Explaining the 'Uglies' Golf Bet (It's Also Called 'Nasties')

A golfer celebrates holing out
Hole out from the fairway? If you're playing the Uglies side bet, you can also celebrate winning that. PeopleImages.com/DigitalVision/Getty Images

Uglies, also known as Nasties, is the name of a side bet in golf that rewards holing out from off the green. (These names - Uglies, Nasties - are also sometimes applied to another type of game, discussed below).

When playing Uglies, a golfer automatically wins the bet when he or she holes out from off the green. Knock it it from the fairway? You win the bet. Hole a pitch shot? Hole a bunker shot? You win the bet.

Obviously, golfers in a group need to set the amount of the bet before the round begins. As for paying out the bet: Let's say Golfer A earned $3 off Uglies; at the end of the round, Golfers B, C and D each chip in $1 to pay off the bet.

Exceptions to the Bet

Holing a putted ball from the fringe never counts as an "ugly" (or "nasty"). But what about chip shots from the fringe? That's up to your group. So be sure to clarify before the round starts whether your group will count them. Some golfers do, others prefer not to. Any hole-out from anywhere beyond the fringe (including when the putter is the club used for the shot) counts.

  • Usage example: "We're playing Uglies today guys, every Ugly is worth $5, shots from the fringe don't count."

Uglies/Nasties Usually Included in Larger Betting Games

For even the best golfers in the game, hole-outs from off the green aren't common. For recreational golfers, they are very rare indeed.

And that means that if the only bet your group has running is Uglies, it's unlikely anyone is going to win any money.

Therefore, many groups that play Uglies/Nasties include it as part of a larger game, such as the game alternately known as Garbage, Dots, Junk or Trash. That game (the names basically all mean the same thing) rewards golfers for many different kinds of accomplishments during a round, such as long drive on each hole, birdies, sandies, barkies and so on.

Uglies (hole-outs from off the green) are often included as one of the accomplishments in Garbage/Dots. (If playing one of these catch-all points games, chip-ins would most likely be counted as a separate bet known as Chippies rather than as Uglies.)

Alternate Meanings of Uglies/Nasties

There is another type of betting game, completely different from the hole-outs-from-off-the-green meaning described above, that is sometimes called Uglies or Nasties. The more common name for it is Trouble or Disaster. In Trouble/Distaster, points are "awarded" for negative achievements: Make a bogey? Hit into water? Three-putt? You "earn" points. At the end of the round, the golfer with the fewest points wins.

As noted, that format is more likely to be called Trouble or Disaster, but some golfers do refer to that as Uglies or Nasties.

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