10 Aug Celebrate Golf Month With Your Own Putting Green
When the weather improves and golfers start thinking of wielding their cubs again, many golfers’ thoughts turn to practice.
Going to the driving range to get the swing going again is one thing, but as many golfers and teaching professionals will testify it’s the short game and especially putting that affects the scorecard. On average, around a third of shots in a round of golf are putts, so practice – if not making perfect – can certainly make a difference.
Good putting practice
When practicing putting the issue is usually where to find a surface that replicates the putting green. Putting on the carpet into a mug on its side doubling as the hole is better than nothing, but it doesn’t help you judge the speed of putts properly.
The practice putting green at your course may be an option, but you’ve got to get there. If your home course is several miles away, it’s a bit inconvenient and time consuming to drive over just for a bit of putting practice.
Some practice putting greens – especially some found at driving ranges – can be in poor condition and are likely to hinder rather than help your putting.
The artificial solution
Many professional golf courses are embracing the idea of practicing – and even playing in some cases – on artificial greens. The idea of turning part of your garden into a putting practice green with artificial grass may seem fanciful, but with modern techniques and expertise a long-lasting and accurate surface can be yours all year round.
Short game guru Dave Pelz has done just that and more at his home in Austin, Texas. Not only does he have synthetic grass, he’s reproduced some of the most famous holes in world golf such as the Road Hole at St Andrews, the 13th at Augusta National and the 17th at Pebble beach down to the famous green ringed by water.
To keep his short game even sharper he has a variety of putting surfaces at various angles and borrows to practice just about any type of putt possible.
You don’t have to go that far to create a practice area to help shave shots off your short game. Various UK courses, including former Ryder Cup venue Celtic Manor in Wales, have long been using synthetic practice greens, and it’s a surface endorsed for practice purposes by many heavyweights of the game including former European Order of Merit winning UK golfers Colin Montgomerie and Lee Westwood.
Artificial grass on golf courses?
While the day may be a long way off – if it ever arrives – where artificial grass would totally replace the real stuff, in some cases artificial greens are definitely viable. In some golf holiday destinations that rely on warm weather to appeal, the dilemma is in keeping the courses – and the greens especially – playable. Usually lots of water is needed, not to mention skilled and intensive care by greens staff who know what they’re doing.
Artificial greens would solve this problem. In arid areas an average putting green might consume around 1 million litres of water a year – multiply that over an 18 hole golf course and that’s a huge amount of water. In areas where water supplies are at a premium, artificial greens are an obvious attraction. They also need much less intensive maintenance than real grass.
In Luxembourg, the Kikuoka Country Club installed a six hole mini course with artificial greens complete with contours and the speed characteristics of natural putting surfaces.
Your putting green
You can tailor the type of surface you’d like based on your garden. If space is at a premium, then a smaller ‘putting strip’ could be installed instead of a bigger green. Don’t forget the other practice areas: perhaps laying artificial grass in a little area where you can practice chipping and pitching without digging divots in your prized lawn might be worth considering?
Don’t let the dark stop you. Without disturbing the neighbours, you can carry on putting when the light fails by maybe having a few garden lights near the green to see by – although that’s perhaps for the balmier spring and summer evenings rather than the depths of winter.
Golf Month in May (or August in the USA) are ideal ‘markers’ to resolve to work on your game and cut those scores. With your own artificial grass putting green, you can practice as often and as intensively as you like.
Artificial grass – a viable option
The old chestnut used to be the quality of the surface – can artificial grass really be anything like a real grass putting green? The answer is a definite ‘yes’ as testified by the golf clubs and professionals now embracing artificial surfaces.