Sharpen Your Game With A Practice Putting Green
If you're one of the millions of golfers who neglect the putting surface in favor of the driving range, it might be time to invest in an indoor putting green. You don't need a large house or bundles of money. A portable putting surface can easily be assembled in a garage, games room, or spare bedroom for a fraction of the price of a new carpet!
Putting has been described as 'a game within a game'. Knocking that short par putt into the center of the hole certainly feels like a different challenge to smashing the driver down the middle of the fairway. Yet it doesn't matter whether your shot travels a few inches or 300 yards; it still goes on the scorecard. The importance of putting practice is often underestimated or overlooked entirely because the putting stroke appears simplistic when compared to the complexities of the full swing. Don't fall into this trap. Almost half of all golf shots take place on the green. This is part of your game that deserves your attention.
Thankfully, it's possible to groove that perfect putting stroke in your own home while you're listening to music or enjoying a beer after work. A portable practice putting green is an ideal way to improve your short game, unwind after a day in the office or simply have fun with friends and family. In this article we'll take a look at four of the best putting greens - ranging in price from $40 to $400 - and also discuss some important points to consider before buying.
Indoor Putting Greens: Five Points To Consider Before Buying
It's worth spending a few moments thinking about what you want from your practice putting surface and how it will fit into your home. Here are a few things to consider:
- Price - Portable synthetic surfaces are available from as little as a few dollars right up to several thousand dollars for a state-of-the-art custom made green. Prices usually reflect quality but that doesn't mean you can't pick up a realistic and effective product for a modest fee. If you're on a tight budget, scroll down the page to find out about the SKLZ Accelerator which retails for under $50.
- Size and Storage - Portable greens come in all shapes and sizes. Check the dimensions of the product before buying then measure out the area where you intend to use it in your home. You'll require enough room to take your normal putting stance and if you have any left-handers among your friends or family, make sure there's enough room for them too. One of the most practical qualities of a portable green is that you can roll it up or disassemble it and store it away. If you're lucky enough to have your own dedicated games room then this may not be an issue for you.
- Surface Quality - Strive to find a putting surface within your budget that is as realistic as possible. In terms of ball movement, the closer the surface is to real turf, the better. Use a spirit level to check that your floor is truly flat (unless you want to putt with break). It's also worth knowing that the speed of putting greens that roll out on top of your floor is affected by the firmness of the surface. Spongy carpets produce lower ball speed whereas a hard wood floor will result in faster putts.
- Contour - Do you want to practice straight putts, uneven putts that break left/right or both? Many of the higher priced products come with accessories that allow you to manipulate the contour of the green so that you can train yourself to nail those tricky sloping five footers.
- Cleaning - Most indoor greens can be vacuumed or washed with detergent and water. If in doubt, always check the manufacturer's recommendations. If the product doesn't contain any information about cleaning, try contacting the manufacturer via their website.
Tour Links Putting Aid on Amazon.com
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Tour Links Golf Training Aid and Putting Green
The Tour Links Golf Training Aid and Putting Green might be at the higher priced end of this product review but if you're serious about lowering your handicap then it's an investment that will pay generous dividends.
With six training tools designed to improve your alignment and putting stroke, this is an indoor putting green that takes your game as seriously as you do.
- String Guide - Shows you how to align correctly and lets you monitor your ball path as it rolls towards the hole.
- Ball Marking Tool - Enables you to mark your ball so you can judge whether it is rolling properly when you hit it.
- Stroke Groover Block - Helps you develop a controlled putting stroke .
- Alignment Guide - Tells you if your eyes are aimed correctly..
- Cup Reducing Ring - Makes the cup smaller so that you're forced to aim dead-center.
- Foam pads - Allows you to add undulation to the putting surface by placing the pads underneath the turf.
The Tour Links is available in three sizes - 7', 9', 13' - and consists of a solid, durable, plastic base and a synthetic turf that rolls out on top of the base. Unlike other indoor greens, this one is raised from the floor which means there is ample room for a proper golf cup to aim for. Cheaper greens, which are designed to roll out directly onto your floor, rely on an elevated section of turf to make room for the cup. Tour Links doesn't have this problem.
Allow 15-20 minutes to assemble the green. You'll need to push the base sections together, fix the cup in place with a screwdriver and roll out the turf (use double-sided tape if you want to secure the turf firmly to the base). Setting up is possible with one person but easier with two.
Tour links comes with an additional platform which gives you plenty of room to stand comfortably over your putt. This portable platform can be moved around the base, allowing both right and left handers to play together.
The synthetic turf is long-lasting (it comes with a 3-year guarantee) and gives a realistic and true roll - the stimpmeter reading measures around 9 or 10 which somewhere between the speed of the greens on your local course and those used on the PGA Tour.
Retailing between $360 and $500 depending on the size, the Tour Links Golf Training Aid and Putting Green isn't cheap but it will almost certainly prove to be a bargain if you're looking to develop a smooth, repeatable, correctly-aligned putting stroke. It will also make a great addition to a games room where you can host putting tournaments among family and friends. To increase the level of difficulty, simply add the cup reducing ring, making the target smaller, or slide the foam pads under the turf to create a sloping putts.
- Amazon Price: $360-$500
- Measurements: 7', 9' or 13'
- Weight: 66.4 lbs
- Extras: Six practice aids (see above)
- Warranty: Three years
Big Moss Augusta on Amazon.com
Big Moss Augusta Putting Green
The Big Moss Augusta Putting Green provides a naturalistic and spacious surface for the indoor golfer to practice his or her short game. Utilizing True-Roll technology, the Augusta is designed to mimic the surface of bent grass putting greens found on thousands of golf courses including the real Augusta in Georgia.
Measuring 12' by 4', the Augusta can be rolled out on your carpet or wooden floor and is ready to use in seconds. No tools are required. Its versatility makes it an ideal indoor putting green for those with limited space: once you've finished your practice session, simply roll it back up and put it away. Since the Augusta is not an elevated green (like some of the more expensive models) it is also possible to practice short chip shots with a wedge if you have enough room. If you've got a tendency to hit wild chips, you might want to buy some practice golf balls though.
The Big Moss Augusta comes with a 'snake break' device and two target holes. Slide the snake break under the surface and create different undulations so you're never short of challenging putts. Unlike the Tour Links Training Aid (see above), the Augusta has shallow cups due to the fact that the putting surface is not raised several inches from the floor. To accommodate the cups, the surface inclines slightly around the target area. Don't let this put you off though. Hitting sightly uphill helps to ingrain a positive putting stroke and will stand you in good stead when you're out on the course. The cups on the Augusta may be shallower than the 'real thing' but they also have enough depth to catch the ball easily.
Due the realistic feel of the turf and the versatility of the green, this is an ideal product for both low handicap golfers and those just looking to have fun with friends.
- Amazon Price: $275
- Measurements: 12' by 4'
- Weight: 15 lbs
- Extras: Snake break, backstop
StarPro Putting Green on Amazon.com
StarPro Indoor/Outdoor Putting Green
If you're looking to balance the need for a quality green against a tight budget then the StarPro Indoor Putting Green could be the choice for you. Coming in at a little over a hundred dollars, the 10' by 3' StarPro is an affordable training aid that could lower your handicap and give you hours of enjoyment without emptying your bank account.
Like the Big Moss Augusta, the StarPro is a flexible surface that can be rolled up and easily stored. Made from nylon with a nod-skid rubber base, this bent grass imitation surface has a stimpmeter reading of around 10.5 which can be reduced to 9 (closer to the speed of your local course) by using a leaf-rake or Beater Bar Vacuum to change the direction of the grain.
Since the StarPro lies flat on the floor and contains no elevation, the cups are extremely shallow - too shallow to catch a putt. Luckily, the company behind StarPro have come up with a solution in their patented Starball technology. The Starball looks a bit like a large plastic dandelion head and sits inside the cup, absorbing the energy of the putt and trapping the ball. This clever gadget shows you whether your putt was slightly left, right or dead-centre.
Although the StarPro comes with five potential holes, you can choose which ones to cut out and use. As you can see from the picture above, using all five holes would greatly reduce the your space and cramp your putting stance. Better to choose just one or two holes to fire at. And if you think the 10' by 3' green is too small for you, the giant 12' by 6' green retails at around $250.
This product is shipped with a few minor 'extras' including a two inch 'challenge hole' requiring greater accuracy. It doesn't, however, come with pads to enable you to create undulation. The manufacturer suggests that you add contour to the green yourself using sand-filled freezer bags.
- Amazon Price: $110
- Measurements: 10' by 3'
- Weight: 10 lbs
SKLZ Accelerator on Amazon.com
SKLZ Accelerator Pro Ball Return Putting Mat
The SKLZ Accelerator may not be the best indoor putting green on the market but don't be fooled by the $44 price tag and no-thrills look; this is a product that has the potential to knock shots off your game.
The Accelerator is a nine foot strip that reads between 9 and 10 on the stimpmeter depending on whether you lay the turf on carpet or hard floor. The hole at the end is elevated and although this might feel unrealistic, it actually serves an important purpose: it teaches you to accelerate the putter through impact and hit the ball with confidence. On the course, this translates well because it if often said that the golfer should aim to hit the ball with enough power to send it 18 inches past the hole.
The putting surface is marked with white guidelines at varying distances from the hole. This provides you with a simple yet effective way of monitoring your swing and ball path. Golf is a game of repetition and the Accelerator helps ingrain a repeatable swing by allowing you to hit shot after shot without having to move to retrieve your ball. A plastic slide next to the putting surface uses gravity to deliver the ball right back to your feet. And when you've finished your practicing session, just roll up the mat and return it to the cupboard.
If you're working to a tight budget, or just want a simple indoor green to groove your stroke from inside nine feet, the SKLZ Accelerator Pro Ball Return is ideal.
- Amazon Price: $44
- Measurements: 9'2" by 1'
- Weight: 4 lbs
- Guarantee: 90 days
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Drive For Show, Putt For Dough!
I hope you found this article helpful in your quest to find the best indoor putting green. Please feel free to leave feedback or product reviews in the comments section below. And when you're tempted to go to the driving range instead of working on those five foot puts, remember what the professionals say - "Drive For Show, Put For Dough!"
Doc Wordinger (author) from Manchester, UK on February 25, 2015:
Interesting idea Hazel but I'm far from convinced that this is necessary. Golf is a game of precision and the golfer is forced to concentrate on every shot, even two foot putts. The challenge is not over until the ball is safely in the cup. With larger holes (18cms is your suggested size), you're actually getting less golf for your money because those two foot putts become gimmes. Yes, golf can be frustrating at times with such a small target to aim for but I think this helps develop patience and concentration.
Golf can be a difficult game for beginners and there might be a market for 'easy' golf courses with shorter holes and fewer hazards. This would be a good way to introduce new players to the game and keep the occasional golfer interested. Larger holes would be ideal for beginner courses like these.
Hazel on January 06, 2015:
Wouldn't it be easier to just get the gvoerning bodies to enlarge the hole a bit? I'd say since there's 18 holes on the course, then make the hole 18 centimeters. That would help everyone in so many ways; less three putts, lower scores, faster rounds, more rounds played, more income for the courses. Perhaps each green could have two holes, one standard, one large. It would go with play it forward . You could call it super-size my hole or play it large or something.