What Is Skins In Golf?

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Luke is an avid weekend-warrior golfer from the East Coast who plays golf more than he cares to admit.

The skins game in golf has been around for some time. It started out as a type of friendly competition game amongst amateurs but has now reached national popularity.

But what is skins in golf? And how do you play a skin games? We take a look at the details of skins and what you need to know to play this game like a pro.

what is skins in golf1

What Is Skins Game In Golf?

Skins is a type of game in golf where golfers play for money on each hole. They can also compete for anything other than money but it has to be a competition on every hole.

The prize money that’s added to the pot is called the “skin”.

Skins is played in either fourballs or threeballs. The value for each hole is decided before the game and the stakes increase with each hole (or after a certain number of holes).

If a player wins a hole, then he immediately also wins the money for this hole. If no player wins the skin on this hole outright, then the money for this hole gets added to the next one.

Even if a player loses a hole, he can still compete in the next hole as the money at stake isn’t won until the end.

The end in a skins game in golf is not on the 18th green but it’s a sudden death competition. This means that only when a player wins outright, he can win the prize pot.

How To Win Skins Golf

Skins rules are easy and straightforward but there are a couple of different ways to win the game.

You can either play until sudden death at the end and the winner who pots the last hole wins the entire pot.

Alternatively, the player who wins most skins is declared the winner at the end of the game.

Here are a few skins rules and a few tips on how to win the game.

Assign A Value To Each Hole

You can assign any value to the holes. However, many golfers choose to start with lower values and then increase the value for the later holes.

Each Player Contributes The Money

Once you have assigned the holes their values, each golfer needs to put the value of the skin for each hole into a pot.

Alternatively, you can also add up the value for all the holes and then divide it by the number of players. Then ask each player to contribute this amount to the pot.

First Tee

You can toss a coin to decide who tees off first. Then each player tees off in turn and the usual play continues.

Typically, the player who has the lowest score on the first hole is declared the winner of the money for this hole.

However, if two players are tied, then the money is simply rolled over to the next hole.

Continue to play this way until the last hole, and make sure that you keep a note of who wins each skin.

Declaring The Winner

There are a few different things that can happen at the end of a skins game.

Either the player with the most points or skins wins the prize pot, or tied players need to play a sudden death game for the money.

If two or more players are tied, then they need to continue the match in a playoff. Each player who doesn’t win a hole in the last round will drop out until a winner is declared.

what is skins in golf

Variation Of Skins Game

There are a number of different variations that you can play skins with. Here are a few of our favorite skins game types.

Whole Rounds

In whole round skins, all players need to play a set number of holes which is a round. Only when the round has been played, the winner of this round is declared.

The money is put into the pot at the beginning of each round, and only when the golfer with the lowest score wins the round skin.

4+ Match

Typically, skins is played with three or four players. However, you can play skins also with more than four golfers, up to a dozen players.

The same rules apply to this match variation but when players are tied, then the skin is not carried over to the next hole.

This ensures that skins stays a simple game without too many complex calculations. Saying this, you can also use a skins golf app for the calculations.

No Carry Over

Another way to play skins is to set a rule for no carry over. This means that when players tie on a hole, then the skin is not moved over to the next hole.

The value of the tied hole stays unclaimed.

Back It Up Skins

Back It Up is another variation of the skins game. Instead of a player taking the prize money of a hole or a round, he can choose to back it up.

This will double the skin of the next hole, and it will also double the skin of the previous hole which the player didn’t pocket.

Once the doubled amounts of the skins of the two holes have been won, the next hole starts off at its original value.


When you are playing validation skins, then each player who won a skin must validate that win by making the lowest score on the next hole.

If a golfer cannot validate the skin with the lowest score, then the skin can be taken by any player who has the lowest score on that hole.

PGA Tour Skins Game

While the skins game in golf was originally started by amateurs, it also gained national popularity with the PGA Tour from 1983 to 2008.

This tournament was played by only four golfers. One of the team was Fred Couples who was later given the nickname “Mr. Skins”.

Saying this, there were also other golf tours with skins, such as the LPGA Skins Game and Wendy’s Champions Skins Game.

Final Thoughts

Skins golf is a great way to add a little more intensity to your game. The rules are straightforward and you don’t need a lot of cash for the prize pot.

Luke Griffin

Luke is an avid weekend-warrior golfer from the East Coast who plays golf more than he cares to admit.

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