What is Skins in Golf?

The game of skins in golf is one of the most popular all-time ways to play for amateurs.

Skins games are played in various ways, including playing for money or pride among friends.

what is skins in golf

The most common way to play skins is by setting a price-per-hole between players, and whoever scores the lowest on the hole outright wins the skin.

But recently, golfers have found unique ways to play a golf skins game involving multiple groups, not just two players.

In this guide on the skins game, I’ll give you a background on why this golf game became popular, how the skins game works on the course, and all the popular ways to play skins.

What do skins mean in golf?

Legend has it that golfers used to bet animal skins over normal stroke play contests, hence the phrase “skin.”

But in the modern era of golf, a skin represents what the player of a hole wins for posting the low score.

How are skins calculated in golf?

In the skins game format in golf, skins refer to the monetary value assigned during a round.

Here’s how skin calculations typically work:

Before playing the first hole, all players agree on a monetary value for each skin, usually between $5-$50 per hole. Whoever wins outright by scoring the lowest among the group gets the money. No prize is awarded if two or more players tie, and the value rolls over.

For example, if four players agree the value is $10 per hole, here’s a scenario:

Holes 1-3: All players post the same score on the first hole, second hole, and third hole, so no net skins are awarded.

Rollover skin value: $10 + $10 + $10 = $30

Hole 4: Player A gets the lowest score, wins the hole, and grabs four skins and $40

Holes 5 & 6: Resets to original $10 value, and players A & B tie, therefore no winner, and they’ll play for two skins representing two holes and $20 on the next hole.

6th: Player C gets the lowest score, wins, and has two skins coming their way for $20

The skins game format continues like this through 18 holes. At the end of the round, if all the players agree that the golfer with the most skins collects a prize for winning the whole round.

If players are tied in whole-round skins at the end of their final hole on the course, the money is split, or the participants play their first playoff hole for the next skin.

If a player wins the first hole of this sudden death contest, they win the total remaining prize money.

How do you play skins with money in golf?

A whole-round skins game typically involves a match-play format with money wagered on each hole.

Before starting the round, all the players in the group agree on a cash value for each skin. Amateurs usually play for tens of dollars per hole, although a PGA Tour pro could play for hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

A skin is won by the golfer who wins outright with the smallest score compared to the rest of the group.

If two or more players compete and post the same score, no one wins the skin, and the value of that skin carries over to the next hole. The money carries over until a player wins outright.

At the end of the round, each player adds up the total value of the gross skins they have won. It’s common for the player with the most skins earned over the entire game to take home a full skins game prize.

What’s a fun alternative to Skins Game?

Defender is an excellent alternative to the traditional skins game.

Played like a normal skins match with carryovers, but with one crucial difference: after a player wins a skin, they must make par or better on the next hole to defend and keep that skin. If they fail to defend, the skin goes back into the pot.

The requirement to defend the hole only applies to the player holding the skins, as another player cannot steal them. The defending player either makes par to retain their skins or fails to make par and loses them back to the pot.

How does Skins work?

The great thing about a basic skins game is that you can play over any number of holes. It’s a simple game that maintains the rules of golf but with a fun twist, you don’t typically see on the PGA Tour.

And the best part is you don’t need two golfers either. You can play the same skins golf game with groups of players working as teams.

In the team format, you can even have additional bets within each team, creating smaller games to boost the prize pool.

The best part of skin games is how the money rolls over when players draw. This format encourages competitive play and rewards aggressive strategy to win a hole outright. Rolling over skins adds excitement to see who finally wins the hole.

What is the history of the televised Skins Game?

The Skins Game was a made-for-TV unofficial money event aired annually in the United States from 1983 to 2008. It pitted four of the top PGA Tour professional golfers against each other in a series of holes for big money prizes.

Golf agent Mark McCormack conceived the event to capitalize on the growing popularity of competitive golf events on television featuring PGA Tour players in the early 1980s.

The first Skins Game occurred in 1983 at the Desert Highlands Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona, and featured Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Tom Watson, and Jack Nicklaus.

Over the years, the event featured prominent golfers, including Greg Norman, Fred Couples, Phil Mickelson, and Tiger Woods.

The format involved an escalating monetary value, with the player posting the lower score among the four golfers claiming the prize of the skin. This made-for-TV skins format encouraged aggressive and risky play by the golfers.

While popular initially, interest declined in the 2000s. The final event of the televised program took place in 2008 after the tournament failed to secure a television broadcaster.