There's no other sport where you can back runners at 50-1 and 66-1 with a regular, realistic chance of winning - for a new punter coming into betting, golf is a great place to start." The man speaking is Tim Pickering, for the last 16 years the golf odds guru for Totesport. He is a player on golf and says: "I'd be very disappointed if I didn't make it pay. You can back a 66-1 chance every year for ten years at Wimbledon without a cat in hell's chance of winning but if you do your research, you need only a couple of 50-1 winners a year to make golf pay. It doesn't mean you have to bet every week; some weeks you don't really fancy anybody, other weeks, there are no prices that stand out.
"In golf, you sometimes get 20-1 the field; you can't get that in any other sport, and there's some terrific value if you put in the homework. Just look at Jeff Maggert, 100-1 for Top American in the 2004 US Open with Ladbrokes. An amazing price considering his record in that Major and his overall Majors record. You know he won't win the US Open, but you are not backing him to."
What about 72-hole match betting? "The problem with that is that you are betting odds-on virtually all the time. So you have to have at least a 60 per cent success rate to make any sort of profit. That used to be easier to achieve when bookmakers simply put two 50-1 chances together. These days we are much, much more careful with our matchups. I spend more time on these than on anything else as punters are a whole lot cleverer these days, thanks largely to the Racing Post. All the work is done for them.
"But the punter has more chance with match betting than threeballs. That's the hardest of the lot. Lots of punters playing on threeballs are putting 4-1 and 5-1 chances in their multiples, players with no chance in my view, and, to be fair, they are having some success. And the amateur champions can be overpriced, particularly in the first round - they seem to have no fear of playing with Tiger & co.
"Remember, though, that for the Majors we bookmakers are pricing up 30 and 40 threeballs and twoballs. The punter only needs to bet on one or two. And the Racing Post table marks up the percentages - the punters never used to get that kind of help.
The best advice? "Don't bet for the sake of it. Don't bet every week, only bet when you believe it is value, do your homework, follow players in form. Simple, really."
Biggest lesson learned as an odds-compiler? "Don't ever think you know more than other people - there are a lot of clever ones around."