My Final Thoughts on Skins

A quick note:  I checked to see if playing in a small group (4 or 5) as opposed to a large group (10 to 13) made any difference.   Even though there is more money involved with the larger group it appears that group size doesn’t matter.

Assuming the handicaps are correct, all have an equal chance to win the 3 Stableford skins where the money goes to the two who had the best day.   For the other 22 skins you have an idea who is more likely to win the skin(s) because you do know who has a stroke (or 2) and who is more likely to get it closest to the pin on par 3’s.   If someone is “more likely” to win a skin then it isn’t random.

Luck is random and averages out in the long run.  You have no way of knowing at the start of a hole that you are going to beat the others by sinking a 40 foot birdie putt.   It is the randomness of luck that makes the Skins game fun.

The big question — Is the Skins game fair?    I have defined fair as having an expectation that all the golfers will neither win nor lose a significant amount over a period of time.   I was determined to show that Skins is grossly unfair.   To my surprise even though Skins has it’s flaws it is not grossly unfair.    It is most fair if all in the group have similar handicaps — not possible with SMAF.    It is reasonably fair if the group has a balance of good, average and poor golfers.   The more golfers there are with a similar handicap the more unfair it gets.  As shown in the last post with the numbers for Bruce and Woody that if another one or two excellent golfers showed up they would be competing for the same money and they would lose significantly in the long run.

Golfers with 30+ handicaps will get a few 3-pt holes and maybe a 4-pt hole or two.  One or two such golfers isn’t a problem.   If there are 3 or 4 of them you would probably find that it would seem like they were taking turns with their 4-pt pars and 3-pt bogeys and splitting up most of the money among themselves.

I was successful during my last month because the number of those with 19 – 24 handicaps is small.   Marc very rarely showed up and Graham wasn’t playing particularly well.   Had there been 2 or 3 more with similar handicaps I would have had more competition on the holes where I had the slight advantage and thus not done as well.   For exactly the same reason Marc did very well during the 2 months that I was away.

Our recent visitors did poorly because they all had similar handicaps.   Also, the transition to Birdie inflated SMAF handicaps by a stroke and sometimes two.   The visitors had little chance of breaking even.   For them IT WASN’T FAIR AT ALL.

My recommendations:

—  Handicaps have to be “exactly correct”.  Having an extra stroke does make a difference in a Skins game.

— Visitors and returning regulars should be given a 2 stroke bonus until they win.   Winning is fun.   Losing and feeling cheated is not.  You want them to return — not go elsewhere.

— Skins games should not be more than once a week.   As I previously ranted on Aug 9th Skins makes it easy to manipulate your handicap higher.  Balance that out with rounds where every stroke matters especially team games.