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How to Practice Golf at Home: Your Ultimate Guide

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The desire to practice golf at home has significantly risen in recent years for some obvious reasons. Homebound golf enthusiasts have been exploring various innovative ways to continue honing their skills from the comfort of their living rooms, backyards, or garages. Advances in technology have made some training and analysis methods more accessible to the recreational player. Furthermore, those who experience winter and want to keep improving also need an outlet!

Before we begin, this post assumes that not everyone has the means or space to build their in-home simulator setup or backyard putting green. Those of you who do are ahead of the game! I put in a backyard green (artificial turf with a bunker) a few years ago and honestly, I wasn’t thrilled with the setup (more of a placement issue). Sounds like a topic for a different article some other time! There is a Facebook Group, “Backyard Golf Greens” – if you have any interest or thoughts of setting up or building one, it is a must join. I get very jealous looking at the posts, despite my prior experience.

Finally, this article has a companion, Creating the Ultimate Golf Practice Area at Home. It goes more in-depth on space requirements, budgetary considerations, what you’ll need, and where to find it.

Our Approach

Understand that practicing golf at home, like at the range or course, is not just about repeatedly hitting balls; it requires a well-thought-out plan that addresses all game phases, not just the full swing. This guide will provide insights, links to resources, and tips on how to work on your game when you can’t get to the course or practice tee, or even provide some new alternatives to how you already approach practice. See our “Home Practice” series for a great deal of information on the subject.

So, whether you’re wondering, “How can I practice golf at home on a budget?” or looking for the “best home golf practice setup,” keep reading to find the answers and much more. To dive deeper into some topics, we will link to some of our favorite books that offer knowledge and techniques to help you reach your goals. In addition to working on your game’s physical parts, you might want to work on decluttering your mind from swing thoughts on the course and reserve them for practice sessions.

The Practice Manual

One book that might be of interest – is “The Practice Manual” by Adam Young. This book has been featured on the Golf Channel and is a best-seller in the USA, UK, Canada, Germany, and France. It provides the most comprehensive guide to improving your golf game ever. Despite golfers all over the world hitting the driving ranges and not improving, this book offers a different and better approach. It uses the latest motor learning research to help you discover the key ingredients that make up the ultimate practice plan. With this knowledge, you can quickly change for the better and find out where you’ve been going wrong all these years. The book covers topics such as ball flight laws, developing skills, consistency, differential and variable practice, performance training, and more.

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Foundations of Effective Practice

Embarking on your golf practice journey isn’t just about hitting balls into a net, chipping balls at a target, or putting into a cup. You need to realistically assess your goals and the state of your game – strengths/weaknesses, and divide up your practice time accordingly. As it is, the average player who doesn’t work on their game at home will go the range, beat a few buckets, maybe stop by the putting green for a few minutes, and then get back to the demands of life. And we wonder why we don’t see improvement at the rate we expect or why our games do not translate from practice to play.

As with any learning endeavor, setting goals and monitoring progress is best. Understanding what to practice is pivotal.

  • Putting: This should really be the most accessible skill, but we struggle just as much from a short distance as we do long.
  • Short Game: The “scoring game” is where the average player can make up the most ground.
  • Long Game: We all practice this the most, but what’s the plan? Everyone on Twitter hits 280 down the middle, so it must be that easy!
  • Mental Game: Everything between the ears. We’ll suggest resources and methods to raise your Golf IQ. Check out some of our existing articles on course management and the mental game.

The Path to Improvement

Incremental improvement demands a conscious effort to understand where your time is best spent. Look at this breakdown of strokes in an average round. This is not 100% real-time data, but it’s close enough for our purposes. I will assume that the percentage of shots in this distribution does not correlate to where you spend your practice time. Me either, until recently.

shot distribution between pro golfers, high handicappers, low handicappers, amateurs, mid hanidcaps, golf practice

Putting at Home

Just as it’s counterproductive to beat balls on the range – the same is true when practicing putting. Grooving bad mechanics and a bad stroke will not help you improve. While you can’t simulate a 50-foot breaking putt at home, you can work on your mechanics.

Practice Putting Mats

If you’re wondering, “How can I practice golf at home on a budget?” start with carpet putting. It’s simple, cost-effective, and a great way to begin your putting practice. We’ve all done it – get an actual cup or a practice putting cup or PuttOut and work on your stroke. But if you have some money allocated – there are various high-quality options depending on the size of your space and budget. Options range from the almost ridiculous SYNLawn GreenMaker to the simplicity of the PuttOut.

  • Big Moss Putting Greens – my go-to putting green. I have owned 3 of these over the years and still use one today. The Augusta is the best value model for my money. It comes with some padding called the “snake break,” enabling you to practice tricky left-to-right or right-to-lefters. Long enough to also use for chipping practice.
  • SYNLawn GreenMaker – I have no real experience with this one other than to say it is a ‘Premium” model at the extreme high end on this list.
  • Perfect Practice Putting Mat is a great addition to anyone’s practice setup. Easy to set up and store – automatic ball return, distances are pre-measured, and you can see your putter path and measure how far back you take it on each distance. I recently watched an instructional video where the teacher talked about how Bryson DeChambeau measures his putting stroke with a yardstick for each distance. I thought – hey, I don’t need a yardstick – that’s built into my mat!
big moss augusta putting green
perfect practice mat
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Training Aids & Resources

Putting Aids come in various shapes and sizes – meant to ingrain different feelings and help with different components of the stroke.

  • PuttOut – a ramp you put to, either from the carpet or mat. Each ‘made’ putt is returned to you the same distance it would have gone past the hole had it missed; anything else is a miss. Only perfect putts will hold in the target. Warning – it is addicting and frustrating.
  • Eyeline Golf Groove Putting Mirror – First and foremost, to get a sense of where your eyes are set up at the address. You can also see if you move your head during the stroke. You can insert tees or implements to set up a putting gate to train the proper path and/or ensure the ball starts on the right line.
  • TourAim – Besides being a top-of-the-line alignment tool, the Tour Aim has a hole built into it that serves as a putting gate. You can set up a putting station to work on your alignment and stroke simultaneously.
  • Dave Pelz Putting Balls – these balls have two circles in the center that help you align the ball on your correct line, especially if you use a tool like the Perfect Putting Mat. I love to use these and watch them roll straight, keeping the circles online.

Drills & Games

So we have a mat, we have training aids. What can we work on that’s not just repetitively scraping balls and putting them at the same target? One thing you do is watch the videos and get drill ideas from the products themselves. Another idea is to get Dave Pelz’s Putting Bible, which contains a wealth of knowledge and drill recommendations.

Join a putting group or get Virtual Instruction. I just joined a group with an instructor from Scotland. It’s early days, but I have already learned some good drills, adjusted my distance from the ball, and slowed down my routine. You’ll need to be able to take video face-on and down the line. See our post “Swing Theory” for some suggestions on recording.

Application

I’ll share my new favorite drill – this I learned from my instructor. I do this drill on the Perfect Putting Mat because it’s easier with the distance markers on the mat. You can use anything but will need to measure if your surface doesn’t have the premarked measurement.

  • So we’re going to start at 10ft and hit a putt from each distance, going down to 1ft and then back to 10 where we started.
  • The rules are that you need to do a full routine and setup on each putt – not just scraping the ball over. Grab the ball, align it the way you like, setup and go.
  • My instruction has been that if I’m not looking at the hole for 2 seconds before I start the stroke, then something is wrong.
  • Count how many you make, keep track over time, and make it a game.

Short Game Practice

Chipping and pitching stand as the pillars of a robust “scoring game.” Here’s how you can work on them at home:

  • Chipping: Start with basic drills like hitting into a net, focusing on clean contact and consistent shots. Remember to experiment with different clubs to understand their impact on ball trajectory. A practice net in your backyard, garage, or basement can be great for hitting chips and pitches into. See our guide to the best practice nets for some ideas.
  • Pitching: Set up targets at varying distances and work on hitting them with a lofted club. The goal here is to develop a keen sense of distance and control.
  • As discussed in the last section, practice putting mats can serve double duty, set them up and practice chips and pitches.

Training Aids & Resources

  • The Tour Aim has a place here and has adjustable settings specifically for short-game practice.
  • Dave Pelz Short Game Bible is still in print – available in Kindle, Hardcover, and even Audiobook (more on that later). This book has so much great stuff that I don’t think a few sentences could do it justice. Technique, Stats, Drills, you name it.
  • A high-quality golf mat will be required; we recommend the Real Feel Mat.
  • Tour Striker Smart Ball is a great tool to use when practicing chipping or pitching.
  • A great addition would be a chipping/pitching net like the Divot Short Game Practice Net, which has four adjustable targets, enabling you to practice flop, lob, pitch, chip, and punch shots. Maybe not flop shots in your backyard. My old neighbors didn’t like that and used to stand and watch me as if I was going to shank it into their yard. I swear that I did not!

Practicing the Long Game on Home Turf

As we stated in “Swing Theory” on the benefits of Video Analysis and “Driving Innovation” about advancements in Golf Technology, once you start recording your swing – many doors open. At the heart of any good setup is your camera, and for our purposes, let’s assume we all have a smartphone with a high-quality camera. Make sure you record at min 120fps. Golfpod is our recommendation for a Tripod that will help you record from the perfect face-on or down-the-line perspective every time. They just added a Magsafe connection in their new model, making it even easier to connect your phone.

What to Work On

Regarding what to practice, that’s really up to the individual. You may have an instructor who maps out your practice plans or is following a course or Virtual Training. We recommend Top Speed Golf – I am in my second year with this program and very satisfied. Easy-to-follow courses, lesson plans, and daily office hours make this attractive and something I would not have previously considered. There are many other solid options as well.

If you are looking to add distance / increase clubhead speed, check out our series “Chasing Distance” for more on The Stack System and other speed training options that can be done from home. You’ll need a launch monitor to measure swing speed.

Don’t forget to work on your swing tempo; see our post, “Revolutionize Your Game: Innovative Solutions that Unleash the Perfect Golf Swing Tempo.” It highlights the importance of tempo and discusses the Tour Tempo books and app you can use anywhere you practice.

Home Essentials

Golf Mat

A high-quality golf mat is a cornerstone in setting up your practice area. In our post on the Best Golf Mats of 2023, we review some very high quality options from The Net Return, Real Feel, and Firebuilt. The Play Better store is another great source for all things home practice.

Golf Net

A sturdy golf net is a must-have, allowing you to practice your shots without worrying about breaking anything. Dive into our curated list of the best golf-hitting nets in 2023 to find the one that suits your needs and budget. Our recommendation is The Net Return, which is the best available option from my perspective. I just added on the side rails for extra safety.

For more on Golf Nets and the benefits of home practice, see our post “Beyond the Basics: How a Golf Net Takes Your Practice to the Next Level.”

Launch Monitor

Incorporate a launch monitor in your setup to get precise feedback on your shots. Explore our 2023 guide to the best golf launch monitors to choose the one that meets your preferences. Simple options such as the PRGR Black and mid-level but great value in the Flightscope Mevo; to a Skytrak, a Launch Monitor will be an invaluable tool. Remember to use quality balls to get your measurements, especially if you plan on doing a comparative analysis. I have had great success with the Rapsoso MLM2Pro, which also records your swing and has the cool “Impact Vision” feature.

Alignment Sticks

Incorporate alignment sticks in your practice setup to work on alignment, the most underappreciated aspect of the golf swing. Learn more about the critical role of alignment in golf swing from our detailed guide. For the third and final time in this post, we’ll mention the Tour Aim and the value it can bring to your practice – not just your alignment, but your swing plane. Goodstick Golf also produces a great magnetic alignment stick product that can help with alignment and swing plane.

Impact Tape

Impact Tape is a great tool at home or the range, as is putting Duct Tape on the clubface – I like to use Red because it stands out and is easier to see the ball mark. This old-school technique can be a game-changer for golf practice because it provides instant feedback on where your clubface hits the ball, helping you zero in on the sweet spot for optimal performance. It’s an affordable and easy-to-use diagnostic tool and can also guide you in adjusting your alignment and grip. My instructor used to point to the sweet spot on the club and say, “If you want to add distance, don’t swing harder – hit it here, then worry about the rest!” For more on this, see our post “Impact Tape: Enhancing Your Swing Through Visual Feedback.”

Training Aids

The market is saturated with training aids that promise to take your swing to another level. Maybe some of them will – but they haven’t for me! We have two articles on our favorite training aids – one on Swing Training Clubs, and another that covers all Swing Training Aids.

Indoor Swinging

If you have dedicated space in your garage or basement and can install a net/setup a practice space – that’s great. My space is outdoors, so what can I do during the winter (ugh) or on bad weather days? I have a few go-to clubs that I use in the house. I cannot say I haven’t broken anything in the past, so be careful and find a space with enough room! YMMV.

  • Momentus Heavy Club Iron: designed with a specially weighted head that helps build muscle memory, promoting a smoother and more consistent swing.
  • Most Important Stretch in Golf (MISIG): this club can increase flexibility and range of motion. It also helps warm up muscles before a session or round, making swings more fluid and reducing the risk of injury.

Seating & Storage

Eventually, you’ll need to take a break, so ensure some seating is nearby. You’ll need a place to store all of this gear so that it’s out of the way yet accessible when you need it. For outside, I bought this deck box and stored all practice gear and training aids. It’s been a great addition to the yard that doubles as seating!

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Auditory Learning

Our article “Enhance Your Productivity, Elevate Your Game with Audiobooks & Accessories” described how not all learning occurs with a club in hand. In the modern, fast-paced world, utilizing every moment constructively is essential, and here, auditory learning platforms like Audible and Speechify can facilitate another level of learning.

An excerpt from that post:

To fully leverage the power of audiobooks and enhance your productivity, consider the following products:

  • Audible: Amazon’s audiobook platform offers a massive library of golf-related titles, ensuring a steady stream of learning material.
  • Speechify App: Available on iOS and Android, this app is a must-have for golfers seeking to convert written content into audio format seamlessly and efficiently.
  • Quality Headphones or AirBuds: A comfortable pair of noise-canceling headphonesAirpods, or AirBuds ensures an immersive learning experience during commutes and travels. If your car lacks Bluetooth or USB audio, you can pick up an FM transmitter that connects quickly and provides hands-free audio.

Multitasking

Make the most of your daily commute by turning it into a learning opportunity. Whether driving to work or taking the train, you can listen to golf-themed audiobooks or podcasts to make your travel time more productive. Don’t limit your learning to just your commute, though. Listen while doing household chores, making mundane tasks more interesting and educational. Even running errands, you can continue learning by equipping yourself with headphones and reading an article or audiobook. So, take advantage of every moment to absorb all the game’s nuances while ticking off your to-do list.

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