Posted by Vinnie Brascia

Categories: General, Practice.

Welcome to the 2017 Holiday Gift Giving Guide.

Today, in Part 1, we take a look at gifts for the golfer who would like to have an at home practice area.

The Mat

The first step for any at home practice area is a high quality practice mat. While there are dozens of different types of mats available, for my money there is one option that stands out – The Country Club Elite Golf Mat sold by Costco.

It stands out for two reasons. First, it really is a high quality golf mat that will absorb a lot of the shock of a swing’s impact. Second, it’s sold by Costco so you’re truly getting the best price possible on a mat of this quality.

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of buying a thick, lush mat that will absorb a lot of the impact of a swing. Most mats you find at driving ranges are nothing more than a piece of rubber with a thin layer of artificial turf on top. While this can be fine for warming up or the occasional practice session, repeated use – on a daily basis – of a mat like this can lead to injuries. Tendinitis is the most common injury, and it can put you on the shelf for months if you’re not careful.

Go with the 5 x 5 mat. The Costco price is $449 and that includes shipping. If you find something less expensive on the internet or in your local golf superstore, you are most likely sacrificing on the quality and cushioning of the mat.

Don’t go cheap in this area – your hands, wrists, arms and shoulders will thank you!

Here is where you can buy the Costco Country Club Elite Golf Mat:

The Net

The next step for a home practice area is a high quality net. Once again, like mats, this is an area with dozens of different options all of varying quality. The gold standard for golf nets is The Net Return.

The Net Return

I have a Net Return and I can attest to it being a high quality product. It sets up relatively easy (about 7-8 minutes for a single person), it has a big footprint (be sure to check the dimensions before purchasing to make sure you have space), and it is safe.

With that said, it’s not perfect. Here are a couple of caveats.

First, the return feature really does work. So much so, that it can actually be a bit annoying while you are using the product. What do I mean by this? Well, the net is so efficient at returning the ball back to you that it doesn’t really allow you to fully complete your swing. Often times, you will find yourself settling into your finish when you have to unwind and reach out with your foot or your club to try and stop the returning the ball.  It just happens really quickly.

Now, this is not a deal breaker by any means. But it can be a bit of an inconvenience.

Second, I used the Net Return in my garage. And, if you place it on a hard surface (like a concrete floor) the ball will often bounce during the return process. So, what does this mean? Well, in addition to needing to unwind quickly to stop a rolling return, often you will need to actually stop the ball off of the bounce in order to keep it from ping ponging all around your practice area.  Once again, not a deal breaker, but a bit of an inconvenience.

Now, there are a couple of home solutions for these problems. The first is to make sure you have a soft landing area below the net. I used some carpet and towels to soften the landing area. Second, if you want to stop the return feature (which I ended up doing), you need to place a few beach towels at the base of the net to catch balls that are returning to the impact area.

Make sense? Good!

Now, despite these caveats, it is still the gold standard for hitting nets.  It is big, safe and reliable.

It comes in two sizes, the Pro Series and the Mini Pro Series. The Pro Series will handle any club in the bag – even a lob wedge. In my experience, you would have to open a wedge up quite a bit to hit it over the net. However, since it can handle any club in the bag, it also has a big footprint – 8’ W, 7 1/2’ H, and 3 1/2’ D. It takes up a lot of space. If space is an issue, go with the Mini. It is great as well. However, given the smaller footprint (only 6’ high), it is not recommended for use with wedges.

The Pro goes for $549. The Mini goes for $495.

NetReturn is offering 10% off through the 11th. Use the coupon code “Holiday” at checkout.

Shipping will set you back another $50 or so depending on your location. But their customer service is great so they’ll get it out to you quickly.

Here are links to each net:

Pro Series Golf & Multi-Sport Net

Mini Pro Series Net

Lastly, if the net will be used in an area where an errant shot could cause some damage, please consider purchasing the side netting as well. The side barriers can be ordered here:

Home Series Side Barriers – (2 Sandbags Included)

If The Net Return is a bit beyond your budget, there are other options.

SKLZ Quickster Net

The Quickster Net comes in two sizes (6 x 6 and 8 x 8) and sets up relatively quickly in about 5-7 minutes. It’s not as durable or sturdy as the Net Return, but it also sells for a lot less at around $100 on (depending on the size).

Here’s a link to the Quickster net on Amazon:

Spornia Golf Net

Spornia is a small distributor based here in Southern California. I came upon them awhile back when I was looking for an easy to set up, pop up net. The Spornia Net fit the bill.

Here’s a link to the Spornia net on Amazon:

It really is a nifty product. It sells for $199, and I have found it to be very easy to set up and take down (and, that’s why I ended up purchasing a Spornia, because I needed my garage space back – thus, I needed something that was easy to set up and take down).

Now, I have over a dozen years of coaching youth soccer and softball in my background. Thus, I understand the mechanics of setting up and taking down a pop up net. For those of you without this experience, I can assure you that the first few times you try do to this, it is tougher than it looks. So, if after watching the videos on the Spornia site regarding the setup and take down procedures you are still a bit daunted, opt for the SKLZ net.

But, if you think you can figure it out – and, trust me, you can – I really think the Spornia is a great net.  94% of the reviews on Amazon give it 5 stars.  I would agree.  It’s a great net and a great value.

OK – that’s it for mats and nets. You’ve got a few options. Check back tomorrow for our recommendations on personal launch monitors. If you really want to make a big impact this holiday season, there’s nothing like a personal launch monitor for the golfer on your list.

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