By Snyper on 11/1/10
Matt is an opinionated* golf enthusiast from Pennsylvania. He coaches at the high school level, molding the minds and swings of our next generation. Feel free to chime in with your thoughts and opinions of Matt in the comments. Don't hold back- because Matt won't.

Yeah, sure, golf is a lot of fun. But, whenever you can combine a round of golf with gambling and trash talking with your playing partners, that's when the game really becomes enjoyable. Almost every time I tee it up with my buddies, we negotiate some form of a wager on our rounds. Most often, we develop some form of a skins game.

Playing golf for skins is probably the most basic way to incorporate competition for money and not just for the pride of the lowest score. Sure, you can play someone of a similar ability based on stroke play, but if one player is even a little better than the other, it makes stroke play a lot less appealing. Thus, you develop a skins game. For those of you who may have never played for skins, a skin is basically just a point. Before the round, you agree on a monetary value for each point, be it a dime or twenty dollars. After the round, you simply settle up based on the total number of skins each player has earned.
The most basic form of earning a skin is winning a hole. If you win 5 holes, you win 5 skins.

Now, the fun begins when you start to discuss how a skin is earned. The most basic form of earning a skin is winning a hole. If you win 5 holes, you win 5 skins. In a foursome, guys will usually play a two tie all tie format. This simply means that if there are two guys tied for the lowest score on the hole, nobody in the group wins or loses any skins. It’s also common to play “carryovers” when using two tie all tie. This means that if a hole is tied, the next hole is worth two skins. If that hole is tied, the next hole is worth three skins and so on. I love the pressure that carryovers can cause after a couple holes have been tied!

Ok, so what are some more interesting ways to earn a skin? Well, this is where is starts to get interesting. It seems like every time I play with a new group, they introduce me to a new way to earn a skin. I’m going to try to cover most of the ones that I can remember and I’m counting on you guys to tell me about some that you have used and enjoy. Most guys play that birdies and sandy pars are also worth a skin. These are commonly known as “junk” skins. Junk skins are often determined to be worth two skins. This is referred to by those in the biz as “double junk”. Greenies are another form of junk skins. To earn a greenie, you must hit your ball closest to the pin on par threes. Obviously, you must be on the green to accomplish this, but you must also make a par on the hole. So, if you hit the green and three putt, you do not earn the greenie and the next par three greenie is worth two skins. Speaking of three putts, I have also played with guys who award everyone else in the group a skin if one of the guys has a three jack. So, three-putt on a par three when you were closest to the pin and you really get burned!

Obviously, when players in your group are of varying abilities, you need to have some form of handicapping. This can be pretty easily established based on the best player in the group. However, when you establish handicaps, you have to decide if the strokes that are given will count towards junk skins. In other words, if you get a stroke on a par five and make a sandy six, do you get credit for a sandy par? This is known as a “net junk skin”. Most of the time, net scores do not count towards junk skins. You have to be a pretty good negotiator to get net junk, but it is an option!
Junk skins are often determined to be worth two skins. This is referred to by those in the biz as “double junk”.

There are a lot of versions of crazy games that can be played during a round of golf with your buddies, but we’ll save those for later columns. Some of those games are complicated and confusing, but playing for skins is as simple as it gets. If you want to make it interesting, you can start adding some of the previously mentioned methods of winning a skin. Every hole is another opportunity to win some money, so one bad shot or hole doesn’t ruin your round. In fact, a bad shot into the bunker becomes an opportunity instead of a mistake. So, if you haven’t already, talk your buddies into playing for skins during your next trip to the links. If they are poor, play for dimes just for fun’s sake. If they enjoy the monetary pressure, play for dollars. Either way, give it a shot and enjoy the added spirit of competition. And, if you guys have any other good ideas for how to earn a skin, post it so the rest of us can give it a shot!

* Matt's views and opinions are his own do not necessarily reflect those of oobgolf.

photo source

[ comments ]
aso says:
The way we play skins:

$1 a hole. Two-tie, all tie with carryovers. If you get a triple on a hole, you cough up any earned skins and it goes back in the pot for the next hole. If you birdie a hole, $3 bonus plus you can steal any skins earned by another player. We also add closest to the pin on par 3s (must be on the green) for a $3 bonus; however, you must par or better. If you bogey, the other players win $3 each. Sounds like a lot going on, but pretty easy to calculate and can add up quickly.
Backquak says:
we play skins w/ carryovers and 18 carries over to whoever wins #1 which makes the first hole just as important as the last.
Backquak says:
no greenies, sandies, or any of that stuff, just 1 point per hole and 2 points for low total score, so the most a person can lose is 20 points
bkuehn1952 says:
I have joined a few groups that had so many bets going it was hard to track. I like Backquack's version. A built in tie-breaker and an even 20 points makes sense.
bducharm says:
Our group never plays carryovers. We usually play half handicap off of the low man (usually me at a 0). We will also play "lefts and rights". Each hole is a separate bet. The two golfers on the left are partners against the 2 golfers furthest right. Usually $1 per hole. If we have 5, we will play Wolf.
cmuidiot says:
@bducharm: What's wolf?
cjgiant says:
If you play junk without net, it is probably a distinct advantage for the better player. I would argue for allowing the possibility for net junk for worse players on those holes a worse player gets a stroke from the better players. For example - I am more likely to birdie at 9HC than my friend who is an 18HC. I argue he should have no more than 9 holes (negotiation is key as you state) to net birdie to give him an "equal" chance at that junk.
cjgiant says:
@bducharm - never played with 5, wolf and usually golf. most courses around me don't allow fivesomes.
Neo says:
What's the easiest way to count the skins at the end and payout? Let's say you finish, and now you have a score card with four players and a bunch of dots all over it. How do you figure the payout?
Backquak says:
add up the dots for each player, the guy with the most will be collecting from the three other guys the difference and you basically pay anyone who has more dots than you:
Player 1= 5 dots player 2= 3 dots, player 3=2 dots, player 4= 1 dots...
player 1 collects 2 from player 2, 3 fr player 3, and 4 fr player 4...
player 2 collects 1 fr player 3 and 2 fr player 4...
player 3 collects 1 fr player 4
in the end after everyone has paid the winners player 2 has 1 dot and player 1 has 9.
hp says:
I enjoying playing skins here and there, but there are a couple of rules some people employ that I can't stand and won't agree to:

1) You must win a skin with par or better. Baloney! If you double bogey and all of your partners triple bogey, then you beat them! Plain and simple.

2) Validation. If you win a skin, then on the next hole you must tie the lowest score to keep that skin. Not a fan. You won, you can relax if you want to.

My favorite skins game is partner skins where you rotate partners every 6 holes.
Envythepea says:
@Neo - Thanks for asking the question, and backquak, thanks for the response. Whenever I've played skins with a group, even though it was for low value (.25), when we'd finish it was always like "hey, it's too confusing, nevermind!". Backqyak's explanation makes it understandable. And I like some of the variations posted. I'm in for skins!
Banker85 says:
"We usually play half handicap off of the low man (usually me at a 0)."

wow you're awesome!!!
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