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Each month we will try to bring to you straightforward examples of popular - and not so popular - games on the course; games that will make your rounds more challenging and fun to play. In this next installment of Game of the Month, we'll tackle one of the most well-known games: 'Skins.'
Every year millions of television viewers watch four top players vie for millions of dollars in The Skins Game. Between the popularity of the game with viewers and the game's simplicity, it is easy to see why it has become one of the most popular types of matches around.
In concept, skins is very much a match play format, but it is usually played between three or four players. Each hole is played separately, and is won by the player with the lowest score on the hole -- that golfer wins 'the skin'. The interesting part of the game happens when two or more players tie for the low score. In this case there is 'no blood,' and the skin 'carries over' to the next hole, doubling its worth. At the end of the game, each player settles up based on the number of skins they have.
Most skins games are played using handicaps by playing off of the lowest handicap golfer. For example, imagine three golfers of handicaps 8, 16, and 28 were to play a game of skins. In this match the lowest handicap golfer would play straight up, the 16 handicap golfer would receive 8 strokes on the hardest 8 holes (as denoted by the HDCP number on the scorecard), and the 28 handicap golfer would receive 2 strokes on the hardest two holes and a stroke on the rest of the holes.
Skins Version 1: In this version of Skins, each hole is worth a set amount - say $5. As described above, players play a traditional game with carryovers. In the example below, three friends play this version of skins. They each put $60 into the pot and play $10 skins ($10 per hole). Steve wins a skin on the first hole. The second and third holes are both carryovers, which makes the fourth hole worth three skins (A skin from the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th holes). Steve wins that one as well, upping his total of skins to 4. On the sixth hole, which is the third hardest, Steve receives a stroke. And on a net basis, he shoots a par -- good enough to win the skin. The seventh hole is a carryover for similar reasons. At the end of the match, Steve ends up with the most skins and wins $40 ($100 less the $60 he originally put in to the pot) while Jack and Eric need to ante up $30 and $10, respectively.
Skins Version 2: In this version of skins, the game itself is played the same, but the score keeping is different. Each person brings a skin to the hole, and the winner of the hole wins a skin from each of the losing players. For a threesome this means that the winner wins two skins on a hole. For a foursome, this means three skins. In both cases the other players each lose a skin. In the example below, Steve wins the first hole and wins a skin from both Jack and Eric. This may seem complex at first, but actually simplifies the score keeping. At the end of the game, each player knows exactly where they stand in terms of what they've won or lost. Note that in our example with three players the maximum number of skins our players can win are no longer 18, but 36, and the value of a skin should be adjusted appropriately.
Skins Version 3: This version of skins is independent of the score keeping method you use, but changes the value of a skin and when it is won. Skins are only won if a player scores (on a net basis) a par or better. In addition, a birdie on a hole doubles the value of the skin, and an eagle triples its value.
Now that you have an understanding of how to play skins, you no longer have to wait to see it on TV. Next time you are out on the course, play a game of skins with friends and see if you have as much fun as the pros do.