If you saw the photos of my new backyard in the June issue of Golf Magazine or in the May 26 edition of the Wall Street Journal, you know how crazy I am about the game and helping golfers play better (my condition obviously isn’t getting better with age). Basically, I’ve built the short-game practice facility of my dreams in my backyard (my wife and I discussed it for so long that I actually did dream about it). There’s a good explanation for my backyard obsession: Improving your short game and overall scoring is easier if you can work in the comfort and convenience of your own yard.
Like most golfers, you’re lucky to find the time to practice or play once a week, usually on a Saturday or a Sunday. Believe it or not, I’m in the same boat, which is why I designed the yard behind our new home in Texas to allow me to hit almost every conceivable putt and short-game shot under realistic golf conditions. Thanks to the quality of the synthetic turf I used to construct my backyard dream, my wedge shots stop like they do on real greens and my putts roll true.
With my dream house complete, I intend to make my short game the best it has ever been. My real goal, however, is to inspire you to find a way to practice your wedge game and putting at your own home on weekday evenings and without having to dress up or drive to the course or range (and to do this with your wife, kids or friends to make it just that much more enjoyable). Transforming your backyard into a legitimate practice area really isn’t as difficult—or expensive—as you might think. To help get you started, my son, Eddie, and I have come up with some basic blueprints. You can view these designs and a few others in more detail right here. These “easy-access” practice areas require little maintenance (no watering or mowing) and fit common yard dimensions. You won’t need the amount of synthetic turf I used. In fact, you can build a solid pitching area with only a 4’ x 4’ tee area and a 15’ x 25’ green.
Check the designs and you’ll see that having your own backyard short-game facility is a realistic option. It doesn’t matter if your yard is large or small—it’ll be the best improvement you make to your home and your game. I get goose pimples just thinking about it. In fact, I’m going to step outside right now and practice my lob shot!