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.
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.