There’s no doubt that if you’re reading this then you have a keen interest for golf and are on a journey to try and improve.
Anyone scouring the internet for tips and advice on how to practice and improve their game is obviously at a point where they are not yet content, continuing the search for the ‘secret sauce’ or the ‘drill to conquer all drills’ that will hopefully take their game to the next level.
In all honesty, whether one is truly ever content with their golf game is a matter for debate.
I heard a golf pro once say someone at his club claimed to not really mind whether they don’t get better at golf as they ‘enjoyed the walk and fresh air’ regardless of their score. The golf pro’s response: ‘then get a dog?’
Golf is a game where you’re either trying to get better, lying to yourself about being happy with your game as it is, or want to improve but can’t be bothered or aren’t willing to overcome the barriers stopping you from getting better.
For me, time and effort required to practice is, without doubt, the biggest thing that gets in the way of me working on my swing.
Luckily, there are some simple solutions to this problem, with a range of ways you can practice, from cheap to expensive, being quite easy to implement in the comfort of your own home.
You can practice golf at home by performing easy drills or purchasing some practice equipment to hone your swing. With nothing more than a club or an alignment stick, you can work on posture and rotation, weight transfer and set up. By purchasing a putting mat, chipping net or even a launch monitor and hitting net, you’ll have plenty of practice options at your disposal in your garage or backyard.
Now I know that the price points are varied here – starting at essentially zero and moving up to thousands of dollars – but there are many factors at play that should be broken down and considered.
A $20 bucket of range balls each week is over $1000 a year, not to mention fuel costs to drive there.
So while a $2000 Flight Scope Launch Monitor might seem like overkill, you could actually end up financially ahead in as little as two years!
If nothing else, a putting mat or cheap chipping set up in your backyard is a must for anyone likely to snub the range on a cold winter night, but who still desperately wants to progress their game.
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Can I really practice golf at home?
Yes! You can definitely practice at home by performing a range of simple drills, chipping in the backyard or using an indoor putting mat. If you really want to step up your home practice set up, consider investing in a good quality golf net where you can work on your full swing in a fairly compact area.
If the area of your game that needs the most work, much like me, is putting, then purchasing a simple mat or some training aids is an absolute no brainer.
We have written more comprehensive articles about both putting mats and training aids, but if you want a simple yet effective set up to get started, I’d recommend the PuttOut Pro Golf Putting Mat (pictured below) and the Perfect Pressure Putt Trainer.
I personally own this mat in the 8-foot version which is fantastic as it has just enough length to practice those pesky mid-range putts.
You can really feel the quality and the rubber bottom grips nicely to both my hard floors and carpeted rooms.
While it’s great for practicing lag putts and distance control – it runs at about 10 on the stimpmeter – the Pressure Putt Trainer will add a little extra interest to your practice.
It will return the ball to you when you make a good putt, but the ‘perfect putt’ will stick in a little hole in the device, an incredibly addictive challenge that will have you searching for that ideal pace and line for hours.
As for chipping nets, any real target to aim at is going to be useful.
Chipping is largely about hitting the correct spot at the right trajectory, so a simple net to aim at that you can move closer or farther away will do the job.
Practice hitting into the net at higher and lower trajectories to simulate lofted lobs and low runners you’d play on the course.
I like the Callaway Chip-Shot Net as it has several different pockets to aim for, allowing you to work on higher and lower shots without always having to move the net around.
It collapses nicely as well for transport to a friend’s house, or between home and work.
Backyard chipping – or indoors if you’re a real thrill seeker – is also great for pressure, as decelerating through a chip and hitting one out of the teeth may break your TV or dent your neighbour’s fence, perfect training for that lob wedge over water or bunkers on-course.
Can you practice golf without hitting balls?
Yes, you can practice golf without hitting balls. There are many drills that can be performed to work on posture, takeaway and club path, some from the comfort of your own home. Many people feel they need the feedback of a visual ball flight to get the most out of their practice, but by removing the ball you may actually find you focus better on the elements of your swing.
GolfersRX outline a range of excellent indoor swing drills that need the most basic of equipment, such as a club or alignment, stick in the video below.
Best golf drills to practice without hitting balls
Have a go at some of these drills outlined below and, when you next have a chance to get on the range, try and transfer the feel and concept to the actual hitting of balls.
Place an alignment stick along the ground, setting your feet up parallel to the stick.
Grab a golf club halfway down the shaft and practice your takeaway, ensuring that the club shaft matches the angle of the alignment stick when parallel to the ground.
Then, move the club head up towards the sky, paying attention to the position of the butt end of the club.
It should be pointing down towards the alignment stick as the club head reaches up skyward.
By repeating these steps a few times, it will help build that ever-important muscle memory, keeping you on plane when performing the backswing.
Grab a golf club and place it across your chest, crossing your arms to grip the shaft.
Take your regular stance with the club parallel to your feet.
As a right hander, you now want to slide your right foot back and come up onto your right toe, so that this is in line with your left heel, and bend your right leg a little.
From here, rotate the body using the club across your chest as if you were turning into the backswing.
If you have a tendency to slide or sway, you will find yourself losing balance, and need to try and stop this happening.
If you can master this drill, you will be far more likely to perform a good rotation, avoiding swaying and sliding.
The golf pro that I see regularly has also had me use this drill for head position, as I had developed a habit of allowing my head to drift to the left during my backswing.
This little drill with a raised right toe may do wonders for head positioning, promoting a stable head prior to impact.
This is a really simple drill that will help you work on your hand/wrist positioning throughout the swing, ensuring you have the correct amount of rotation at key stages.
This is a great drill to help people who are stuck in a habit of swinging ‘straight back and through’, a common error displayed by people who wrongly think rotating the club around the body on an arc will just throw the ball off course.
Grab a book and hold it between your hands, the right hand a little lower than left.
Stand over an imaginary golf ball as if you were about to play a shot with your arms hanging down; the book should be perpendicular to the target (so, the cover facing where you would be hitting).
Complete your takeaway and you should find the book moves into a position parallel to the target.
Move to the top of your swing and the book should still be parallel.
Complete your downswing and the book will return to perpendicular, before moving into your release where the wrists should roll so that that the book is parallel once more and wrists and hands point towards the target.
This drill is designed to be performed in a slow and steady fashion and will provide great feedback for someone who uses their wrists incorrectly throughout the swing due to poor habits or a flawed concept of the ‘correct’ golf swing.
Does hitting into a golf net help?
Hitting into a golf net can help your game massively as it will allow you to complete full swings without needing access to the course or range. You can use several drills to work on avoiding fat and thin shots, as well as film yourself to develop correct posture and avoid head dips or sways.
The fact that you can’t see the result of your shots – unless you have a launch monitor – is actually a positive, given that seeing the poor outcome of a new technique or swing thought may pressure us into reverting back to old ways and the poor habits we are trying to break.
While it’s important that we don’t use the net as an excuse to mindlessly whack balls at a rapid-fire rate, not knowing where your shot went can actually help you hone in on feels and set up, rather than fearing the outcome of each shot.
A video camera and tripod can be your friend here too, as filming from behind will let you identify club path issues and implement new techniques such as shallowing the club, while filming front on can assist you in eradicating a sway or keeping a still head position.
Once hitting into a net at home has given you confidence with those new feelings, you’ll be far more likely to replicate them on the range or course without running back to old techniques that you know don’t improve your scores.
How can I practice hitting golf balls at home?
There are many ways you can hit golf balls at home such as using a chipping or full swing net, or practicing with reduced flight golf balls. If you have the money, you could even consider forking out for a Trackman or Flightscope technology to create your very own simulator that will give you huge amounts of feedback on your swing.
Reduced flight golf balls – reduced enough so that you can use them in your backyard, that is – are a real ‘love them or hate them’ proposition.
Many people find them good fun to experiment with, while others see them as being utterly pointless.
Personally, I think the classic plastic balls with holes in them don’t really offer a whole lot, given they feel so poor off the clubface and don’t travel far at all.
Nonetheless, they are cheap, so why not give these plastic practice balls a try before moving onto a more expensive option.
Something like the Almost Golf Ball is going to give you far greater feedback, but given they still travel up to a third of the distance of a regular golf ball, you’ll need a rather sizeable yard to use these beyond your wedges.
The best backyard practice ball option is undoubtedly the BirdieBall, specifically designed to offer the best feedback of any reduced flight ball.
Maxing out at a flight of around 40 yards, you will likely be able to hit fairly full shots in a medium sized backyard, but the BirdieBall is also suitable for chipping.
The hollow structure means that the ball actually compresses similar to a normal golf ball, producing a unique sound and feel to indicate when a good strike has been performed.
Well renowned by golf pros and featured on numerous golf shows, the BirdieBall is definitely worth considering.
If you desperately want to hit full shots at home but find reduced flight or practice balls tedious, your only real option is to go for a good quality golf net.
The Rukket Haack Golf Net is a great size and has a sturdy structure that will withstand you pounding balls all day long.
However, if you’re anything like me, the inability to see the actual ball flight makes you feel like practicing hitting into a net is kind of pointless.
While I discussed earlier how you can actually get some good practice out of hitting into a net, a launch monitor is the only true way you’ll get real time feedback on your ball flight when whacking away into your backyard net.
Cheap Option – Rapsodo Mobile Launch Monitor
While it will still set you back $400, the Rapsodo Launch Monitor syncs up with your phone and will set up in 30 seconds.
They claim to provide accuracy within 2% of a Trackman, pretty impressive given it is a fraction of the price.
It includes shot tracer features, video replays and statistics like smash factor and launch angle, so you might find this entry level launch monitor option provides enough information to supplement your hitting net that you won’t need to upgrade.
Expensive Option – FlightScope Mevo+ Portable Personal Launch Monitor
If you really want to splash out for a high-quality launch monitor, the FlightScope Mevo+ (pictured above) will deliver a huge amount of data and reliable accuracy at a two grand price point.
I’ve hit with a FlightScope many times (my local pro uses one) and the accuracy and features are quite superb.
Not only does it provide all of the shot tracing playback and stats you’ll need, you can play preloaded courses which will really spice up your home net session.
While the price tag certainly isn’t cheap, for hours of entertaining practice and money saved on range balls, it might actually be a reasonable proposition for the dedicated golfer.
If you are someone who dreads the drive to the practice range or laments the cost of bucket after bucket of balls, practicing in your own home sounds like a dream.
While we may never replicate the at home setups of the pros – we can’t all make millions on tour – some simple purchases like putting mats and chipping nets could give us plenty to work with.
If you are a devoted golfer and really want to take your game to the next level, a launch monitor could just be the ticket you need.
While they aren’t cheap, I’ve met plenty of people who would have handed over a thousand bucks in a heartbeat to wipe 10 strokes off of their handicap, so maybe you deserve that early birthday present after all just to see what it might do for your game.