The game is played as version of matchplay, and is suited to three- or fourball games
Skins is a golf game whereby the players compete for a prize on every hole. This prize is the ‘skin’. The name comes from a bag of money, the bag itself made of skin.
However it need not be money that the players compete for, but points.
The game is played as version of matchplay, and is suited to three- or fourball games.
Each hole is awarded a prize of a certain amount of money in advance of the round. It is customary for the sums of money to increase as the round progress.
If one 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 even if they had not tied for the win on the previous hole.
Thus the game can favour the erratic player, those who can occasionally play the odd brilliant hole and spectacularly stuff up some others, rather than the Steady Eddie.
The golf skins game is reckoned to favour attacking play for this reason. There is reward for going low; little penalty for going high.
If there are skins that have not been won on the 18th green then the game goes into sudden death. The rules for sudden death are slightly different in that an outright win still wins the skins, but if there is a tie for the lowest score, then only those who have tied for the win continue on to the next hole as players.
A variation on the traditional golf skins game is Back It Up.
A skins game used to be a feature of the PGA Tour, with four invited players taking part over Thanksgiving weekend. The competition started in 1983, when the four who played were Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player.
The event ran until 2008, stopping because it lost its sponsor and could not attract another one. Fred Couples won five of these skins games in his 11 appearances.
As example of how skins value increase dying a round, that 2008 event had a total prize money of $1million, with $25,000 on each of holes 1-6; $50,000 for holes 7-12; $70,000 for hole 13-17 and $200,000 on the final hole.