The European Tour announced last month that Betfred is to become the new title sponsor of the British Masters. Not a moment too soon. The two-year deal is a welcome development for a tournament that in recent years has struggled for sponsorship.
But it also will extend what is now a centuries-old relationship between golf in the UK and the country’s burgeoning betting industry, which is as much a part of the game as the balls and clubs used to play it.
There is documentary evidence to show that betting has been around almost as long as the game itself.
Allan Robertson, pioneer professional golfer, at St Andrews, Scotland, about 1850. Photo: Thomas Rodger, University of St. Andrews Library Photographic Archive
One of the first mentions of golf betting in print came in October 1839 when the Fifeshire Journal reported on a match at St Andrews in which the great Allan Robertson “carried” (won) all the “inputs” (sweepstakes). That was such a regular occurrence that the same newspaper later described Robertson as “the real, legi...
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