Golf Format Explained

Skins Golf Rules

In a round of skins golf – also referred as a skins game – golfers compete against the other members of the foursome. A skin is awarded to the lone golfer who posts the lowest score for each hole; no skin is awarded in case of a tie. The golfer who has won the most skins is declared the winner.

How to Play a Golf Skins Game

Each golfer hits his own ball throughout the round but after each hole scores are compared. If one of the scores is lower than all others for that hole then that player is awarded 1 skin and the golfers proceed likewise to the next hole until the end of the round. In case of a tie, no skin is awarded for that hole and again the players proceed to the next hole. The unclaimed skin however is carried over to the next hole, whose value rises by 1 to become worth 2 skins and so on. Since there are 18 holes to play there are 18 skins up for grabs.

How to Win Skins Golf

The golfer who has managed to accumulate the most skins during the round is declared the winner.

How to Handicap Skins

Like most golf game formats skins can be played either gross or net. In Net Skins handicap modifications are introduced to level the playing field. Simply compare the handicaps of the golfers in the group and take note of the difference between each handicap and the lowest of the group. That difference will equal how many holes that player will have a stroke over the golfer with the best handicap. Simply consult the scorecard to determine which holes the strokes will apply.

For example, let’s say a golfer with a 12-handicap is playing against a 4-handicap golfer. The difference between the two handicaps is 8. That means the golfer with the 12-handicap will have one stroke on the holes with stroke index of 1 through 8. In those holes, if the two golfers score the same, the 12-handicap will win the hole and the skin(s) associated and so on.

Variations of Skins Golf

No Carry-Over: In cases where holes end in a tie, a version of the skins game calls for no carry overs, meaning that the skin is not moved to the next hole but instead will remain unclaimed.

Varying values for skins: In another variation of the basic skins game, values can be attributed to the skins of each individual holes. For instance, some games attribute more value to skins won on hole in the back-9. For example, holes #1 to #9 could be worth 10 points per skin whereas holes #10 to #18 could be worth 20 points each. The winner of that match will be the one who has accumulated the most points, and not necessarily the most holes. This can lead to particularly entertaining end of rounds as golfers who are trailing can still close the gap mathematically.


Skins are often used when golfers want to play their own balls but yet want to compete with the other members of the foursome. It provides a twist on the typical ‘lowest score’ wins format that is normally associated with a round in medal play.

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