The Off-Season Series is practically over as the temperatures have reached the 70s in my home state (it feels great to hit a bucket outside!). That doesn't mean I can't tempt you with some great indoor options to practice your putting on those rainy spring days.
One facet of my game that I have spent more time over this past winter than in years past is on my putting. I spent most of 2006 looking for a new putter and after testing many different models, I finally decided upon a Scotty Cameron Studio Style Newport 2 (although I am now tempted by the new Circa 62s with the charcoal mist that Jack described in a Bag Drop column).
Other than messing around in my office, I typically don't putt on carpet. It's much too thick and I feel that I really have to smack the ball pretty hard in order to get to my target. If you are a carpet putter though and are looking for a training aid that looks cool, check out Dave's review of the Boomerang Putting System.
My putting mat is an Izzo eight foot continuous return putting green that you can get from our friends at Edwin Watts. It sits on the concrete floor in my basement and works pretty well. I've made marks at three and six feet and try to make anywhere from ten to fifteen in a row between the two. I like the mat and it works well however that doesn't mean I'm not out looking for something better.
In my search for that "something better", I have found out that there seems to be a multitude of options when finding a putting mat. Izzo has a few other ones that either allow you to stand on the fake grass to having three different holes to hit at. These seem to be nice low cost options but there are some others that have me intrigued.
I have putted on one of the Mirage putting greens at a local golf retailer while I was on my search for a new putter. The putts rolled very nicely and I didn't feel I was putting on a synthetic surface. Another option I looked at was with Southwest Putting Greens. These look great as well and I would love to replace part of my backyard with either one of these however they are quite spendy and I don't see getting final approval from my wife.
That led me to search for a better indoor mat and the two that I am most interested in are from Backyard Putting Greens and Links Putt. Pricing seemed to be a little easier on the wallet as you can get a 13 foot practice green for under $450 from Backyard Putting Greens and a three meter (9.84 feet) practice green from Links Golf for about $560. I am leaning a bit more towards the Links Putt as it can contoured to simulate different breaking putts as well as uphill and downhill putts. The break that can be created by the Links Putt is really quite impressive.
The last thing I am in the market for is a laser to use as an aiming guide when I practice. My first experience with using one was when I had some work done on an old putter of mine last summer at Totally Driven and one of the training aids they used was a laser to see if you are lined up with the cup. To my surprise, I found that I had been aiming right on the vast majority of my putts and after a few short minutes, my aim had gotten much better and I was draining a few more putts.
Two potential options I found are the Newtronics Laser Trainer which you can get at Edwin Watts and the Putting Laser Line from Eyeline Golf. I'm a bit more inclined to try out the laser that clips to the shaft rather than directly onto the putter head itself as I think that could be distracting. (If you have used either, please comment below!)
The off-season is pretty much over however there will still be rainy days and other commitments that do not allow you to get out to the course or practice facility. Having a practice mat can help hone your putting skills during those times although if you have unlimited funds, turning your backyard into your personal mini-putt course might not be that bad of an idea as you will have more time to golf due to having a smaller yard to mow.
Photo Credits: ©Izzo, ©Links Putt, ©Edwin Watts