Golf Buzz

July 6, 2016 - 12:18pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
backyard, driving range
T.J. Auclair/
Can't carve out enough time to get to the golf course or the driving range, but still want to work on your game? Why not setting something up in your backyard.

If you work a lot of hours, have young children -- or both -- chances are you don't have much time to work on your golf game.

A round of golf is probably going to take between 4-5 hours. That's not going to happen during the week.

A trip to the driving range to hit a large bucket of balls could be a nearly two-hour roundtrip if the range isn't around the corner (assuming you're working on hitting golf shots and not just hitting golf balls).

You can only look at your swing in the mirror so many times before you're itching to get out and hit a real golf ball.

RELATED: One man's amazing backyard golf practice area setup

Lucky for you, we have a solution that will allow you to stay at home and get in some valuable practice whenever you have a spare moment. It's even the kind of thing that can be fun for the whole family: A backyard driving range/practice area.

It could be as simple as buying a net at your local golf store.

But, if you want to get creative, we have some ideas...

A practice area for less than $400

What you need: A couple of small turf mats ($30/ea), a portable golf net ($50), a storage container (around $150) with padlock, a bucket of balls ($50 for bucket of 100 recycled golf balls), a few targets (free -- use large rocks/boulders around the yard), a chipping net ($25) and a shag-bag ($30)

This is precisely the set up in the backyard of my parents' house. Over roughly 2 acres of land in the powerlines adjacent to their house, my dad put in a very basic -- yet highly effective -- practice area that has been working wonders on his previously non-existent short game.

In the area, he put a portable pop-up net between two telephone poles:

It's just right for when you want to take full swings with all your clubs and you really only need to use 3-5 golf balls. You can hit right off the grass, or use a small piece of artificial turf.

Let's get to the short-game, though, as that's at the heart of this particular backyard set-up.

There's a concrete drum in the middle of the 2-acre field. It's about 2 1/2-feet wide. We use this as our primary target, but there are plenty of things to aim at -- big boulders, specifically -- in the yard. Here's what the drum looks like:

You can use anything, really -- even a real golf flag from a sporting goods store. For us, the drum was just sitting around and had no other use, so we figured it'd be perfect.

At the back of the property, my dad put in a storage container he purchased at a box store. You don't need one, but it's certainly a time saver. In it, my dad stores a bucket full of real golf balls, a bucket full of foam golf balls ($15), small turf mats, the chipping net and the shag-bag. When you're ready to practice, just bring your wedges and the key to the container:

Also, not absolutely, positively 100 percent necessary, but I also recommend taking your rangefinder along with you. Unlike at the driving range where targets are marked off, the ones in your backyard are homemade. I like to shoot a variety of targets so that I can dial in my wedge distances while I practice:

I like to switch between hitting to the concrete drum and the chipping net:

When you're done, simply take the shag-bag to pick up all the balls and then start over:

There's your at-home practice area for less than $400. 

July 6, 2016 - 11:22am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
practice area
T.J. Auclair/
Want to get a little more elaborate with your backyard golf setup? Check out one man's amazing backyard setup in northern Rhode Island.

We showed you how easy it is to build your very own backyard golf practice area for not a lot of money.

This is the opposite of that. 

The "money is no object" practice area (Or, as my dad and I also like to call it, "Chris's backyard")

What you need: A lot of experience with heavy machinery (or hire someone who does), lots of money and a spouse who supports your crazy obsession with golf

Chris is my dad's neighbor who lives about a mile away. My dad has gotten to know Chris over the last couple of years from seeing him on the morning walk with his dog.

One day, my dad noticed something in Chris's backyard. It was like walking into an episode of MTV Cribs:

Yep. That right there is in the neighbors backyard. This, my friends, is the ultimate backyard golf practice area.

As it stands now, Chris has two tees set up in two different spots on his sprawling property. One is about 40 yards -- carrying water the entire way -- from his artificial practice green:

The other is from a mini-cliff, roughly 70 yards away (he also has plans to install a second green, which will be roughly 120 yards from the first tee):

I mean, couldn't you just practice here all day? Along with those longer pitch shots and lob-wedge shots, you can also chip and putt:

And Chris has thought of everything. Not wanting to go diving for water balls every few days to reload his bucket, Chris purchased two key items for his backyard practice area that come in incredibly handy and also keep (some) costs down. The first is floating range balls:

Chris has a skimmer to get the balls at the edge of the water, but for the ones that find a watery grave in the middle of his beautiful pond, Chris has this peddle boat:

Pretty sweet, isn't it?

Chris is a handy guy and does a lot of the work in his backyard by himself. Even with that, for a set-up like this one, you're talking 10s of thousands of dollars.

I don't have the extra dough for that. So, for now, I'm happy to use what I can in my backyard (a fantastic net by The Net Return, $595 -- pictured below) and then travel just five miles away for the open invitation to Chris's house.

July 5, 2016 - 11:34am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Danny Willett
@Danny_Willett on Facebook
There was no mistaking who Danny Willett was at Wimbledon on Monday. The 2016 Masters champion wore a yellow Augusta National tie along with his green jacket.

Wimbledon -- arguably the most prestigious event in tennis -- is going on right now in England.

In golf terms, it's safe to say that Wimbledon is the "Masters" of tennis. And, in tennis terms, fans of the sport might tell you that the Masters is the "Wimbledon" of golf. Whichever way you decide to look at it, let's all agree that they're both pretty darned big time.

With big-time events come big-time spectators.

At Wimbledon, golfers have come out in droves. Jack Nicklaus is there. Ian Poulter was there. Luke Donald was there. Lee Westwood was there. More will make it there this week before next week's Open Championship.

When one goes to Wimbledon, they get dressed to the nines if they're VIP.

With that in mind, check out the get up from 2016 Masters champ Danny Willett from when the Englishman attended Wimbledon on July 4:


First-time Masters winner sitting next to a record-setting six-time Masters winner? That's not bad either.  

July 5, 2016 - 8:36am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
USA Today Sports Images
Last week, we gave you a list of things that drive us crazy on the golf course. Thank to your incredible response, we've compiled a list of things that drive YOU crazy on the golf course (like when people don't rake the bunker).

Early last week, we put together a list of the nine things that drive us crazy on the golf course. In case you missed it, you can read it here.

Not surprisingly with such a hot-button issue for golfers, our list opened up a can of worms when we shared it on social media. Hundereds responded. People agreed, disagreed and even added to the list. Extra fun, too, was when some tagged friends in the posts to call them out for being guilty of the mentioned infractions. Nice.

Here is our favorite feedback from the story:

From people who hated the list...

Zach Braun: Get over yourself. Honestly I don't really pay attention to what the other players in my group do as long as they are ready to play when it's their turn. Even players talking to each other during my shot has never bothered me.

I think Zach missed the point. It was pretty much about others being ready to hit when it's their turn and also showing a little common courtesy to those who were ready to hit.

Eric Buist: I agree, this article was a big whine piece. I'd rather play with the people criticized in this article than play with the guy who wrote it.

To each his own.

Joe Prevost: Get over yourself!!! It's obvious you would be a nightmare to spend 4 plus hours with. I don't care if people check their phones and do other things as long as it doesn't slow play up for field. Wanting someone to carry an extra ball just in case they lose the first shot? Wow micromanage freaky a bit???

Bobie Beard: Sounds as you have a problem with your game and insecure with abilities. Stop blaming others it's a golf game and learn to separate yourself from actions of others.

Hey, maybe it is just me.

Jason Newsome: Mine is finding out I've been paired up with TJ Auclair.

You're not alone, Jason.

RELATED: Biggest golf course pet peeves | Golf's unwritten rules | Rules on gimmes

From people who added to the list...

Michael J. Spencer: People who pout after hitting bad shots. No one is good enough to pout about their game if we are playing together. It's golf, bad shots happen and I didn't play today to see a grown up sulk for 4 hours on a golf course. Make the next shot.

Preach! This is a great one that probably should have made the original list. Nothing ruins a casual round faster than the 30-handicap who agonizes over every shot he hits as if he was expecting to hit it like Ben Hogan.

Josh Hays: Things that annoy me are more people related... Like the guy saying that technology is the only reason I'm hitting it 30 yards further than him from two tee boxes behind him. It's like no, you're swing stinks and you're uncoordinated so of course that's gonna happen. Also the guy who complains or brings up handicap in a friendly round or any round for that matter. Handicaps are dumb and only bad players worry about them. Also the guys that get grouped with you and won't shut up the entire time. I'm ok with chatter and light convo during my swing but don't tell the punch line of your joke and make your childish buddy bust up laughing as I start my swing. Basically the lack of common sense from people annoys me the most.

Blanco Hernandez: Biggest should be when you hit your shot and actually lose it, sun, dirt/sand or track, and you look over to ask your buddy and see their nose in their phone as they look up with a blank stare and ask, good shot?

Taylor Straton: Agreed. No phones in the holy sanctuary of golf.

Johnny Cruz: If I'm walking in the high stuff with clubs in my hands, kicking leaves -- don't ask me, "Find it?"... As a matter of fact I did. I just thought while we had a group behind us that I'd search for a few rare Civil War coins.

This one deserves a golf clap. Well done.

Jim George: I hate it when the player putting ahead of you uses his putter as a crutch to bend over and get his ball out of the hole leaving a gash in the green in your putting line. I see the pros on TV do this all the time. Can't they just bend over and pick up their ball?

Donna Feldman Olson: One of the first lessons my dad taught me -- always have an extra ball in your pocket when you tee off. I have never understood people that can't grasp that simple concept.

Derek Moore: Having a guy in front of you wait for the green to clear from 280 yards out when he has never hit a ball 230 yards in his life.

Bill Kissick: Honestly, the one thing that bothers me the most, unless it's a once or twice accident, is the group behind me hitting too soon. It's just common sense to look ahead and be sure you're not about to put one across my bow. The other stuff generally isn't worth worrying about.

And great advice on how to stop ^^:

Justin Irish: Really passive way to let them know: place the ball on a tee for them to find. Gets the message across really well in my experience.

Ken Rhodes: You're group is walking off the green... here comes an incoming missle... glare back... "it was an accident. Sorry"... How is it an accident when you make a conscious decision to hit the ball when we're still on the green? You can take the smartest person in the world, put him/her on a golf course and have the potential to turn him/her into a complete idiot!

Satya Ramnarain: That cellphone one is the scourge of every sport, hangout, activity... almost everything we do in our normal day to day lives, is affected by morons on the phone all the time.

Jeff Koolmo: One thing I stress to my son when we play: RESPECT THE GREENS! Treat them as if you were walking on a thin sheet of ice. Don't jump. Don't kick and drag your feet. Don't lean on your putter. Always keep it clean in every way possible.

Brian Richardson: I hate playing partners talking to my ball. I know I just skulled a chip across the green. I don't need you yelling "get down." #keepyourmouthoffmyball

Paul McGraw: Take the USGA advice; play up a tee box. Also keep up with the group in front of you -- pay attention.

Rich Blandford: You forgot, people who don't buy a beer for you when they buy one for themselves.

Tom Elliston: Kindly drive to the next tee BEFORE you score your hole. Don't be a target.

Brandon Durfey: Great article... Guilty of a few like everyone else, but definitely not a habit. These things drive me nuts too.

Tyler Major: I also don't want my playing partner to comment about my putt before I hit it. Sure you had a similar putt. You struggled to get it to the hole. I saw it. You don't have to tell me how slow my putt is going to be.

Jim Lawrence: That 25 handicapper, standing next to the 150-yard marker, who pulls out the range finder... just to be sure.

I would add to that the four 25-handicappers playing together, all with GPS watches on, who see a five-yard differential between their watch to the middle of the green and the 150-yard marker to the middle of the green and ask each other, "So do you think it's 145 or 150?" Who cares? Wouldn't you be delighted to hit it within five yards of your target?!

Jason Riddle: Mine is when I'm putting and someone stands right behind the hole. Drives me nuts.

Victor A. S. Williams: Sunflower seeds on greens blow my mind. It is easier to comprehend and understand black holes, string theory, and the concept of infinity than it is to understand how careless, selfish, and stupid a person has to be to spit hard matter all over a putting green.

Andrew Ulsh: I was an assistant superintendent at a Florida golf course... I have left the industry because of the lack of respect from the golfers towards the golf course. There is a lot of hard work in some very adverse working conditions for you jokers to go out there and treat the course like your personal playground... grow up and learn some respect.

Gary Anderson: 1) Players who hit longer tee shots and drive up ahead of shorter hitters, before they've hit their second shots; 2) Getting unsolicited playing or equipment tips from strangers; 3) Worst: Players who don't repair their damage to course as they play (includes bunker raking).

Don Wichman: Music from the cart. It's happened a few times when being paired up with strangers. Even with music I like it is distracting. I don't think it should be allowed. Not everyone likes rap or country.

Christopher Fagan: When the group behind you pulls all the way up to your cart on tee box when your group is teeing off. Hang back a bit guys.

Mark Shelhammer: Someone giving "lessons" on the course during a round. Usually they're only a little bit better than the person that they're instructing.