Skins Games have provided countless memorable moments over the years. One man probably hasn’t gotten the proper credit he deserves for starting it all. Some may even say it’s the greatest format in golf.
While that last statement is up for for debate, there’s no denying the payday offered to those who compete.
The first Skins Game took place in 1983 at Desert Highlands in Scottsdale with Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Arnold Palmer, and Gary Player competing. Player won the event, taking home $170,000 (a big deal back then).
As The Challenge, a Skins Game in Japan featuring Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Hideki Matsuyama, approaches, we decided to take a look back at the biggest payouts in Skins Game history.
Greg Norman, 2001: $1,000,000
The event in 2001 at Landmark Golf Club in Indio, California, was the first and only time a player swept all 18 skins. Norman sent Tiger Woods, Colin Montgomerie and Jesper Parnevik home empty-handed.
It was also the only time in Skins history the validation system was used, meaning in order to collect your skin after winning a hole, you had to tie or win the next hole. Easier said than done. Norman 17th and tied 18th hole to collect $800,000, the record for largest skin on one hole. His $200,000 playoff win gave the $1 million prize.
Fred Funk, 2005: $925,000
Fred Funk taking home $925,000 is almost as surprising as Fred Couples, known as the King of Skins for his dominance in the event, getting shut out. It’s the first time in 12 appearances that he went home empty-handed.
Tiger Woods took home $75,000 while Annika Sorenstam went home with nothing. Sorenstam did, however, out-drive Funk, which lead to the event winner finishing the hole in a pink skirt.
Stephen Ames, 2007: $675,000
Ames defended his 2006 title, where he won $590,000, by claiming nine skins (eight via the 18th hole) for a grand total of $675,000. He won just two holes.
“That’s the nature of the Skins Game,” Ames said at the time.
Fred Couples, 2004: $640,000
After four playoff holes against Tiger Woods, Couples took the final three skins and a whopping $340,000 for a record fifth – and final – Skins win and $640,000 total. In 11 career appearances, Couples won 77 skins and $4,405,000.
Fred Couples, 1999: $635,000
Back again. Couples won four of the eight claimed holes for a grand total of 11 skins and $635,000. It was Couples’ third Skins win and, at the time, the largest total payout.