quick coaching

Golf Games: Turn Skins Into On-Course Improvement

By Brendon Elliott, PGA
Published on

Recently I came up with a fun way, with some incentives, to have my teen students understand the components of scoring on the course and isolate the most critical areas.
And, boy, did it work!
It’s a spin on the age-old skins game. As you will see, the spin is in what players win a “skin” on. I was trying to think of a way to tackle a few items with my teen students, like understanding the importance of shots from 100 yards and in, putting, taking technique to the course, and being able to focus and grind better in a competitive atmosphere.
As many know, shots from 100 yards and in take up roughly 60 percent of all your shots during a round. Within that, 40 percent of those are putts. What I very, very often see from golfers, and not just my young students, is many shots lost in these key scoring areas.
Enter: a modified skins game.
In this trial run, we played an individual and two-person team stroke play and better ball game. The idea was to promote a personal drive to win the available individual skins, but through the team portion, keep going with your partner if you are out of a hole individually.
  • $5 for low front nine
  • $5 for low back nine
  • $5 for low total for 18
  • $1 skin (with carryovers) for lowest number of shots from 100 yards and in
  • $5 for team best-ball low front nine
  • $5 for team best-ball low back nine
  • $5 for team best-ball low total for 18
  • $1 skin (with carryovers) for lowest number of total shots from 100 yards and in for the team.
When we were done, we had a lengthy discussion on the total number of shots from 100 yards and in that each player had. We also looked at how that total comprised most of their total shots. It was very eye-opening for these four teenage competitive players. They always knew the stats regarding the short game in theory, but when you see the results in real-time, in a competitive setting, it makes a big difference.
The short game is an area where golfers, through some dedicated effort, can really improve their games rather quickly. You can take this idea of a modified skins game and plug in other vital statistical areas, such as fairways hit, greens hit in regulation, up and down percentage, total putts, sand saves, and more. I feel strongly that making it both an individual and team game will drive that motivation to keep grinding.
Give it a try! It worked very well for my teen players, and it can also work for you!