ability to grind and keep patient in the slow market.

Next a little family time, and after putting the kids to bed, it’s time for part two of the working day. I feel tired. The kids are still small (1 and 3) and the nights are rarely quiet, so sometimes it is a challenge with these late Sundays.

The PGA Tour has better sources of information, which means that I can listen to live radio from the course in one ear and still hear the TV commentators with the other. A shot-tracker also provides more details on every player, but on the other hand the signal delays of both radio and TV are longer, so trading on The PGA Tour is still a slightly different game of reacting rather than acting.

The challenges for this particular tournament are also different in my home office. Feeling tired both physically and mentally is not a good start, and this Sunday I am also interrupted more than once from kids waking up crying when mum is out visiting a friend, Manny the Cat insisting on going out (and in and out and in again), and then managing to knock over my huge glass of water, soaking the entire desk.

In the end I manage to keep a cool head and grind out another 350 €. Below average, yes, but after a poor October, I am still happy to be nicely in the green early in the new month, and I am particularly happy with a couple of solid performances from tournaments where a grind was needed.

Off to bed at 0.45 am, hoping for 5 hours of sleep before the kids start jumping on my head. But there is light ahead of the tunnel: Unlike Garfield, the famous lasagne eating cat, I love Mondays. Kids in daycare, girlfriend at work; I have the day off all by myself.

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