How to create a home golf practice facility for junior golfers
For aspiring junior golfers that live in climates that do not allow for year round outdoor practice, a home golf practice facility, whether indoor or outdoor, is a great option and easier to do than you may think.
Options vary greatly from a simply net and artificial turf golf tee mat in the basement, garage or even living room, to a high tech set up that includes an indoor flight scope that measures for club head speed, launch angle, ball spin, smash factor etc. and that has a high resolution course simulation that allows you to "play" various courses. However, it doesn't have to be too sophisticated to be effective!
The two most important factors are (i) safety - you do not want balls bouncing off basement or garage walls or into neighbors' houses, and (ii) the hitting mat needs to be good enough quality to simulate a grass hitting surface and also provide enough cushion to prevent arm and wrist injury from repeated blows on a hard surface.
Below we set out a range of options that are good quality and will fit most budgets and practice areas.
Hitting Nets for Home Golf Practice
PodiuMax Golf Hitting Net
The PodiuMax Golf Hitting Net is easily assembled inside or outside for convenient home golf practice and driving range like experience in your home, backyard or basement. The netting is made of knotless tetoron that has a high abrasion resistance allowing it to withstand full shots including drives.
The ball return feature of the net is a nice touch and certainly makes practice more efficient. We like that the frame is made from 3 thick steel tubes that wont break as easily as graphite or fiberglass if they are accidentally hit. Dimensions are 10' wide x 7' high x 3' deep. It weighs 20 lbs and comes with a carry bag for easy storage and portability. The reviews of this practice net are very positive and buyers like the quality and durability of this product.
Rukket Haack Golf Net
The Rukket Haack Golf Net is endorsed by University of Georgia golf coach, Chris Haack. The innovative design allows for the practice of equally innovative golf shots from wedge to driver and is designed with durability and dependability in mind. The 4-ply knotless netting is designed to take a beating and roll the ball back to you.
The dimensions are 10' wide x 7' high and it weighs 21 lbs. Users like the net's stability, durability and solid structure. It also has a lifetime warranty which adds a level of consumer confidence.
Spornia SPG-7 Golf Hitting Net
The Spornia SPG-7 net is a patented training net which features an automatic ball return for hassle-free repetitions so only 1 ball is required. The automatic ball rolling system prevents damage to the ball and surface upon which the net is set on and is ideal for home golf practice.
The net has a large target area with lines that show ball feedback and is made of a patented material that absorbs sound and speed at impact. White lines on the bottom aid foot alignment. It also includes a patented two-hole adjustable angle of the net so players can adjust for golf shots with different elevations - e.g. a wedge vs a driver.
The dimensions of the system are 9' high (i.e. with the optional $30 roof) or 7' high (without the roof) x 7 width x 8' deep. It weighs 19 lbs and can be used indoors and outdoors. It carries a 1 year frame warranty. It also comes with 2 chipping target nets.
Net Return Pro Series Golf Net
The Net Return Pro Series can be used for multi-sport use. It is USA made and utilizes a quick color connect system for easy installation. It is easily transportable in an bag that comes with the set. The dimensions are 7.6' high x 8' wide x 3.6' deep and weighs 28 lbs.
This system can be installed inside/outside and utilizes a tubular aluminum frame, a heavyweight polyester net and a nylon pack cloth sleeve for stability and durability.
According to the company that sells The Net Return Pro Series, it is used by the MLB, NFL, PGA Tour, U.S. Military and Professional and Amateur athletes. This is a premium product and the price reflects that.
DIY Net Options for Home Golf Practice
Many golfers are DIY fans - either for the enjoyment of creating something themselves or to save some money on expensive retail products. A DIY golf hitting net is a great project for such folks and also a great way to get the kids involved!
There are many options for making your own indoor or outdoor golf hitting net. The most important aspect is to make sure you purchase quality, durable netting that has less than .75 inches between holes and is not elasticized, thus will not let golf balls through. A good net will also be made from materials that are weather resistant and thus will not wear out in one season.
A 10' x 10' golf impact netting, similar to driving range netting, will cost approx. $50. Here is one example we found on Amazon: Just For Nets Nylon Golf High Impact Net. A reinforced rope border will greatly assist in securing the net to the frame. Although a mesh tarp can also be used (and some people do in fact use it), it may become brittle over time resulting in holes and the need to be replaced, especially if installed outdoors. For this reason we recommend a quality sports net like the driving range netting linked above, especially for outdoor nets.
If hanging golf impact netting in a basement there are a number of ways to do this, including simply putting sturdy hooks into the walls, corners or beams - or installing a curtain railing on the ceiling with the curtain hooks attached to the impact netting. The curtain railing method also allows you to create a three sided cage that will ensure balls do not go bouncing around the room and provides an excellent home golf practice option.
The frame for a DIY outdoor golf net can be made from metal (as pictured above) or from PVC pipe, which is easier to use. PVC piping is readily available in any home improvement store or on Amazon, as are the angled joints that you will need. Below is a rough sketch of a DIY project done by a golf enthusiast. If you go the PVC route, a great tip is to fill the base with sand or water to make the frame more stable.
An even easier and quicker option for an outdoor home golf practice net is to hang the golf impact netting between two poles or even between two trees if you are fortunate enough to have a backyard that can accommodate such a set up.
Mats for Home Golf Practice
Indoor/Outdoor golf practice nets usually don't come with an artificial golf tee mat. There are many different options available at significantly varying price points.
When choosing a golf mat there is generally a trade off between the thickness of the mat and the price. Thicker mats made with superior quality woven nylon will generally have a rubber or foam pad base that absorbs impact shock. Thinner mats with no base pad can damage clubs and cause injuries to hands and wrists if used extensively.
Choices also vary from large "stand on" mats like you would find at a driving range or Topgolf, to smaller "hitting area" mats where you do not actually stand on the mat. The stand-on mats generally range from 3' x 5' to 5' x 5'. The smaller hitting area mats are usually only about 1' x 1'.
The choice of a good mat for your home golf practice is probably the most important aspect of the set-up. Below are some of the best golf mat options available.
Rukket Tri-Turf Golf Hitting Mat
The Rukket Tri-Turf golf hitting mat is a portable, small hitting area, high quality golf hitting mat that allows practice from any lie, whether its fairway, rough or on the tee. The smaller mat option measures 25" x 16" and has an extra thick rubber base that keeps it in place during your practice. The larger mat option measures 36" x 23.5".
A 16mm (0.6") fringe turf gives a short game feel while the 35mm (1.4") rough and fairway turf gives you the feel of any approach shot. The product includes 9 practice balls and 12 plastic tees of various heights. It also carries the Rukket 100% lifetime warranty. It is a trifold design that folds easily into itself for storage.
Rukket Standing Golf Hitting Mat
If you buy the Rukket Tri-Turf Hitting Mat above, in order to be hitting off the same level as the ball (and so replicate conditions as closely as possible to course conditions), it is recommended that the Rukket Standing Golf Hitting Mat be purchased.
This also carries the Rukket 100% lifetime warranty. The mat includes a graphic for feet alignment and cutouts on either side fit all existing Rukket Turf Mats securely. The mat is 8 square feet (4' x 2'), weighs 7.3 lb and is made from heavy duty artificial turf with a thick padded base for stability and impact absorption.
All Turf Ultimate Super Tee Golf Mat
The All Turf Ultimate Super Tee Golf Mat comes in different sizes (4' x 5'; 5' x 5'; 3' x 5'). It is made of 100% spring crimped nylon material and is made in the USA. It will not fade, bunch, weather or leave marks on your clubs.
The mat itself is 2" thick with the 1.25" nylon artificial turf bonded to a 5/8th inch thick polyethylene foam using a specially engineered urethane stabilizing layer.
Unlike most other golf mats, this mat is engineered to accept a wooden tee (as opposed to the predetermined height and obstructed feel of a rubber tee) for more of an 'on-course' feel. The dense fiber mat also allows you to 'hit down' on the ball for better feel and practice.
Real Feel Golf Mats - The Country Club Elite
The Real Feel Golf Mats brand was engineered with comprehensive design input from PGA professionals, Physical therapists, Golf simulator manufacturers, Golf course superintendents and golfers. This mat is the choice of many professionals and golf clubs.
The reviews and feedback from golf coaches and golf academies has been overwhelmingly positive. The artificial turf density is 2x that of standard golf mats and provides for realistic ball/turf contact. Unlike other thinner mats, this mat will provide feedback for shots not struck well - e.g. hitting even slightly behind the ball will feel and react like a true "chunk".
It also takes a real tee and can be used inside and outside. At 50 lbs it is heavy, and stable under foot and feels like regular turf. This mat is certainly your best bet for an authentic hitting mat experience and is well worth the price for the golfer serious about practicing at home. That said, it is one of the most expensive mats on the market.
Practice Golf Balls
With the exception of hitting golf balls into a golf practice net in the basement, our junior golfers can only play with soft practice balls inside the house and around the yard.
The technology behind practice balls has come a long way. The first reviews are of two of the best golf practice balls on the market for feel and simulating actual ball flight at reduced distances. The third golf practice ball reviewed is a good one if your young junior golfer is just looking for some backyard fun.
Callaway HX Practice Golf Balls
Callaway HX Practice Golf Balls are durable, soft-flite balls that simulate actual ball flight. They also feature Callaway's HEX pattern dimples, and come in mesh carry bags of 9 or 18 count.
Color options include orange, pink or lime. Incidentally, if you use these with a golf simulator the lime-green color may work best with the low simulator light. Reviewers have compared these balls very favorably to the almostGOLF balls.
almostGOLF balls are the gold standard for practice golf balls. They are technologically balanced for true spin, trajectory and accuracy. The .32 COR rating (bounce factor) is about 1/3 of a traditional golf ball which allows the almostGOLF ball to compress slightly on impact like a real one.
The ball's true-flight characteristics allow you to accurately assess your golf swing and ball-striking. In simulator tests the almostGOLF ball has the same initial velocity, spin rate and launch angle as a traditional golf ball, and travels about 1/3 the distance. These balls are endorsed by golf instructor and short game guru, Dave Pelz.
Smartlife 15 Practice Golf Balls
The Smartlife Practice Golf Balls are soft and lightweight. They are practical and durable and good options for practicing in your home. They are made from a durable, soft resin PU rubber with a dimpled texture and don't fly very far. Apparently they are a favorite toy for dogs and cats too - so guaranteed to be a hit for the whole family!
Golf is a difficult game and the main reason junior golfers stop playing is that they just aren't having fun with it. Of course, as Gary Player so aptly put it, "the more I practice the luckier I get", you have to play and practice a lot to get better and reach a skill level where success breeds success and enjoyment.
Time and weather constraints often put a wrench in the best laid practice plans, but with dedicated practice options set up at home - there are just no excuses for the junior golfer (or their parents!)