If you’re like me, you probably spend every spare minute of your day thinking ‘how can I get better at golf?’
The pursuit of that first sub-100, sub-90, sub-80 or, for the elite few, sub-70 round is something we all strive for and dream about – however, to get there requires a lot of dedication, hard work and, above all else, practice.
But we all lead busy lives and it can be hard to find time to head to the range during the week, leading many of us to consider alternative ways to get your reps in hitting golf balls.
One such supplement for a driving range is a golf practice net, but the question is: do they actually help improve your game?
A high-quality golf practice net can certainly help improve the consistency of your ball striking and tempo, and allow you to work on specific drills to improve your swing. The downside is that you won’t see your ball flight, or the direction it travels, by hitting into a net, but you will get adequate feedback on whether or not you have made good connection with the ball.
Because when it boils down to it, one of the biggest differences between high handicap and low handicap golfers isn’t putting or chipping – in many cases, it is ball striking.
Spending even 30 minutes per day hitting balls into your golf practice net will help you build confidence in your swing and make better contact with the ball more regularly which, in turn, can lead to lower scores when you step out onto the golf course.
Nets are also great for developing a nice, smooth rhythm – especially if you’re someone who is guilty of trying to bash the cover off the golf ball.
Table of contents
Is hitting golf balls into a net good practice?
While golf practice nets can help improve your game when used correctly, they can also be detrimental to your progress if you use them incorrectly.
Here are some do’s and don’ts when hitting golf balls into a practice net.
What you SHOULD do when using a golf net
Practice with purpose
Before stepping up to your practice net, ask yourself a few questions: What am I trying to improve? What drills will I be working on in order to improve? And lastly, how will I know if I have improved or not?
If you can’t answer all of those questions, then step away from your practice net and start devising a plan.
Are you working on a grip change? Are you trying to get the club more ‘on-plane’ in the downswing?
Having a clear vision of what you’re trying to achieve is paramount to getting good results.
While I would absolutely recommend seeing a PGA teaching professional in order to assess your swing and give you guidance on how to improve it, if you’re looking to go it alone then there are heaps – and I mean HEAPS – of instructional videos on YouTube to assist you with the basics, such as correct grip, set-up, backswing and everything else you need to get started.
Video your swing
As mentioned earlier, one of the biggest downsides to hitting into a golf practice net is not being able to see your ball flight – which tells you whether you’ve hit it straight, sliced it, or hooked it.
One way to get around this is to video your golf swing.
Most people are too embarrassed to take a tripod to their local driving range and record their session for fear of getting weird looks from other golfers.
They don’t want to be see as ‘that guy’ or ‘that girl’ who videos their swing in public.
But thankfully, if you’ve decided to purchase a golf practice net, the chances are you’ll be using it in the comfort and privacy of your own backyard, garage or home.
And that means you should have no excuses for NOT recording your swing.
Doing so will give you great feedback and the starting line of your shot (whether it started left or right) and also the height of your shot (whether you thinned it or fatted it).
All you need is a tripod and a cradle for your phone, and you’re good to go.
The below video tells you exactly how to set-up your camera to video and analyse your swing correctly.
Use a high-quality net and hitting mat
When purchasing a golf practice net, you may think it’s a good idea to go for the cheapest option possible.
I would highly recommend AGAINST doing this.
While you don’t need to break the bank balance, buying a cheap net means it’s only a matter of time before it breaks and you’ll need to buy a new one.
Similarly, the bargain basement nets are often made from such poor-quality materials that you might find you blast your golf ball straight through the netting – which can be disastrous if you’re hitting indoors.
Spending a little bit extra to ensure you have a quality net to hit into is well worth the investment – after all, replacing smashed windows, or patching holes in walls, isn’t cheap.
I’d also recommend getting a good-quality golf hitting mat that most closely replicates fairway grass, as opposed to the cheap stuff (which are likely to wear out far quicker, or soon become shredded after only a few days of use).
HITTING MATS: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW
I’ve detailed everything you should know about hitting mats in another article, where I explain how to practice with them, whether they damage your clubs, and also list the best mats available online.
Make sure you align yourself correctly
There’s no point practicing your swing if you’re not lined up to your target in the right way.
To do this, simply lay a club parallel to your target line an inch in front of your feet – or, you could purchase an alignment stick which will also do the same job.
This will help you avoid hitting unnecessary hooks or slices caused by a too closed or too open set-up.
What you SHOULD NOT do when using a golf net
Hit balls aimlessly without a plan
If you go into a practice session without a set goal, you’ll probably just bash golf balls into your net for 30 minutes without getting any better.
It’s actually more likely that you’re engraining bad habits, which will only make your swing worse – and also make it harder to correct your flaws.
Remember, ask yourself: What am I trying to improve? And what drills will I be working on in order to improve?
Either practice with purpose, or don’t practice at all.
Swing in a tightly enclosed space
Ideally, you want to set your golf practice net up outside so you have ample room to swing the club freely.
After all, there’s nothing worse than feeling cramped when you’re trying to make good contact with the golf ball.
If you can’t find room outdoors and need to set yourself up inside your home or garage, make sure you have enough space that you can swing the club freely and without stress.
You also want to ensure there’s nothing close by that can be struck by your golf club.
Use foam golf balls if you can avoid it
If you’re someone who gets worried about breaking things by hitting real golf balls a little wayward, you may be tempted to purchase foam or soft plastic balls instead.
I did this after buying my first practice net, and while they are perfectly good to practice with, and have their advantages, they will never quite be as good as regular golf balls.
Because the balls are softer than a real golf ball, you won’t feel the difference between a good and bad strike as easily when you make contact.
Trust me, use real golf balls if you can: you’ll gain far better feedback on your good and bad strikes, allowing you to make the necessary corrections to improve your swing.
Of course, if you feel strongly about using practice golf balls, by all means they do a perfectly good job, as I outlined in another article.
They will fly similar to a normal golf ball, and still make a great sound when you strike them clean – albeit, with a softer feel off the club face.
A packet of Almost Golf balls (pictured above) costs just $39.99 for a pack of 24 on Amazon and are without doubt the best quality foam ball on the market, so you don’t have to spend a fortune to try them out if you so desire.
MORE GOLF TIPS:
- ARE FOAM GOLF BALLS GOOD FOR PRACTICE?
- ARE POLARIZED SUNGLASSES GOOD FOR GOLF?
- SHOULD YOU WEAR A GLOVE WHILE PUTTING?
How do I know if I’m striking the golf ball well?
Trust me, you’ll know. There is no sweeter feeling than a well-struck golf shot. You will know when you’ve flushed one.
But if you’re someone who prefers visual feedback as opposed to ‘feel’, there are things you can do to determine where the ball is making contact with your clubface.
One is to use Direct Impact Golf Tape, which can be purchased on Amazon for less than $25 and is a hugely useful tool.
All you need to do is apply the thin layer of tape to your clubface, and after you’ve hit the ball, it will leave a clear mark showing you whether you’ve struck it in the middle or not.
This will help hone your focus when practicing, and improve your consistency of strike over time.
If you can’t be bothered applying tape, you could instead use standard foot spray to provide instant feedback after each shot.
Basically, all you need to do is spray a small amount of this cost-effective material onto the face of your club before taking your swing.
Like the impact tape, it will leave a mark where the ball made contact with the club.
And don’t worry, it washes off easily. Simply wipe it away with your golf towel and it’s as if it was never there.
What is the best golf practice net to buy?
As I mentioned early, there are an endless number of golf practice nets you can purchase online – but the quality will vary greatly depending on how much you’re willing to spend.
To help you decide, I’ve provided some of the best options for nets to suit your budget.
Budget golf practice nets
Our top pick
SAPLIZE Golf Practice Net with Hitting Mat
Price: $79.99 (Amazon)
If you’re looking for a no-frills, basic hitting net that won’t break the bank, the SAPLIZE golf practice net will do the job just fine.
The hitting area is 10ft x 7ft wide, with the extended sides helping to trap any wayward shots.
The net is made of high-impact polyester fabric, which is protected by an Oxford cloth that sits in front of the netting and has strong anti-tear characteristics.
A target will help you hone your aim, and a hitting mat also comes with the purchase.
The six-month warranty also gives you peace of mind, knowing you can have the net replaced if it breaks during that timeframe.
Repairs/replacement parts are also available free of charge inside the first 12 months.
- Decent-sized hitting area
- Comes with a hitting mat, and target curtain
- Replaced free of charge within first six months
- Not as durable as other higher-priced nets
- Only comes in the colour green
FORB Portable Golf Hitting Net
Price: $99.99 (Amazon)
If you’re looking for a net that is a little more multi-purpose, the FORB Portable Golf Hitting Net is another great budget-friendly alternative.
Slightly more expensive than other bargain-basement options, the FORB is also different in that it doesn’t have extended sides to stop skewed shots shooting into nearby walls or objects.
With dimensions of 7ft x 7ft it has a slightly smaller hitting area, but this could be advantageous for those who are tight on space (whether it be indoors or outdoors).
This net comes highly rated by other golfers, and what I like about it is the two fibreglass supporting poles, and the easy-hanging mesh netting – the looser tension means it is more able to absorb the impact of the golf ball without tearing.
- Loose-hanging net is less susceptible to tears
- Easily portable (fast set-up/pack-up time)
- Doesn’t have extended sides/target cloth
- Is slightly smaller than other practice nets
Club Champ Golf Practice Net
Price: $28 (Amazon)
When it comes to budget golf practice nets, it’s unlikely you’ll find any more affordable that the Club Champ.
For less than $30 you’ll receive a 9ft x 7ft, weather-resistant nylon net that has plated steel poles keeping it upright.
It’s easy to set-up and take down, but at that price I do have some concern about its quality and durability.
But it is one of the highest-rating reviewed nets in that price bracket on Amazon, so it must be doing something right.
- Cost effective
- Decent sized net
- Fast set-up/pack-up time
- Doesn’t have extended sides/target cloth
- Questions about durability/quality
Premium golf practice nets
Our top pick
Rukket Haack Golf Net Pro
Price: $195.95 (Amazon)
When assessing price, quality, size and durability, there were no golf practice nets that topped the Rukket Haack Golf Net Pro.
Significantly cheaper than some of the other premium options out there, the Rukket Haack was developed and endorsed by University of George coach Chris Haack – so it’s a golf net designed by a golfer, for golfers.
That’s a big tick, if you ask me.
The Rukket Haack is 9ft x 7ft x 3ft providing a bigger hitting area than some of its rivals, while its unique design – with more curvature – gives it the ability to withstand the most powerful of swings, time and time again.
But what will give you most comfort in your purchase is the inclusion of a lifetime guarantee – including lifetime replacement parts – meaning you can buy with complete confidence knowing you can easily have it replaced should it be damaged.
It also comes with a floating hitting target and a carry bag for ease of transport.
Quite simply, I reckon this is the best value-for-money, premium option out there.
- Larger hitting area
- Designed by a golf coach
- Lifetime guarantee
- Slighter more expensive than budget options
Rukket 4pc Golf Bundle
Price: $199.99 (Amazon)
Another Rukket product, you ask? Don’t worry, we’re not sponsored by them – it just so happens Rukket appears to make really good golf practice nets.
While the quality of the net itself isn’t quite as good as the Rukket Haack, the value of this bundle cannot be beaten.
In addition to the net, your purchase includes a Chip It! Net (valued at $30) and a Mat Attack Tri-Turf Portable Hitting Mat ($59.99) for no extra cost – so, essentially $80 of extra value.
Sounds pretty good, if you ask me.
Standing at 10ft x 7ft x 5ft, this net has one of the largest hitting surfaces on the market, which is perfect if you’re someone who is still prone to spraying the odd shot here and there.
This net is easily set-up and packed up, and folds down into a small space for ease of transport.
You can’t go wrong with the Rukket 4Pc Golf Bundle.
- Super value bundle
- Huge hitting net area
- Durably and easily transportable
- Cost effective
- Not as sturdy as other premium options
FORB Freestanding Golf Cage
Price: $479.99 (Amazon)
When it comes to top of the line golf practice nets, there are fewer better on the market that the FORB Freestanding Golf Cage.
It comes equipped with super durable 7ft netting panels that are attached via bungee cords, which help absorb the golf ball’s impact – meaning you can use every club in the bag, including driver, without having to worry about piercing a hole in the mesh.
The netting is rot-proof, while the uprights are powder-coated to prevent corrosion so you can leave it set-up outdoors.
The big knock on some of the budget practice nets available online is their sturdiness and durability – but that is no issue with the FORB Freestanding Golf Cage, which will withstand thousands of shots over its lifetime.
- Extremely sturdy
- High-quality, durable netting
- Corrosion resistant uprights
- Slow set-up/pack-up time
- Pricier than other nets
- No mention of warranty