Golf Buzz

July 7, 2016 - 8:32pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Montana Pritchard/PGA of America
Do you struggle with staying calm when you get a little nervous on the golf course? PGA Professional Rob Labritz has some great advice for keeping those feelings at bay and excelling.

How many of you out there have let a great round slip away because the pressure gets to you at the worst possible moment?

We've all been there. It doesn't matter who you are.

For some of us, the meltdown might be this: You know you're playing great. You're on the verge of breaking 90 for the first time and it's weighing on you. "Wow! I'm finally going to do it."

What happens next? With three holes left, you start to tally up your score and tell yourself, "Man, all I need to do to break 90 is..."

Next thing you know you're hitting it sideways. You left "the moment" and thought too far ahead about your desired outcome.

RELATED: Tips for getting out of deep rough | Breaking 70 | 80 |90 | 100

We caught up with PGA Professional Rob Labritz to find out how the heck we can control those nerves instead of letting those nerves control us.

And Labritz would know a thing or two about that going both ways.

About 10 years ago, Labritz had a five-shot lead in the New York State Open at Bethpage Black with 3-4 holes to go. At around that time, he began thinking about how cool it was going to be to win such a big tournament at such a heralded course.

About an hour later, Labritz putted out on the last hole, signed his card and finished fourth.

"It was a crumble and I didn't know how to handle it," admitted Labritz. "I wasn't prepared for it. I told myself I had I won the tournament before I won the tournament. You can't do that in the moment."

On the other end of the spectrum are the times in recent history when Labritz has embraced the situation and used the nerves -- he prefers to call it "adrenaline" -- to his advantage. And by recent history, we're actually talking about the last week and a half.

In the PGA Professional Championship at Turning Stone Resort in Verona, N.Y., last week, Labritz knocked down an incredible 35-foot putt for birdie on the 72nd hole to secure his fifth appearance in the PGA Championship at Baltusrol in just a few weeks.

Earlier this week, Labritz joined the likes of Paul Runyon, Claude Harmon, Doug Ford and Ben Hogan as a winner in the Westchester Open. You want to talk about staying calm under pressure? The tournament was played at Labritz's home course -- GlenArbor. It's not easy to win when you've played a course more than anyone in the field, and because of that, are probably expected to do so.

So how did he do it?

"It all starts with your preparation," Labritz said. "I'm not just talking about hitting balls. You have to tell yourself -- and put yourself -- in that situation when practicing. It's 'situational practice.' Grab a club out of the bag, put the ball down, go through your full routine and say, 'I'm on the 18th hole at the club championship and I need to get this in the fairway, on the green and hit two putts for par to move on.'"

If that's the way you practice, Labritz said, it won't be foreign to you when you find yourself in the real situation.

"You need to have logged in a lot of hours," he stressed. "In that moment you've got to almost feel like you have been there in that moment before because of the practice you put in. You have to believe you're in that moment to feel that situational practice. The butterflies, the excitement, the adrenaline -- whatever you want to call that feeling -- and develop it."

For Labritz, that feeling is adrenaline. And that adrenaline rush is the reason he plays the game.

"It's definitely adrenaline for me," he said. "People confuse that with nerves. Whatever that feeling is, you're going to have to embrace it to get your desired outcome. You shake. It happens. When you're scared, the negative thoughts come out. If you embrace it, you heighten your focus. You have to embrace that state and get power from it. The more you go through it, the more you learn how to handle it. It comes with experience. There are times I have gone in and failed -- many times. But that's golf. You learn from it. "

And again, this isn't just for the competitive player. If anything, it's exactly the thing that keeps high handicappers from shooting lower scores.

"High handicappers get all messed up when they're playing well and chasing a score because they worry about crafting shots they haven't hit yet," Labritz said. "They hit a bad shot and it snowballs. Yes, you want to see yourself in the future doing great stuff, shooting lower scores, but you also have to remember you can only hit one shot at a time. Once you're in the moment, you know you're in a heightened state. Embrace it. Stay in the present and focus on the shot at hand."

You know when you hit that bad shot and let it snowball like Labritz mentioned? It's because you've talked yourself into bad things.

Don't do that.

"Talk yourself into what you want to do," Labritz said. "'I want to rip it down the middle.' Do that. And if you don't, do it on the next shot. You can't control the past, but a positive mindset and extreme focus can help you impact your future."

Rob Labritz, who has played in four PGA Championships (he was low-Club Professional in 2010 at Whistling Straits), is currently the Director of Golf at GlenArbor Golf Club in BedFord Hills, N.Y. He was also the PGA Met Section Player of the Year in 2008 and 2013, as well as the Westchester Golf Association's Player of the Year in 2002, 2003, 2008, 2013 and 2015. You can learn more about Labritz at and you can follow him on Twitter, @Rlabritz

July 7, 2016 - 3:41pm
Posted by:
Matt Craig
matthew.craig's picture
golf marathon
Twitter / WSJSports
Danie Steyn and Bill Boonn played 153 holes in a single day without a cart, walking over 45 miles.

There's a commonly held sentiment amongst sports fans who don't watch golf, especially those that have never seen Dustin Johnson hit a tee shot. "Golfers aren't athletes." You've heard it, you've argued with your friends about it, and as untrue as it is it's tough to shake.

That accusation will never be made about Danie Steyn and Bill Boonn.

The Wall Street Journal had the story of Steyn, 29-year-old a golf instructor, and Boonn, a 41-year-old radiologist, spending a sunny day playing golf, something we can all relate to. But that's where the similarities stop.

They teed off at 5:26 a.m., and didn't stop playing golf until 6:46 p.m. In between? How about 153 holes without a cart, logging 83,592 steps. The eight and a half rounds required 45 miles of walking, the equivalent of almost two marathons.

And the pair played some decent golf, playing an alternate shot format that tallied 705 total shots, which comes to an average of about 83 per round.

They started off sharing a bag, jogging between every shot in their morning rounds. In the afternoon, they decided to carry just two clubs each, splitting a 4-hybrid, 8-iron, sand wedge and putter.

The concept is one of the more unique ways to raise money for charity. Here's an exerpt from the full story:

The outing was part of a network of golf marathons called Hundred Hole Hike, in which people walk and play 100 or more holes in a day to raise money for a charity of their choice. For Steyn, that was the Junior League of Philadelphia. Boonn played for the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

The concept took root in 2011, when a Chicago banker named Jim Colton raised more than $110,000 by walking 155 holes in a day for a caddie who had been paralyzed in a ski accident. The following year, he started the charity that oversees the hikes. Now, they attract nearly 100 golfers per year. There have been hikes across the U.S. and a few in Canada, Scotland and Australia.

Do you think you could walk 100+ holes in one day? And if had to pick four clubs to do it with, would they be the same ones as Steyn and Boonn?


July 7, 2016 - 2:39pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Holderness and Bourne
Holderness and Bourne
Holderness and Bourne offers fine polos and plenty of accessories for the golf course.

Over the course of a given year, I'm able to get an up close look at some incredible golf gear. Periodically, I like to compile a product round-up of some of my favorites.

Here's a peek at a list of items I've had the opportunity to test in the last couple of months that you may want to consider for your own game -- everything from clubs, to gadgets to apparel and more.

Let's break them down by product type.


TactiCool BAMF: You've never seen a golf bag like this one.

The BAMF (abbreviation for words that are NSFW) bag by TactiCool is an incredibly functional golf bag with a nod to our military. Available in Stealth Black, Coyote Brown, or Olive Drab, the BAMF bags utilize a MOLLE webbing system that allows you to attach as many or as little accessories you want.

TactiCool's Expeditionary Mode BAMF bag comes preloaded with accessories for your sunglasses, smartphone, water bottle, and more.

"We knew it was an excellent way to change out and customize parts and pieces, and we knew enough people with some kind of tactical background who also had other hobbies," said Jake Richmond, TactiCool's Chief Brand Officer, an Air Force veteran. "The tactical sensibility naturally includes the compulsion to customize your own 'loadout,' so when you combine that with other hobbies, it was clear to us that we weren't the only ones who would appreciate a MOLLE golf bag."

Another beautiful thing about this bag? You're not limited to just the sweet accessory offerings from TactiCool.

"We want our customers to know they can buy accessories from any MOLLE gear manufacturer, and it'll fit on their BAMF bag," Richmond said. "In other words, we're liberators, not monopolizers."

Added Chris Holland, TactiCool's founding partner and also an Air Force veteran: "The goal was to create something that empowered people to make their own loadout, instead of enslaving them to our little cult of products and forcing them to buy accessories from us. Buy the bag, then buy a pouch here, a patch there, and its all up to you."

If you're looking for a bag that's extra cool and like nothing anyone else has (for now), this is the bag for you.

Learn more at


Canoos: If there's a better crossover shoe for the summer, I have yet to see it. In a word, Canoos are "awesome." They're the type of shoe I never knew I wanted, never knew existed and -- now -- not sure I'd want to live with out.

The concept is brilliant. These are high-quality boat shoes with built in soft spikes on the sole. The soft spikes underneath are relatively short, which I love. There's plenty of traction on the course, but when you where them off the course, you don't feel as though you're wearing golf spikes.

You can wear them on the course, to the beach, out to dinner, with shorts, with slacks, with jeans -- whatever.

Quality golf shoes are expensive. Quality boat shoes are expensive. With Canoos, it's as if you're getting both for the price of one. Price: $150. You can learn more at

Ecco Speed Hybrid: When it comes to fashion these days, we're seeing lots of "throwback" gear -- a new spin/twist on an older look. Or, in the case of the Ecco Speed Hybrid, a new and improved spin on a throwback look.

The best way I can describe the Ecco Speed Hybrid is that they look like an old-school sneaker. But the technology behind this killer Ecco offering makes it way better than that old-school sneaker sitting in the back of your closet.

Ecco describes it like this: An outsole with molded traction bars combined with groundbreaking E-DTS® hybrid technology provides enhanced stability throughout your swing. The breathable leather uppers have Ecco's unique HYDROMAX™ treatment, which has water repellant characteristics.

Trying to save space in your luggage? With that sneaker look, these are fantastic to wear through the airport and then straight to the course when you land. Price: $180.

PUMA Ignite Spikeless: An argument could be made that these are the most comfortable golf shoes ever created. They're light and they fit and feel like your favorite pair of slippers.

Even when you wear these shoes for the first time, there's no "stiffness" whatsoever. It's as if they're already been broken in for you.

A "running performance foam" was used to give these shoes incredible cushioning. Along with the comfort, they look great too. Price: $120.


Fore Ewe Knitted Headcovers: Another example of that "throwback" look in golf, Fore Ewe knitted headcovers will let you add some spice to your golf bag with a nod to the past.

Mary Jackley, an avid knitter from Minnesota, is the mastermind behind Fore Ewe. All of Fore Ewe's yarn is skein dyed to make sure the colors are rich and consistent. Since June 2012, Jackley says she has designed and sold over 11,000 headcovers.

My favorite thing about Jackley's business is the fact that -- along with her catalogue of beautiful offerings -- she gives you, the customer, the ability to design your headcovers with the colors and patterns you want. And the turnaround time is amazing -- usually 2-3 weeks.

Overall, these are just beautiful, beautiful headcovers. Price: Starting at $35 and up depending on club and custom options.

Headgear Golf Leather Headcovers: Again, for me, it's all about customization these days. With companies like Headgear Golf, you can get the same level of customization as your favorite Tour pro.

Headgear Golf carefully cuts and manually stitches only the highest quality leather hides and line the inside with soft fleece for easy slip on and off. A double elastic pinch keeps the snug fit.

Headgear Golf has a bunch of stock offerings that are spectacular, but you can really make it personal with a custom design -- your favorite colors, the colors of your favorite sports team, etc. Price: $39 and up.


TaylorMade M2 3-wood: This club goes long... and straight. What more can you ask of a fairway wood? I suppose it's "look." When it comes to "look" I'm not sure anything tops what TaylorMade has done with its M1 and M2 offerings. They're just gorgeous to look at with the Carbon Composite Crown.

The sound upon contact is phenomenal. It just pops right off the clubface and is as solid a sounding club as I've ever hit.

The best part of the M2 fairway woods? They're not going to break the bank, ringing in at $249.

Wilson Staff C200 Irons: Looks aren't everything when it comes to golf clubs. It's all about performance. Luckily for Wilson Staff, the companies new C200 irons have both attributes going for it -- they're gorgeous, they're easy to hit and they're long.

Categorized as "crossover" irons, the C200s are made for the player seeking a midsize head shape and moderate offset with the type of distances you don't get from traditional irons. Wilson Staff's proprietary FLX Face Technology minimizes the contact points between the body and the thin face. These minimized contact points -- combined with a series of Power Holes around the entire perimeter of the face -- maximize face flex upon impact, resulting in increased ball speed and distance.

They're easy to swing and provide what every golfer is looking for: forgiveness on mishits. Price: $799.99 (steel 4-PW, GW).


Holderness and Bourne: When it comes to golf polos (starting at $88), Holderness and Bourne aren't looking to recreate the wheel. These are just classic, timeless polos made with modern fabrics that are lightweight and move with your body instead of getting stuck while swinging.

And when I say they're not "looking to recreate the wheel" I simply mean that this isn't "trendy" stuff. It's beautiful apparel that stands the test of time. It's all class.

The same goes for Holderness and Bourne's accessories. I was able to test out their Ouimet Scorecard & Passport Cover ($90); The Travis Valuables Case ($65); and The Crosby Shoe Bag ($125). Each of those accessories comes in three colorways: Annapolis Blue, British Khaki, or Nantucket Red.

The accessories all feature a premium water-resistant cotton duck canvas exterior, while the Ouimet Scorecard & Passport Cover and Crosby Shoe Bag also include pebble grain leather, a premium polished nickel zipper and blue bengal stripe oxford cloth interior.

Unlike a lot of valuables cases/pouches out there, the Travis Valuables case is long and easily accommodates today's bigger smartphones. It's thin design also makes it easy to slip in and out of the bag.

For more information, check out

Galvin Green: The same apparel that has been used to outfit European Ryder Cup teams, Galvin Green prides itself on making the types of garments that do not interfere with your golf swing.

With its VENTIL8 line, Galvin Green uses materials that transport moisture and excess heat away from your body twice as quickly as conventional offerings that come in polyester. The material disperses perspiration and moisture over a larger area, which allows it to evaporate faster.

As has been the theme here with apparel, we're all about ultimate comfort on hot summer days. This is the epitome of what Galvin Green offers with its VENTIL8 polos and trousers. They're light and they don't stick to you. What more can you ask for?

For more information, visit

Lululemon: If you've heard of this Canadian brand, it's likely because of its high-quality yoga gear. You may also think of it as a brand mostly for women.

If that's all you thought, please think again, because you're missing out... big time.

Lululemon also makes a bunch of great gear for men. And it's not just for yoga or working out. They have clothing for the golf course too -- polos, shorts and pants.

I tried out the Evolution Polo ($88). It is the lightest polo I've ever worn. Lululemon describes it as: A sweat-wicking, four-way stretch, and engineered to feel like your favorite broken-in tee.

They're not kidding. It feels just like a broken-in tee and there's nothing better than that feeling when you're spending a hot summer's day on the course. The shirts are a bit form-fitting, so if you like a little more room, go up a size.

For shorts, I tried out the Commission Short QWICK CHINO ($88) and the Works Short ($88). The pants included the ABC ($128) and the Commission Urbanite Swift ($128). Both the shorts and the pants include a stretch material that make them feel more like a pair of lightweight sweatpants than more golf-course/boardroom appropriate attire.

Being 100 percent honest, the ABC pants are the most comfortable pants I've ever worn. And on the golf course, they're just perfect. The back pockets are the ideal size for a yardage book or scorecard.

Speaking of which, I was recently on the road for the Senior PGA Professional Championship presented by KitchenAid, as well as the PGA Professional Championship. You know when you get a new car and you don't realize how many people drive that car until you're driving it yourself? The same can be said for the Lululemon ABC pants. I had no idea how many golfers wore them until I had them on myself.

The bottom line is this: Lululemon is no longer just for the ladies. Guys -- you don't know what you're missing if you don't try them out.

Find them at

Kentwool socks: Are you more of a walker, or the type that takes a cart when playing a round of golf?

Either way, Kentwool makes the perfect sock for you. Why socks don't seem like a big deal to many is beyond me. Golf is uncomfortable enough with everything you face on the course. Your feet shouldn't be a part of that equation.

Kentwool socks, made in the USA, are constructed with 58 percent Merino Wool, 31 percent Nylon, 9 percent Stretch Polyester and 2 percent Spandex. The best part about the socks? They have a blister-free guarantee.

For more information, visit

Devereux: I'd classify Devereux as a luxury golf brand without sacrificing comfort. Devereux's polos (65 percent Pima Cotton and 35 percent Polyester) have a touch-of-class look to them.

The thin material on the polos make them exceptionally comfortable and perfect for those hot and humid days on the course.

The same goes for Devereux's short, which are 90 percent Polyester and 10 percent Spandex.

Overall, it's an apparel brand for when you need to be a little more dressed up.

For more, check out

Garmin Approach X40: I have a confession to make... Since smartphones these days are practically attached to our person at all times, I figured it had eliminated my need for a watch.

Now, however, technology has turned toward the enhanced development of "wearables." Picking up on that trend is Garmin with its Approach X40 band. It's not just a watch. It's not just a golf GPS preloaded with over 40,000 golf courses. It also measures your shot distance, tracks stats such as putts per round, greens and fairways hit, is a digital scorecard and -- when connected to your computer or smartphone -- allows you to review your scorecard and round.

In addition to all of that -- and what separates the Approach X40 from its competition -- is its fitness tracking capabilities. It counts your steps, measures your heart rate, tracks your sleep, allows you to set fitness goals and more.

This is a golf watch that you never have to take off... except to charge, which you'll only need to do every 5 days in activity mode, or every 10 days in GPS mode.

Oh, and for good measure -- when synced with your smartphone, you can have text messages and call alerts sent to your wrist.

For more, visit

Golf Pride Tour SNSR Putter grips: Putting is all about feel and that starts with the grip you're cradling in your hands.

Golf Pride's Tour SNSR putter grips -- available in two styles and two sizes -- promote light grip pressure in the hands for superior control.

The counter of the grip encourages a more consistent, repeatable putting stroke. We can all use more consistency on the greens.

Visit to learn more. 

July 7, 2016 - 9:17am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Patrick Reed
@europeantour on Twitter
After playing a difficult shot from some heavy fescue at Castle Stuart on Thursday, Patrick Reed slipped while climbing back down a hill.

One of the best events in golf is going on this week -- the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart.

Many of the game's biggest stars are playing, as they prepare for next week's Open Championship at Royal Troon.

Patrick Reed, a member of both the PGA Tour and the European Tour, is one of those players.

During his first round on Thursday, Reed provided a memorable moment.

Following a pulled drive on the par-5 second hole that hung up in some nasty fescue on a hill, Reed was faced with an incredibly difficult second shot. It was so difficult, he could only take about a 6-inch backswing.

Once he made contact with the ball, Reed lost his balance walking down the hill:


Remarkable shot, all things considered.

It wasn't quite as enjoyable as this intentional hill slide from Phil Mickelson in the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, but it was fun nonetheless:


July 6, 2016 - 2:35pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
9 things to carry in your golf bag
Seamus Golf
Is your golf bag bursting at the seams? Do you really need all that stuff that's in there for a 4-5 hour round of golf? Here's a list of the essentials you should be carrying. Leave the rest in the trunk.

Who out there is guilty of slinging an overloaded golf bag?

Come on. I can't be the only one raising my hand.

Just because many great golf bags today feature loads of pockets doesn't mean we have to fill them all up. Admittedly, I'm still trying to grasp that concept.

During a recent round at an exceptional golf course that required our foursome to take caddies (which I love on those rare, special occasions, by the way), I realized what a problem my "loading the golf bag" issue had become when my caddie demanded I switch my stand bag for a lightweight loaner bag from the bag room.

In fairness, our foursome had two caddies carrying two bags apiece. I can't blame my looper for not wanting my bag to be weighed down by a rainsuit and umbrella on a cloudless 85-degree day, an Orange Whip training tool, position sticks, bluetooth speakers and whatever else was in there.

RELATED: Things that drive us crazy on the course | Things that drive you crazy

So, we made the bag switch and tossed in just the bare essentials.

Once the round was finished, we went back to the bag room to move my belongings back from the loaner bag to my own back. As I hoofed it back to my car with that ridiculously heavy bag and jumped in for a four-hour drive home, I had a lot of time to think about what should always be in the bag and what shouldn't.

With that theme in mind, here are the nine things you should be carrying in your golf bag.

By the way, I'm sure I have golf minimalist friends out there who can eliminate even more... this is what I feel comfortable with:

9. Sunscreen. Do yourself a favor and do not mess with the sun's harmful rays. Always have a tube of sunscreen in the bag. And don't think that applying before your round and then throwing it in the trunk is enough. It's recommended that you reapply sunscreen when you're outdoors every two hours. For a round of golf, that means at least once at the beginning and once at the turn.

8. A rangefinder. For a long time, I believed I wasn't a good enough player to have a rangefinder. When I finally got one, I realized I wasn't a good enough player not to have one. I'm not like Johnny Miller hitting it within a half-yard of my target when I'm at my best. But my round moves quicker and I'm more likely to hit my shots -- even bad ones -- closer to the hole when I know precisely how far away I am.

7. A great towel. We're not talking about the beat up bath towel you dig out of the linen closet. This type is golf-specific -- one that retains water and has a pattern that allows you to dig in and get that dirt out of your iron grooves, keeping your clubs and golf balls clean over the course of a round.

6. A water bottle. Most courses have water scattered throughout at various tee boxes. Just to be safe, I always like to have a bottle of water handy. There's nothing worse than being parched on a hot summer's day as you make the climb up to an elevated green. It feels like you're in the Sahara instead of on the golf course. No thanks.

5. Two golf gloves. One might rip. You may sweat through one. You might get some rain on the course that soaks one. Have a dry second one for back up. It takes up virtually no room in your bag and is as light as a feather.

4. A palmful of golf tees. I'm not going to tell you to take only 2 or 3 tees, or even 5 or 10. I've played with guys who break tees virtually every time they use them. Personally, I prefer the plastic, unbreakable tees (they're not really unbreakable, but close enough for me). I like to carry just enough tees so that I don't have to ask a playing partner, "Hey, can I borrow a tee?"

3. Four coins or ball markers. Why four? One for you and one for each of the other three people in your group in case they don't have one. There's nothing worse than when your lining up that rare birdie putt only to have someone in the group use a tee to mark their ball that's halfway between your ball and the hole. So distracting.

2. Divot tool. I've seen people fix their ball marks with tees. Can we all agree that doesn't get the job done as effectively as a dedicated divot tool? I had an old golf coach who had a great rule that I try to follow to this day -- when you arrive at the green, use a divot tool to fix your ball mark and at least one other. It keeps the greens in good shape for everyone.

I recently got something called a "Switchblade" and I love it. It's basically a divot tool and ball marker in one. What's great about it is the fact that the divot tool portion closes up so it's not stabbing your leg while in your pocket. You just hit a small button when you're ready to use it.

1. 6-8 golf balls. This is mainly for your regular golf course, or a course you're familiar with. I realize you might need more on a more difficult course. I'm so guilty of carrying way more golf balls than I need. It's pretty much a mental block. I stress out over, "what if this isn't enough? What if I run out of balls at the turn and I spent $120 to play this course?"

If you really sit back and think about your recent rounds, you might be surprised when you realize how few golf balls you've actually lost.  

July 6, 2016 - 1:18pm
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.