The history of The Champions Skins Game begins with the birth of its older sibling, The Skins Game, in 1983. Don Ohlmeyer — a former executive producer with NBC who started Ohlmeyer Communications Company (now OCC Sports, Inc.) a year earlier — approached Barry Frank, senior corporate vice president at International Management Group (Trans World International) with an exciting proposal for a new televised golf event.
The Skins Game was an original concept for the television industry, but the popular betting format has been played by recreational golfers for years, adding spice and good-natured competition to many a round.
Undaunted by cynics, Ohlmeyer sensed that golfers everywhere would take to The Skins Game concept the same way they have to the friendly competition in their foursomes each weekend.
Ohlmeyer knew the key ingredients for a successful event would include the top players, big dollars and plenty of drama created by having that money pot available on each hole, with carryovers if nobody won the previous hole.
To make the idea a made-for-television hit, he and Frank invited four of golf’s greatest — Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Tom Watson — and convinced advertisers that The Skins Game was an outright winner. Advertisers immediately agreed with the event’s potential and jumped on board, turning The Skins Game into an instant success.
In 1988, The Senior Skins Game made its television debut, featuring the greatest players on the Senior PGA Tour, featuring golfing greats Chi Chi Rodriguez, Gary Player, Arnold Palmer and Sam Snead. In 2003, the tournament assumed a new name when the Senior PGA Tour changed its name to the Champions Tour. As a result, the event evolved into the Champions Skins Game. In 2004, Wendy’s came on board as the event’s new title sponsor.
In 2006, the tournament introduced an exciting new format: eight players competing in two-man teams. The change doubled the field to the delight of golf fans. Under this new formant, Raymond Floyd and Dana Quigley captured the first team win of this event, earning 10 skins and a record-setting $510,000.
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Champions Skins Game – Past Winners:
1989: Chi Chi Rodriguez
1990: Arnold Palmer
1991: Jack Nicklaus
1992: Arnold Palmer
1993: Arnold Palmer
1994: Raymond Floyd
1995: Raymond Floyd
1996: Raymond Floyd
1997: Raymond Floyd
1999: Hale Irwin
2000: Gary Player
2001: Hale Irwin
2002: Hale Irwin
2003: Lee Trevino
2004: Tom Watson
2005: Jack Nicklaus
2006: Raymond Floyd & Dana Quigley