With the price of an 18-hole game of golf costing around $81 in the United States, it can be expensive to go out to a course to get practice and improve your game. Instead, you can bring the golf course to you by transforming your yard into an at-home putting green. This may seem extremely difficult to prepare and maintain, but you can easily get an at-home putting green in your own backyard.
The easiest way to turn a lawn into a putting green is to have an artificial turf green installed. However, through digging, installing irrigation, sand, and then growing proper grass, a USGA regulation putting green can be achieved at home. There are several simple, cheap options available as well.
So, whether you are just trying to figure out if you want to commit to a professional level putting green, or already know and are ready to put in the work, I will help explain how to get a putting green in your backyard. I will also talk about another option available that requires less care than its grass counterparts, which is to have an artificial green installed.
Simple Real Grass Putting Green
To have an official USGA, the height of the grass can be no more than .0125 inches, which is shorter than two quarters stacked on top of each other.
This is impossible to do with your standard lawnmower, so, if you want to have a cheap, at-home option before committing to trying to build a USGA-like green, start with cutting your green every other day at the lowest height offered by your mower.
If you feel comfortable after a few weeks with the standard lawnmower, you can consider getting a rotary or a cylinder lawnmower, as they both cut much lower than your standard lawnmowers.
The cylinder lawnmower can get the grass to the height that the USGA requires for an official putting green, so if you are wanting to eventually create your own official putting green, you should invest in a special lawnmower.
You can find good deals on Rotary and Cylinder Lawn Mowers Here on Amazon.
The only other step that you will likely have to take in creating a simple real grass putting green is to make sure that your green is level. To do this, you will want to get some playing sand, which can be found very easily at any home improvement store.
- Simply spread the sand out evenly across the area you are using for your green and rake it flat.
- It will help to make your green more level.
- Repeat this process until you find your green to be level.
You may ruin your yard trying to keep the grass cut so short and many residential putting greens use artificial turf. I list steps below to make a real USGA grass putting green and talk about artificial turf after that, but honestly I just recommend getting a small artificial set up in your yard.
How To Make a USGA Real Grass Putting Green
If you want a legitimate USGA putting green at home, you will have to put in a little bit more work than simply having short grass and a flat surface. Let’s get into it!
Choose the Area for the Green
Before you do anything else, select an area to use as your putting green. Avoid hills or steep slopes, as it will make the installation process and putting very difficult. The flatter the better.
Once you have your area picked out, you will want to dig out the area. It is recommended that you dig about 10 to 12 inches deep. After digging, add in any contours that you will want your green to have. Unless you are building the nicest mini-golf course, the USGA recommends a slope of no more than 2.5%.
In order to prevent a soggy green, you will want to have good drainage installed. Four-inch perforated drainage pipe is the most common drainage used and typically it is done in a herringbone pattern across your green. When installing, dig trenches to place the pipes in, then cover with pea gravel.
After this, you will want to cover the whole area in sand. Your best option will be golf course sand, as it drains better than any other sand and most home improvement stores should have it.
Seed or sod it
Placing sod or growing seed is your next option. Using sod will be easier, however, it is considered that growing the seed is the better option in the long run. There are a wide variety of different USGA regulation grass types that are used in different regions, so ask a lawn care expert about which type of grass would be best for where you are located.
Make sure that you fertilize and water the grass regularly while it is growing, and once it has started growing, make sure you keep it at the regulation 0.125 inches by cutting it at least every other day.
Then, to finally finish up, get a hole puncher (link to Amazon) and a cup. After about 2 months you should be able to start practicing, but it will most likely take 4 to 5 weeks to fully finish and have a professional look. (source)
Check out the video below to watch how to build a USGA green:
Artificial Putting Green
For those who are willing to invest more in the short term and get a high-quality putting green that requires much lower maintenance, an artificial putting green is likely the best option for you.
At this point, artificial greens have become high enough quality to where they are like the same thing as a real grass USGA putting green—the biggest difference is that you have much less work to maintain them. (source)
When it comes to the total cost of the artificial green that you want, size is going to be the most important factor.
Typically a green under 400 sq. ft costs $40 per square foot, 400-2,000 sq. ft costs $20 to $30 per square foot, and then 2,000+ will usually cost around $15 per square foot.
Several other factors affecting the cost will be the design of green you want, site access, and any features that you might want to be added to it. There is also DIY artificial grass putting kits, however, these aren’t nearly as professional.
If this sounds like the best option for you, get an artificial putting green installed and get to practicing right away!