Previously it was just the weather and time which prevented enthusiastic golfers from practicing as much as they would like to, today it’s the repeated lockdowns. The United Kingdom has the largest number of golf courses in Europe. With over 1800 courses with the nearest country Germany, having only 700 courses. The most recent statistics showed that in 2020 there were over 1 million registered golfers in the UK, and this doesn’t account for those not attached to a club. Therefore, as you can probably imagine the UK wide lockdown and closure of all golf courses will have a significant impact on many golfers. Not only will this place a huge strain on the finances of countless golf clubs and complexes, but also have a significant impact on a golfer’s ability to keep their game sharp with weeks of no golf. How can keen golfers, looking to improve their game ensure that they get the required amount of practice when away from the golf course? Our answer is to set up a home golf practice facility.
There are so many options for the modern golfer in being able to practice at home, where do you start. I remember growing up simply being able to putt on the carpet at home, or chipping in the back garden. However today, if you have the time, money, and inclination you can spend thousands setting up a home golf studio with a projector and some even include an integrated putting mat floor.
Should I set up a Home Golf Practice Area?
I was keen to understand whether a home golf practice area was worth the time and energy to set up. I also needed to know where to start so I reached out to my local Golf Professional Richard Lally. Richard has been a PGA Teaching Professional for over 22 years.
Richard is currently Head Pro at the Aspley Guise & Woburn Sands County Championship Golf Club in Bedfordshire. I was lucky enough to be able to recently speak with Richard on the details of practicing at home. He offered advice on how he would guide golfers of all abilities to ensure they keep sharp during winter and lockdown, and also some top tips so that they were ready for when courses reopened.
Practice Makes Permanent…
Most golfers don’t practice enough. You can’t simply turn up to the course each week without putting in any practice in-between rounds and expect to see dramatic improvements on the course. However, this is what the majority of golfers do. According to Richard, ‘most golfers lack practice, and the awareness that the more you practice, the more you will improve, it’s as simple as that. Practice makes permanent, if you put the hours in off the course then you’ll see the benefits on the course.’ This will be the same during lockdown. Richard was speaking to me from his state-of-the-art golf studio at Aspley Guise, here he provides detailed analysis of golfers’ swings. Richards students have seen amazing improvements by being able to see themselves on video. The instant feedback you can get from video analysis is eye opening for golfers, explained Richard. If you can set up a camera to be able to record your swing at home this would definitely help your game.
Using this footage Richard has even provided remote video advice to his members and students. If they send him a short video, he’s able to review this and give them some pointers on their swing, along with opportunities to further improve. This is another great way to keep your game sharp during time away from the course.
In a recent national golf foundation report, it was estimated that in 2019 approximately 64% of regular golfers had reviewed some form of online golf instruction video. When discussing the increase in golfers turning to online tuition and YouTube videos to get golf advice Richard was in favour. ‘There’s so much great content available now, golfers have access to some of the top golf coaches in the world, you should definitely subscribe to some of these content producers online’. However, he made a great point, their local club pro might know their swing better, and be able to provide more tailored golf advice. So where possible golfers should reach out to their local club professional in the first instance and see if they offer online lessons.
Should golfers take a lesson?
Richard would encourage all golfers to take a lesson, this can have dramatic benefits to your game. Richard currently holds an extremely popular Women’s Academy from the golf studio and club’s practice facilities at Aspley Guise. This includes group sessions, and 1-2-1 tuition. During this academy he has seen a variety of students come through the doors. There are golfers who have zero experience, and are new to the game when they join his academy, with expert tuition, they dramatically improve their game. This goes to show the benefit of golf tuition. If you’re local to Milton Keynes and Bedfordshire I would recommend looking for Richard and seeing how he can transform your golf, visitors are always welcome.
Does practicing at home lead to bad form on the course?
Anything you can do when you’re away from the course will help your game, so no it won’t necessarily lead to bad form. In Richards opinion, every golfer should have a net or a practice area at home. If golfers are genuinely serious about improving, they need to put the effort in. However, golfers don’t need to spend thousands in setting up home golf practice areas, it can be the remarkably simple things at home that can improve your golf. Richard even suggests basic exercises such as putting on the carpet at home and aiming for a penny on the floor, or in the back garden, chipping with a wedge towards a bucket.
What is the best home golf practice equipment?
So, now that we know home golf practice can really help your
game let’s give you some tips for the five essentials you’ll need for a home
practice area which will supercharge your lockdown game.
1. A good quality home putting mat is essential if you’re looking to improve during lockdown. We would advise buying one which can easily be folded or rolled up for easy storage. Be sure to choose one which is made of heavier material and has a non-slip base, this means it won’t move around on the floor when you’re putting.
2. Invest in a lightweight golf net which you can use in the garden. We would recommend choosing one which can be folded away easily, some come with carry bags. We would also advise buying one which is at least 2 metres wide, this way should you hit any stray shots left or right they should still be caught by the net.
3. To compliment your golf net we would recommend a golf mat from which you can hit your golf shots. This is essential as not only will it protect your lawn from unsightly divots, it will also ensure you have a consistent lie for your ball each time you strike. Choose a mat which has a heavy rubber base and is able to grip or be pinned onto the floor.
4. A chipping net is a must for building your home golf practice area if you want to keep your short game in top condition when away from the course. Choose a model which is able to stand on its own and wide enough to catch off target shots. Some can be folded away and even come with sponge practice golf balls included. These are perfect should bad weather mean you have to move your chipping into the living room.
5. This one although essential to improving your game during lockdown it might only be suitable for the deeply committed. We recommend investing in a good golf swing monitor, like the Flightscope Launch Monitor or a Trackman. Although not cheap, these will give you an excellent understanding of what your ball is actually doing rather than just hitting into a net for hours.
Anything you can do to keep yourself sharp in the winter, or during lockdown will be a benefit to your golf. If you put the effort into your golf during these winter months, you’ll reap the rewards in the spring. However, if you simply want to sit at home and binge watch Netflix don’t be surprised when your game doesn’t improve to the standard you expect this year.
Also let’s not forget how your equipment can also dramatically improve your golf, so if you’re looking for the best advice on golf equipment be sure to check out www.fungolf.co.uk and read my guides for what you should know before making that important purchase.