Building a custom indoor putting green is easier and cheaper than you might think. With cold weather approaching I looked for a efficient way to improve my golf game in the comfort of my own home. I looked into tons of premade golf putting greens available on the market but none fit what I was looking for, at least not at a price point I was willing to pay. Because of this I decided to build a practice putting green in my basement. In this article I will explain how I built my custom putting green and what elements you should consider when planning your own.
How much does a custom indoor putting green cost?
Cost was a big reason why I chose to custom build my practice putting green. Like all things custom your cost will depend on design features you choose. My 5’ x 12’ green cost less about $300.
How long does it take to build an indoor putting green?
Depending on your experience and if you have the right tools you can build your putting green in a few hours. If you decide to glue your putting surface or paint the frame it will take a bit longer due to drying but you should still be able to finish it all in a weekend.
Designing Your custom Putting Green
This is the most important step and will be custom to your needs. Some things to consider are:
- Speed of putting surface
- Do you want any break
- Permanent vs portable
Best size putting green for practicing
The size of your putting green is the biggest decision you have to make. Consider where you will building your green. I built mine in my basement so I had a good amount of room but I had a few elements to design around. Length wise I determined that 12’ was my max as any longer and it would approach my stairs landing and I didn’t want it to feel cramped. Width wise I had a support pole that I needed to avoid but also wanted to leave a few feet extra so the flow of traffic to our TV was not disrupted. Because of this I chose my width of 5’
Tom Fielding has a great article on putt probabilities that you should check out to get a better idea what distance you should be practicing. For myself and most amateurs you should really focus on the 4 – 10 foot range. For any putts longer than that your focus should really be on lag putting and setting yourself up to make your second putt
Another thing to consider when choosing what size green you want is the building materials you will use. Sheets of plywood come in 4’ x 8’ so for simplicity or reducing cost you may want to choose a size based on that. Because of this 4’x8’, 8’x8’, and 4’x16’ are popular sizes. I went with a 5’x12’ design and was able to build it with 2 sheets of plywood. Turf generally comes in 12’ or 15’ wide rolls and can be cut to any length.
One last thing to consider is your spacing for standing room, cups, and any trim you may add. Although my green is 12’ long, the longest putt I can practice is about 11’. This is due to the cups being a few inches from the edge on each side. The width should also be considered so that you have enough room to stand on the putting green and be level with the ball. I wanted a few feet on both sides of the cups so both right and left handed players could use it
To Break or Not to Break?
This is a question I went back and forth with numerous times during my planning phase. Having a break on out indoor putting green sounds great, it would offer more variety and we could practice more realistic situations. I mean when was the last time on a course you had a perfectly flat putt? These are the things I considered in my design but ultimately decided against and I’ll tell you why.
For me, practicing putting at home is about getting your putter face square when you strike the ball. Check out this article by golfwrx on the importance of a square putter face at contact. Just having your putter face open 2 degrees at impact will result in a miss from 5 feet! At 8 feet, the putter face needs to less than 1 degree open or closed to the target for your putt to go in. Increase the distance to 15 feet and the putter face needs to less than 0.5 degrees open or closed to the target for the putt to go in
Being able to hit the ball square every time will greatly increase your ability to make putts. No green is the same and you will never be able to replicate every putt at home. You should practice your green reading skills on the course. Read the green, visualize the path in your mind that the ball have to travel to go in the cup. With your practice at home you will be able to confidently hit the ball straight down your envisioned line, leading to more made putts and a lower scorecard.
Now even though I didn’t build in breaks into my design. I can still have some break added by shimming the frame. This method does not allow multiple breaks. You will be limited to simple left, right, up and down break throughout the whole frame.
Permanent or Removable Putting Green
This is another important thing to consider. If you live in an apartment or have limited space then a custom built putting green probably isn’t the best option for you. Frames add a lot of weight to a green and make it a lot harder to put away when not in use. If you determine that a custom putting green isn’t for you then have no fear, there are many realistic putting mats that can be rolled up for easy storage. I have an in depth write up on the best portable putting greens that you can check out.
What You Need to Build a Custom Putting Green
- Framing 2” x 6”
- Flooring ¾” plywood/composite board
- Putting mat
- Carpet Adhesive
- Razor blade/ carpet knife
- Carpenter square
- 4 ¼” Hole Saw
- Tape measure
How to build a Custom Putting Green
Step 1: Building the Outer Frame
I recommend that you build your green in the spot it will be used, depending on the size you choose it could weigh a couple hundred pounds when your down. Start by laying out four 2”x6” that
will be your putting greens outer frame. You should place the framing with their best looking sides facing out. This will improve the look of your final build if you choose not to use trim. With your carpenter square to make sure your outer frame is square. To avoid movement and the wood from splitting you should pre-drill before screwing each piece together.
Step 2: Installing the Inner Frame
Support beams are used to support the floor so it does not sag when you stand on the platform. Support beams should be cut to fit the inside of your frame. 2”x6” are 1 ½” wide so your support beams will be 3” shorter than your overall greens width (1 ½” outer frame on each side = 3”). In my build my green is 5’ wide so my support beams were cut to 4’9”.
After cutting your support beams it is time to install them. If your build is larger than the standard 4’x8’ that plywood comes in you will need place the support beam centered where the seams of plywood will meet first. You want this support beam to support both sheets of plywood so it is a good idea lay your plywood down and position the support beam so both sheets of plywood rest on half of the support beam before attaching it. Once you have the position marked you can remove the plywood. Drill your pilot holes and attach the first support beam.
Now that you have installed the required support beams to support the plywood edges you may move on to adding in the rest. You should space the rest of your cross supports every 12ish inches depending on the size of your green.
Once your framing is complete it is time to make sure it is level. If you are building your green in a basement like me it is very likely that your floor slopes to a drain. For my 5’x12’ green one of my corners was off by 3”. To level your green you can use wood shims to correct slight differences and leftover 2”x6” for any larger corrections. I recommend you adjust the outer frame and add few supports to the inner frame, this will ensure your green stays level and does not bow over time.
Step 3: Secure Plywood/Particle Board
Now that the framing level it is time to attach the plywood to the frame. Lay the plywood down on top of your frame and make sure everything is square and all edge of the plywood are supported by support beams.
Before attaching the plywood it is a good idea to mark where the support beams are under the plywood so you can avoid them when choosing cup position. Once you have all the supports marked you can pre-drill and screw down the edges of plywood.
With the corners secured walk around your platform you constructed and make sure there is no sagging. If there is sag, you will need to add more support beams. If there is no sag you can continue securing the plywood down the edges and along the support beams every 12 inches.
Step 4 : Drill Holes for Cups
With your support beams marked it is now time to plan where you want the cups. When planning cup placement consider whether you are right-handed or left-handed and leave room for your putting stance. It is also a good idea to keep the holes near the edges to maximize your space.
Once you have your cup placement picked out it is time to drill the holes. This was the hardest part for me so take your time. When using a 4 ¼” hole saw the intended way I found that I could not make a clean cut and the drill kept jumping around. Instead I put my drill in reverse and slowly worked my way through. This made the cut much more clean. I also highly recommend using a hole saw with a pilot drill bit attached. The pilot hole will ensure you stay centered and cut a clean hole.
Step 5: Install Cups
After drilling the holes it is time to install the cups. The cups should be a tight fit and may require a little force to get flush with the plywood. You can use a scrap piece of wood over the cup and gently hammer it down. If the cup is a little loose in the the hole you drilled you can add a little bit of glue around the edges to ensure it stays in place. Repeat this process for as many cups as you planned.
Step 6: Glue Down Green
Sweep the plywood to clear any saw dust off that may prevent a solid bond between the turf and plywood. Next roll out your putting green turf and position it so it covers your entire platform. Using some weights or stacks of books can help flatten the curling ends. You may need the turf to sit for a few days until all the ridges have been smoothed.
With the turf weighed down, roll back a few feet on one side and apply carpet glue evenly across the exposed plywood, then roll the turf back down onto the glue. Walk around on the turf you just glued down ensuring a good contact with the glue and to make sure there no bumps or ridges. Add your stack of books/ weights back to turf so it remains flat while it dries.
After the glue dries, roll up the other end of turf and spread glue evenly over the next couple feet. Roll the turf back down pulling it tight. Again walk around the area you just glued and place the weight back on while it dries. You will repeat this process until your entire green is securely glued down.
Step 7: Trim turf and cut cup holes
Using a carpet knife/ razor blade cut along the edges of the platform you built to remove any extra turf. Angle your razor inward and use the wood frame as a guide to help cut in a straight line. If any of your edges aren’t glued fully, now is the time to add some more.
Locate the holes you drilled, you should be able to feel a little give in the turf where the holes are. If not, you can use a small nail to push through the turf to locate them without leaving a noticeable mark.
Using you carpet knife carefully cut your holes in the turf. I found it easier to cut an X in the center and remove smaller pieces at a time. Then I was able to cut a circle using the cup as a guide with my carpet knife. Once the hole is cut ensure the edges of the hole are glued down well. Add more glue if needed.
Step 8: Adding Ball Stop
The last step before trying out your putting green is adding a rail around the perimeter of your green. This will prevent the ball from rolling off the green if you miss your putt.
For my green I chose to use 1”x2” trim overhanging the turf so it hide the cut edges of turf. This was a slightly more expensive option but I think it was worth it and it made for a more professional looking finished product.
Cheaper options include ¾” pvc pipe which is under $3 per 10’ and corner pieces are less than a dollar at HomeDepot. Another option is to use 2”x8” boards as your outer frame instead of 2”x6”. This would leave your outer frame a bit higher than your cross-beams + plywood + turf. If you choose this option remember to cut your plywood to the size of your inner frame (width of your cross supports).
No matter what option you choose for your bumper rail, you will attached them all the same way.
Cut your railing to the desired size, line up edges, pre-drill, and screw/nail.
The last step of your build is all cosmetic and optional. You can use wood filler to fill any nail holes or gaps in the trim. After filling in any holes or imperfections, sand the area smooth. When your done fixing any imperfections you will be ready for paint or stain. I went with a dark brown flooring paint that I had left over from painting our basement stairs.
Another thing I added that I would recommended is marking distances from the cups. To do this I used a hole punch on a piece of paper and used it as a stencil. Using the stencil I marked every foot from the hole along the edge railing.
Now that your custom indoor putting green is complete check out my tips on how to practice putting more efficiently.