How to Play Skins
Skins is one of the most popular golf betting games among players of all skill levels, from the weekend warrior to the pros looking for a little motivation during their practice rounds. In Skins, every golf hole is its own match, with the lowest score winning the hole. So, unlike some other games, each hole can create serious pressure. The next time you and your buddies tee it up, give Skins a shot and watch the drama unfold. But first things first, you’ve got to know how to play Skins if you want to win them.
Match Play (Hole-by-Hole) Skins
The first type of Skins game is scored like match play, with the lowest score (either the net score if handicaps are involved, gross score when they aren’t, or both) winning each hole. It’s important to note that in Skins there are no ties, so the value of the hole (usually $1 or $5 if you’re feeling like a high roller) carries over to the next hole.
For example, if Golfer A and Golfer B halve (or tie) any hole, the next hole is now worth two skins ($2 in a $1 Skins game). Holes continue to carry over until there is an outright winner. For example, if six holes in-a-row are halved, then you’ll play for some serious cash on the seventh hole. So, drain that birdie putt already, would ya!
Whole Pot Skins
Whole pot Skins is an excellent way for larger golf outings to enjoy post-round drama. In a whole pot Skins game, golfers pay into a pot before the round begins, say $5 to $20 per player. Everyone plays not knowing if their score on a hole will win a Skin, which encourages aggressive play and exciting outcomes. After the final golfer holes out on 18, the groups get together – we suggest at the 19th hole where everyone’s a winner – to settle up the bets. Remember, there are no ties in Skins so a hole can only be won when a unique low score among the group is found. Once all the Skins are discovered, the total pot is divided by the number of Skins won and paid out accordingly.
For example, if 12 golfers paid into the Skins pot then a total of $240 is up for grabs. If three different golfers earn one Skin, then each of the three will get $80. If one golfer earns three Skins and two golfers earn one Skin, that’s five total Skins, so the pot is split five ways, making the value of each Skin $48. The first golfer will get $144 while the other two golfers get $48.
There are a few variations that can add a fun twist to any “friendly’ Skins game. The first variation calls for groups to play the first six holes at one Skins value, the next six holes at an increased value, and the final six holes at an even higher value (talk about raising the stakes).
The second variation of Skins is called “validation.” If the group decides to enact validation, a golfer who wins a Skin must validate that win by making the lowest score on the next hole (ties permitted). If the golfer fails to validate the Skin, it may be “stolen” by the player with the lowest score on the validation hole; however, the pressure is now on that golfer the win the following hole to earn both the stolen Skin and the Skin for the hole. This cycle continues throughout all 18 golf holes. Play at your own risk as this version frays both the nerves and taxes the beer-sodden brain.
Betting Tips to Win Big at Skins
There’s no secret sauce to winning big at Skins, the more birdies and eagles you make the greater your chances are for winning a Skin. But there are a few golf betting tips we can offer to maximize your chances. The first betting tip is to focus your attention on the par 3s. Every golfer has the same chance to hit it close because everyone is teeing off from the same spot, so capitalize on the opportunity to write a 2 on your scorecard. The second betting tip is to never lay up on a par 5. Plenty of golfers will birdie a par 5, but far fewer will make an eagle. So, go for the big bird and the big payday that comes with it.
Wait, why is it Called Skins?
Great question and honestly, there’s no definitive answer. But there are a few commonly offered explanations. The first, and most logical, is that some believe the Skins betting game arose from an old slang term for a one dollar bill. The second source – the USGA library to be exact – says that Skins is probably a simplified version for “syndicates” for which the game is known in other parts of the country. Another explanation, and perhaps the craziest of the bunch, comes from an old Scottish legend that claims furriers who arrived in Scotland took to the golf links and gambled with their pelts (or skins), and the name stuck. Personally, we like the last and may try it out ourselves.