Skins is a game in golf where players compete for a prize – usually money – on every hole. The prize at stake is called the ‘skin’.
The game tends to be played in either threeballs or fourballs, with monetary values decided before players tee off. Traditionally, the stakes increase on each hole or after a group of holes.
If a player wins the hole outright then he wins the skin. If no-one wins the hole outright, the value of the skin gets added to the skin for the next hole.
All players are able to compete for these held-over skins, irrespective of their score on the previous hole.
If a skin isn’t won on the 18th green, the game goes into sudden death. Here, the game changes. A player still wins the skins if they win outright, but if say Player A and Player B birdie the hole and Player C makes par, Player C is eliminated and Player A and Player B continue until one wins the skin.
Whole Round Skins Game
In this version of skins, you don't know who wins until the round is finished.
Players put money into a pot at the start of the round and play the whole round out.
Every time a player has the lowest score for the round, they earn a skin. Post-round, the money is divided up by the number of skins earned.
Back It Up Skins Game
Back It Up is a variation of Skins where, instead of pocketing the prize, you can "back it up".
If you do that, the next skin is worth double if you win it, whilst the skin you had won but laid on the next hole, is also worth double if you win it.
If another player wins the hole, they just win the original value of the two holes.
So, if Player A wins the first hole with a cash value of £1 and decides to back it up, they would be playing for skins worth £2 each on hole two. If they win, they get £4.
However, if Player B wins the second hole, they get two skins worth £1 each and Player A gets nothing because he lost the skin he won on the first hole.
If there is no outright winner of hole two, each skin gets moved forward to the third hole at its original value.
PGA Tour Skins Game
The Skins Game was an unofficial-money event on the PGA Tour from 1983 to 2008, taking place in November or December every year.
Only four golfers were invited to the tournament, with the most prolific player over the years being Fred Couples.
Couples was given the nickname ‘Mr. Skins’ because he won $3,515,000 and 77 skins in 11 appearances. He won five of the Skins Games overall. In the final event, won by K.J. Choi, the money was handed out as follows:
Holes 1-6: $25,000
Holes 7-12: $50,000
Holes 13–17: $70,000
Hole 18: $200,000
Skins has been played on other tours, too. The Wendy’s Champions Skins Game was a Champions Tour event from 1988 until 2011, whilst the LPGA Skins Game was an LPGA event from 1990 to 2003.