Explaining the 'Back It Up' Skins Game Variation

"Back It Up" is the name of a variation of a skins game in which a golfer who wins a hole can then double the value by winning the next hole as well — by, in other words, backing up the first win with a second.

Let's give an example of how a skins game works when the Back It Up option is in effect. We'll set the value of each hole (of each "skin") at $1 for this example.

On the first hole, Golfer A wins the hole and, therefore, the $1. The second hole, like all the other holes in our example, is also worth $1.

But Golfer A wants to try to back it up, so he tells the other three golfers in his group that he is invoking the Back It Up option. This puts the $1 Golfer A won on Hole 1 on hold.

If Golfer A then does win the second hole, his earnings for both holes are doubled. The $1 he got for winning the first hole becomes $2, as does the $1 value of the second hole he won. So by invoking Back It Up and then by actually backing it up with another win, Golfer A turned that original $1 into $4 — he doubled the value of the two holes he won.

But if Golfer A fails to win the second hole, in our example, he not only doesn't get the value of the second hole, he also loses his winnings from the first hole. If you invoke the Back It Up option and then fail to do so, you get zero money for both holes.

If a different golfer in the group wins the second hole after Golfer A chose the Back It Up option, that golfer wins $2 — $1 for winning the second hole, plus the $1 that Golfer A forfeited from the first hole.

And what happens if that Back It Up hole is halved? Sticking with our example, Golfer A, the winner of the first hole, forfeits the value of that hole. So the value of Hole 1 and Hole 2 is now carried forward, making Hole 3 worth $3.

Playing in a group of four (you can also play Back It Up as a twosome or threesome), outright hole wins might be few over 18 holes. So choose wisely if you want to Back It Up. Consider how the next hole sets up for you, the way you've played it in the past, the way your opponents are playing right now. Likely, you'll want those considerations to all be positive to risk invoking the Back It Up option.

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