By Snyper on 10/25/10
Matt is an opinionated* golf enthusiast from Pennsylvania. He coaches at the high school level, molding the minds and swings of our next generation. His column will appear each Monday on ClubSG. Feel free to chime in with your thoughts and opinions of Matt in the comments. Don't hold back- because Matt won't.

Yeah, sure, golf is a lot of fun. But, whenever you can combine a round of golf with gambling and trash talking with your playing partners, that's when the game really becomes enjoyable. Almost every time I tee it up with my buddies, we negotiate some form of a wager on our rounds. Most often, we develop some form of a skins game.

Playing golf for skins is probably the most basic way to incorporate competition for money and not just for the pride of the lowest score. Sure, you can play someone of a similar ability based on stroke play, but if one player is even a little better than the other, it makes stroke play a lot less appealing. Thus, you develop a skins game. For those of you who may have never played for skins, a skin is basically just a point. Before the round, you agree on a monetary value for each point, be it a dime or twenty dollars. After the round, you simply settle up based on the total number of skins each player has earned.
The most basic form of earning a skin is winning a hole. If you win 5 holes, you win 5 skins.

Now, the fun begins when you start to discuss how a skin is earned. The most basic form of earning a skin is winning a hole. If you win 5 holes, you win 5 skins. In a foursome, guys will usually play a two tie all tie format. This simply means that if there are two guys tied for the lowest score on the hole, nobody in the group wins or loses any skins. It’s also common to play “carryovers” when using two tie all tie. This means that if a hole is tied, the next hole is worth two skins. If that hole is tied, the next hole is worth three skins and so on. I love the pressure that carryovers can cause after a couple holes have been tied!

Ok, so what are some more interesting ways to earn a skin? Well, this is where is starts to get interesting. It seems like every time I play with a new group, they introduce me to a new way to earn a skin. I’m going to try to cover most of the ones that I can remember and I’m counting on you guys to tell me about some that you have used and enjoy. Most guys play that birdies and sandy pars are also worth a skin. These are commonly known as “junk” skins. Junk skins are often determined to be worth two skins. This is referred to by those in the biz as “double junk”. Greenies are another form of junk skins. To earn a greenie, you must hit your ball closest to the pin on par threes. Obviously, you must be on the green to accomplish this, but you must also make a par on the hole. So, if you hit the green and three putt, you do not earn the greenie and the next par three greenie is worth two skins. Speaking of three putts, I have also played with guys who award everyone else in the group a skin if one of the guys has a three jack. So, three-putt on a par three when you were closest to the pin and you really get burned!

Obviously, when players in your group are of varying abilities, you need to have some form of handicapping. This can be pretty easily established based on the best player in the group. However, when you establish handicaps, you have to decide if the strokes that are given will count towards junk skins. In other words, if you get a stroke on a par five and make a sandy six, do you get credit for a sandy par? This is known as a “net junk skin”. Most of the time, net scores do not count towards junk skins. You have to be a pretty good negotiator to get net junk, but it is an option!
Junk skins are often determined to be worth two skins. This is referred to by those in the biz as “double junk”.

There are a lot of versions of crazy games that can be played during a round of golf with your buddies, but we’ll save those for later columns. Some of those games are complicated and confusing, but playing for skins is as simple as it gets. If you want to make it interesting, you can start adding some of the previously mentioned methods of winning a skin. Every hole is another opportunity to win some money, so one bad shot or hole doesn’t ruin your round. In fact, a bad shot into the bunker becomes an opportunity instead of a mistake. So, if you haven’t already, talk your buddies into playing for skins during your next trip to the links. If they are poor, play for dimes just for fun’s sake. If they enjoy the monetary pressure, play for dollars. Either way, give it a shot and enjoy the added spirit of competition. And, if you guys have any other good ideas for how to earn a skin, post it so the rest of us can give it a shot!

* Matt's views and opinions are his own do not necessarily reflect those of SkyGolf.

photo source

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