An outdoor putting green makes honing your game as easy as walking out your back door.
Golf is a game that takes practice—and time. But what if there were a way to lower your score while spending more time with the family and increasing the value of your home?
There is: Install a backyard putting green. Most greens today are made from nylon and polyethylene fibers, which produce a near facsimile to real grass. Many also eliminate the need for sand fill, which allows the putting greens to maintain longevity and consistent performance with little upkeep.
In fact, a leaf blower is about all you’ll need, says Doug Preston, owner of Southwest Greens of Boston. Though most of today’s putting greens are fashioned out of synthetic turf, there still is a real grass feel. “You can actually hit shots into it, and the ball checks up just like a real putting surface,” Preston says.
Preston’s company, which charges around $17 per square foot laid down (backyard putting greens can range from 500 to 3,000 square feet, the latter about the size of a typical golf course green), also landscapes the periphery of the putting green with fringe, chipping areas, and even sand traps. Actual undulation is also incorporated into the green, making it a true putting experience. “A backyard green can turn a double-digit handicapper into a single-digit player; no problem,” Preston says
. Josh Powers owns Advanced Syntec in Santa Paula, California. Before digging out his clients’ yards, Powers brandishes a can of spray paint and, with the client, outlines the green—even X-ing out where the holes will go. “I actually have my clients putt on the dirt to help visualize it,” he says.
Invariably, most designers say that the best trait of an outdoor putting green is the maintenance—or lack thereof. Once the green is finished (most can be installed within a week), the only real landscaping tools needed are a leaf blower and a broom.
Drainage is also a snap; most putting greens are built on porous bases, so water runs right through. “These greens are built to be used all year long, in any weather condition,” Preston says.
When working with a putting green designer, collaboration is important to ensure results. That means staking out the area and measuring distances to make sure there’s enough room for chips and pitches, says Robert Pressman, a principal with TGP Inc. Landscape Architecture (tgpinc.net) in Encino, California. Pressman recently added a backyard putting green to his own home and recommends that greens be constructed in irregular shapes with elevations. “It allows for long and short putts and more difficult ones, too,” he says.