Growing up in a rural town gave me the gift of space, which is a paradise for aspiring golfers.
My parents had an acre of property, which allowed me to explore and concoct golf challenges. Using my childhood experience, I have outlined 11 fun ways to practice your golf game in the backyard.
From simple chipping tips to hand-eye coordination and swing mechanics, you can work on every element of your game in backyard golf.
This is the easiest backyard practice drill to undertake. You do not need loads of space, although it doesn’t harm. Set the net up in a central part of the yard and chip to it from different positions.
Playing from a different spot changes the scenery and the approach to your shot. It may impact the trajectory, alignment, and spin rate required to hole your shot. It also means you create your own 6 or 9 hole par 2 course. See what you card, and challenge yourself to beat the score next time out.
The goal is simple, get the ball into the net. The golf net I used when I was a kid looked like a basketball hoop with an enlarged circumference. It was nothing special but still provided a target to aim at.
Callaway has refined the design of the original to increase the challenge of the net. Their Chip-Shot Golf Chipping Net contains 3 square slots for you to aim at. See how accurate your aim and distance control is, and try to get the ball into the hole on the full.
Alternatively, you can practice your pitch shots and attempt to bounce the ball into the net. Whether you have an acre of space or a few square feet, you can work on these basic chip shots.
Those not gifted with a large backyard should consider foam golf balls. These reduce the risk of window breakages and scuffs on your ball. Should your backyard comprise concrete, you will need a hitting mat.
When the ball went into my pool, it resulted in a 10-minute intermission, as I needed to turn off the filter and backwash the pool to get the ball out of the pipe system. That is why I used it as an obstacle, to hit over or avoid completely.
Fortunately, floating golf balls allow you to bring the pool into play. In 2020, GM Golf built a floating putting green for $167 (see video below). It is an ideal option if your garden space is limited. They made a square frame from PVC pipes and connected them using PVC elbows.
Then, they employed ratchet traps to increase the stability of the pipes for optimal flotation. Next, the team added artificial turf and secured it to the pipes, with ratchet traps. Finally, they cut a hole in the turf to act as the cup, and they were good to go.
This drill boosts your accuracy and distance control. If you leave it short or generate excess power, your ball ends in the drink. In addition, it helps you achieve a consistent rhythm to improve your ball striking, launch angle, and spin.
Flop Shot Practice
Space is needed for this drill to avoid damaging your property or the neighbors, as I did. Since my garden was littered with fruit trees, I employed them as obstacles to practice the flop shot, one of my favorites in my repertoire.
I became fascinated with the shot when I was 4-years old. A family friend who is relatively unpopular on the PGA Tour taught it to me. I watched him send the ball to the heavens with ease and land it a few feet ahead of him.
If I could recommend one player to learn the flop shot from, it is undoubtedly Phil Mickelson. That man is a wizard with the flop.
The aim of the drill was to get the ball into the air rapidly and land it just on the other side of the tree. I also practiced this shot over my pool, pretending that the pin was a few feet from the water and I had no green to work with.
Higher handicappers and average ball-strikers may prefer a foam ball for this exercise because it can lead to wayward results. I broke several windows and roof tiles working on this drill, so approach with caution.
Golf Hitting Net
Owning a golf-hitting net (pays) affords you the chance to work on your long and mid-game from home. Set the practice net up 7 to 8-feet from your intended strike zone. I suggest acquiring a hitting mat to keep the grass intact
In addition, you should leave a foot or 2 of space behind the net to absorb the impact of your strikes. The best golf net for practice is the WhiteFang, which comes with a hitting mat incidentally.
I recommend looking at launch monitors to complete your practice. Otherwise, you hit golf balls aimlessly without knowing your shot shape or carry distance.
This technology offers detailed insight into your game to ensure that you address the issues with your swing. Therefore, you practice with a purpose and don’t just hit golf balls. An accurate launch monitor that doesn’t break the bank is the FlightScope Mevo.
Regularly improving your swing mechanics boosts your muscle memory and increases the consistency of your shots. As a result, you should hit fewer hook and slice shots, enjoying increased accuracy.
The quickest way to lower your handicap is to master your putting. You don’t need to head to the driving to sharpen your flat stick skills, only a putting mat.
Obviously, it is difficult to replicate the break on an actual green. However, it allows you to work on your distance control and putting-stroke path.
Furthermore, a putting mat allows you to practice both outside and inside, in case it ever starts raining and you want to practice inside. The PUTT-A-BOUT Par Three Golf Putting Green
is easy to set up, and built in sand trap cutouts catches any missed shots.
If your kid has a sandpit, it’s time for the little one to move out. Turn it into a bunker. The house I grew up in had 3 sand pits in different corners of the property, which meant I had multiple bunkers to practice from.
You don’t need a massive construction. A few feet all around is sufficient. Position your chipping net and try to get the ball into the hole.
Having a sand trap in the backyard helps you hone your bunker play to boost your up and downs and save multiple shots. I spent hours every week hitting balls out of my self-constructed bunkers.
Those who have the gift of a beach nearby can have endless fun with bunker shots. Here is an example of a casual me practicing fried egg lies with the Atlantic Ocean at my back.
Golf Swing Tempo
You don’t need a ball or acres of space for this drill. Pull out your Orange Whip swing training aid, take it back, and swing through. Do 10-repetitions of this, then take a 30 to 45-second break and repeat the process.
This drill improves your tempo, swing plane, path, and weight transition. Plus, the added mass in the swing stick requires you to activate all the muscles in your body to maximize your power on the downswing.
Therefore, using the stick enhances every aspect of your mechanics to encourage a square clubface at impact for maximum distance and accuracy.
Nothing stops you from using your golf hitting net set up to craft a simulator. However, I suggest doing so inside, given the electronic components required to run the system.
A golf simulator allows you to play virtual rounds of golf against your buddies and other users worldwide. It also allows you to work on most aspects of your game besides putting, and provides detailed insight into your shots.
Swing speed, spin rate, club face angle, ball speed, apex, and distance are typically measured by the launch monitor in a golf simulator.
These products are not the cheapest golf equipment, but their prices have been reduced. For example, you can pick up an OptiShot 2 Golf In A Box simulator for $850. It includes everything you need, except a laptop and projector.
In essence, simulators provide a platform to practice, play virtually and entertain your friends and family.
Golfers on a budget may find my review on the 10 best golf simulators under $1000 helpful. These options enhance your home practice experience without burning a hole in your pocket.
Bouncing The Golf Ball
You may look at this as a mundane drill that achieves nothing other than breaking a personal record. However, bouncing a golf ball on the club works wonders for your hand-eye coordination and ball striking.
Whenever I was bored as a kid, the simplest activity was to see how many times I could bounce the golf ball off the club’s face without it dropping on the ground. This worked wonders for me before a round, as I would use it to warm up and get my eye in before venturing to the 1st tee.
If there was nobody else in harm’s way, I would attempt to pull off the Tiger shot, where he hits the ball into the air and takes a backswing. Like a soccer player catching the ball on the volley, the Big Cat catches the ball cleanly on the descent and sends it flying.
I found the Nike Commercial, which is of poor quality given its age. But, it is well worth seeing the talent and skill of Eldrick.
I do not suggest completing the Woods follow-through for this trick. That is asking for trouble. You could hook, slice, or catch the ball thin, sending it uncontrollably towards a fragile object.
Now that I live in an apartment in the bustling city of Buenos Aires, I don’t have the luxury of backyard golf training facilities. I miss training in private and having the freedom to work on your game.
One area I went crazy with in my backyard was recovery shots. If I practiced them at the range, I would look outrageous. One shot I worked on was what I term the Lefty, since I am right-handed. Left-handed golfers would call this the Righty.
You set up for a left-handed shot. In other words, your right foot is now your lead. Take the clubface and turn it so that the toe points directly at the ground. Then take a quarter swing and try to connect the ball. Naturally, you will experience numerous freshies. However, the more you practice, the easier it becomes to strike the ball cleanly.
I practice this shot to help me escape scenarios where my ball is up against a tree, wall, or fence, and I cannot execute my standard swing. If you can pull off this shot, it will get you back into play, especially if your long game is erratic like mine.
Clean Strike (chip ball off the gravel)
I have Tiger Woods to thank for this as well. In the 2003 President’s Cup at Fancourt, he played an approach shot off the cart path, and struck so cleanly to give himself a chance to get up and down for the par.
Seeing how pure he struck the ball inspired me to hone my skills. So, I purposefully began chipping off the concrete at home. I am sure my coaches and other golf pundits would be mortified, but there was a method to my madness.
I never swung full and hard. I took an easy wind up and focused on catching the ball without touching the concrete. Obviously, I miscalculated a few times. However, I became solid at catching the ball cleanly, which improved my general iron play.
I do not recommend attempting this if your ball striking abilities are lackluster because you will damage your golf clubs. But, I feel it can boost the ball striking capabilities of mid handicappers.