Building a backyard putting green is the dream for many amateur golfers hoping to add a first-rate practice area to their home.
A DIY putting green may seem like a daunting task, but the lower cost of materials and the ability to utilize internet resources have made the dream a reality for anyone.
Having a backyard putting green allows amateur golfers to have an actual golf course-type green near their home to work on their putting game around the clock. The benefits are tremendous for players who have trouble getting to their local course for practice.
By having a putting green mere yards away from their backdoor, they can develop the putting stroke and short game that will help them lower their scores.
In this guide on how to build a putting green at home, we’ll detail the cost and steps necessary for creating a real putting green to enjoy for many years to come.
Building a Backyard Putting Green Step-By-Step Guide
1. Find a Site for the Outdoor Putting Green
After you’ve landed on a site, take the time to design the shape of the high-quality putting green. Plan to add contour to the green to give your putts a natural break, the same slope you might see on a real green at the local golf club.
With putting greens, trees can also become a factor when they lose their leaves, but they provide exceptional shade during the hottest months of the year.
Along with maintenance due to trees, if you place your green close to a tree, expect to deal with roots. You could ultimately damage the tree by cutting into the root system, so you’ll want to avoid making that mistake.
2. Start Digging the Area
Next, you can start digging out the shape of the green. You only need to go roughly 4-6 inches deep, although some builders like to go even to the depths of 10-12 inches before you can start filling that hole with pea gravel and golf course sand to create that base.
You can dig out the area with a shovel or rent the services of a small earth moving tractor to help you remove the soil.
3. Lay Down Base Materials
Typically, the base materials for DIY golf greens include gravel or crushed stone plus sand. The stone goes in first, and the sand packs in to give the surfaces of the turf shape and contour.
Some builders prefer placing a concrete base before adding sand and gravel to the foundational base material. Concrete offers a solid foundation, but it can also be time-consuming and expensive if you are looking to install your backyard golf game area on a budget.
4. Install Drainage to Keep Green Healthy
Although your sand and gravel should drain without issue, you might need additional drainage solutions if you are dealing with a yard that won’t let the water move away from the green.
For most builders, laying additional drainage pipes helps move the water in the desired direction for draining. Four-inch perforated pipes laid with a herringbone pattern are the typical method for helping move water where you want it to drain.
5. Adding Slope
There are practical reasons you need slope on the green, such as draining water from the surface, and golf-specific reasons, such as experiencing true roll like you’ll see when you play on real golf courses.
If anything, you want to be subtle when adding or subtracting slope. The worst thing to experience is building a green where the ball roll doesn’t rest near the hole but instead continues to move because of high-degree slope.
The worst thing for your putting surface is to have standing water or runoff pools around the green. Another reason you need a slight degree of slope is that most professionals suggest at least 3-5 degrees from the middle to the edges of your green.
6. Choose Seed or Artificial Turf
Choosing between natural or artificial materials for your backyard golf area has advantages and disadvantages.
If you live in a warm climate, seeing the green and dealing with the maintenance of natural grass might be worth the hassle to get the authentic roll that you experience on actual putting greens.
On the other hand, if you live in a colder climate, the ability to putt on quality turf, even synthetic turf, outweighs the overwhelming demands of getting the green into shape for the summer months.
You can seed the green or even lay down sod, although you might need a sod cutter to shape the unique pieces around the edges of the green. Synthetic turf comes in rolls, so you’ll need to cut out the perimeter shapes as you would with natural sod.
7. Place the Holes
Hopefully, you’ve already decided where the cup, or holes, are going in your green. So after the grass has grown or you’ve already worked to install the synthetic turf, it’s time to actually place the cups into the putting surface.
With DIY kits that use artificial surfaces, the hole is already predetermined. But for natural backyard golfing areas, placing the hole can be a joy that offers the unique ability to reshape the putts you face every time you play.
8. Create a Maintenance Routine
With natural greens, you’ll need a mower to make the low cuts you expect from a real course. Also, you’ll need the services of a push broom to sweep away any debris that falls around the hole.
If your green uses real grass, you’ll need a weed killer spray to keep your putting surface free from obstacles. And during the fall and winter, a leaf blower comes in really handy to keep the turf free from leaves, so you have a clean surface to work on your putting.
With synthetic turf, you may need to spray paint areas from time to time after the damage from the sun has set on the artificial turf. However, that type of maintenance is rather infrequent and more about how you want the area to appear.
How to Build a Putting Green FAQ
How much does it cost to build a putting green at home?
While professional installers, like Tour Greens, the green cost runs roughly $15-30 per square foot.
By doing it yourself, you can expect to build your own green for roughly 50% of that price because you are in charge of the labor. If you are looking to use one of many DIY kits for building your own synthetic putting green turf, you can expect a cost of $15-20 per sq. foot.
How do you prepare the ground for a putting green?
You’ll want to take special care of the area when digging for the green.
First, you want to completely clear the area of debris such as limbs, rocks, stumps, or roots. Those obstacles will only impede proper drainage and make it tougher for you to dig out the necessary square footage.
Also, while some builders use shovels and wheelbarrows, others use small earth movers to dig out the hole. The earth mover can also be used to load up rocks and limbs to haul away from the area, making it a handy piece of machinery.
How long does it take to build a putting green?
Putting greens can take months to build based on the time you have to work. For golfers putting in the manual labor alone, the ability to free themselves from their daily life could be the biggest obstacle.
But with the foresight to plan ahead and make the journey enjoyable, you can install your very own putting green in as little as a few weeks.
How do you make a real grass putting green?
Building a real grass green in your backyard, especially one in the middle of an already established lawn, takes planning and a lot of elbow grease.
After prepping the area and digging out the shape of the backyard putting green, you’ll want to lay down drainage pipes before adding the decomposed granite and sand to produce the actual slope.
Once the base materials have been added and smoothed out, you need to decide if you are seeding or using sod in the backyard area.
Most DIY advocates like using grass that handles the local climate well, such as Bermuda or whatever grass your local golf course uses for their tour greens, so pay particular attention before installing.
With time and watering, the seeding or sod should grow rather quickly, much like a regular lawn. Also, don’t forget you’ll want to create an authentic chipping area with various grass heights to work on hitting shots with several different lies.