How Does Skins Work in Golf: A Friendly Guide to the Game




how does skins work in golf

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If you’re an avid golfer, you’ve probably heard of the skins game. But what exactly is it, and how does it work? In this article, we’ll take a closer look at this popular golf game, including the rules, scoring, and variations. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, understanding the basics of skins can add a new level of excitement to your golfing experience.

Key Takeaways

  • The skins game is a popular golf game that involves players competing for money on each hole.
  • The winner of each hole earns a “skin,” which is worth a predetermined amount of money.
  • The player with the most skins at the end of the game is the winner.
  • There are several different variations of the skins game, including adding carryovers and playing with handicaps.

The Skins Game Format

Now that you know the basics of the skins game, let’s take a closer look at the format of the game. In the skins game, each hole is worth a certain amount of money or points, known as a “skin.” The player with the lowest score on each hole wins the skin for that hole, and if no one wins the skin, it carries over to the next hole.

Players can participate in betting on the skins game, with each skin being worth a predetermined amount of money or points. The most common betting format is for each player to contribute an equal amount to a pot, and the player with the most skins at the end of the game wins the pot.

There are also other betting options available, such as players being able to bet on their own skins or on other players’ skins, or even doubling the value of the skins on certain holes. These additional betting options can make the game more exciting and competitive.

Keep in mind that the amount of a skin can vary depending on the players’ agreement before the game, and players can negotiate the value of each skin to fit their preferences and budget.

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Scoring in the Skins Game

Scoring in the skins game can seem confusing at first, but it is actually quite simple once you understand the system. Each hole is worth a set amount of money, called a “skin.” The value of the skin is predetermined before the game starts, typically ranging from a few dollars to hundreds or even thousands, depending on the players.

In the event that multiple players tie for the lowest score on a hole, the skin carries over to the next hole, adding to the value of the skin for that hole. Carryovers can continue for multiple holes, increasing the stakes and excitement of the game.

To calculate the winner of the hole and the skin, simply subtract the player’s handicap (if applicable) from their total score on the hole. If a player with a higher handicap scores lower than a player with a lower handicap, they win the skin.

Players can keep track of their scores and winnings using a golf skins calculator, which can be found online or on a mobile app. These calculators make it easy to input scores and determine winners, taking the guesswork out of the game.

Remember, the goal of the skins game is to win as many skins as possible over the course of the round. Keep track of the value of each skin and play strategically to increase your chances of coming out on top.

Strategies for Success in the Skins Game

The skins game in golf is all about taking calculated risks and making strategic decisions. If you want to increase your chances of winning, you need to think carefully about your approach to each hole. Here are some tips to help you develop a winning strategy:

Know the Course

Before you start playing, take some time to familiarize yourself with the course. Identify the holes that are likely to be the most challenging and think about how you can approach them strategically. Consider factors such as wind direction, terrain, and hazards when deciding on your shot.

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Take Risks on High-Value Holes

In the skins game, not all holes are created equal. Some holes will be worth more than others, so it makes sense to take risks on these holes to try and win a higher value skin. Conversely, if you’re playing a hole that’s only worth a small amount, it’s probably better to play conservatively to avoid losing a skin to your opponents.

Play to Your Strengths

Think about your own strengths as a golfer and use them to your advantage. If you’re a strong driver, for example, try to set yourself up for a good approach shot to the green. If you’re good at putting, try to get as close to the pin as possible to increase your chances of sinking the ball and winning the skin.

Stay Patient

Remember, the skins game is a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t get frustrated if you’re not winning skins right away. Stay patient, keep playing strategically, and wait for your opportunities to take the lead.

Don’t Get Greedy

It can be tempting to take risks and try to win as many skins as possible, but remember that every skin you lose is one that your opponents gain. If you start taking unnecessary risks, you’re more likely to lose skins and fall behind. Stick to your strategy and only take risks when it makes sense to do so.

By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to success in the skins game. Remember, the key to winning is to stay focused, play strategically, and have fun!

Variations of the Skins Game

While the basic rules of the skins game remain the same, there are variations that can add excitement and strategy to the game.


In a standard skins game, if no player wins a hole outright, the skin carries over to the next hole. However, players can choose to add carryovers to the game, where skins accumulate and carry over for multiple holes until a player wins the pot. This can lead to larger payouts and higher stakes as the game progresses.

Playing with Handicaps

Handicap systems can be used to level the playing field and give higher-handicap players a chance to compete. In a handicap skins game, players receive an additional stroke allowance based on their handicap, which is deducted from their total score at the end of the round.

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Reverse Skins

In reverse skins, the objective is to have the lowest score on the hole. The pot starts with a predetermined amount and decreases with each hole, with the player with the lowest score winning the pot on each hole.


Greenies are similar to closest-to-the-pin challenges and are played on par-3 holes. Players compete to hit their ball closest to the pin, with the winner receiving a predetermined amount of money. Greenies can be added to a standard skins game or played as a separate competition.

System 36

System 36 is a scoring method used in skins games that takes into account a player’s handicap. Each player’s score for the round is adjusted based on their handicap, and the winner of each hole is the player with the highest adjusted score. This method ensures that players of all skill levels have a fair chance to win.


Now that you have a better understanding of how the skins game works in golf, it’s time to hit the course and put your knowledge to the test. Remember, the skins game is all about having fun and enjoying the company of your fellow players, so don’t get too caught up in the competition.

Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner, the skins game provides a unique twist on traditional golf and is a great way to spice up your game. So why not gather your friends, place your bets, and see who comes out on top?

And if you’re feeling especially adventurous, try out some of the different variations of the skins game we discussed. Adding carryovers, playing with handicaps, and implementing different scoring methods can all bring new challenges and excitement to the game.

Overall, the skins game is a beloved tradition in golf, and for good reason. With its unpredictable nature and potential for big payouts, it’s no wonder so many players enjoy this thrilling format. So grab your clubs and give it a shot – you never know, you just might become the next skins game champion.

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