Pros: Reasonable price, custom stimp, portable
Cons: Questionable quality for long term use
I was looking for an indoor putting green that met my specific needs;
- Portable, I don't have room for a dedicated putting mat
- Higher quality than what's typically found in the box stores which are typically limited to 1'x10', cheap carpet material and requires all putts be uphill to accommodate the auto ball return
- Actual stimp ratings to simulate my home course green
I've used the box store 1'x10' putting mats and while they can help you to make a stroke I didn't feel my putting was improving from using it. Most of my issues are with aim and the mat I owned makes alignment easy given the built in lines on it.
Package and Unpacking:
I ordered the 4x9 mat for 149.99 but Birdieball offers a free upgrade to the next size so I received the 4'x13.5' mat with dual stimp (fast, medium). It arrives in a box that's about 4.5' x 2' x 2'. The mat itself is about 1/2" thick and it's rolled up in the box. The mat is textured on the one side and more closely resembles an actual green than the traditional putting mats I've used.
Included in the box were 3 standard depth ball cups and 1 deep ball cup, 3 flag sticks that are designed to sit on top of the cups to prevent the ball from rolling right over the shallow cups. Also included were some additional foam pieces to slip under the mat to add breaks to the green, 2 4' rubber trim pieces for the ends of the mat (additional rubber trim pieces are available if you want to leave it setup). a storage bag for the mat and a dozen birdieballs.
Despite being rolled up for a week or two during shipment the mat laid flat when rolled out and the rubber trim pieces were attached. The mat I ordered has two stimp ratings, in one direction it's rated as fast (11-13 stimp) and the other direction is medium, (10-11 stimp). The directions suggest using a push broom to clean the mat and to maintain the stimp ratings by using the broom in the same direction as the grain. The mat has 2 cups on one end spaced apart at the same distance and there's one cup at the other end. You can request additional cups or add your own if you like.
I've been trying to practice for about an hour a day when possible. The mat rolls much closer to a real putting green than my previous mats. The mat lies flat (unless you add some of the foam underneath to create breaks). This allows you to better judge your putting stroke since you don't have to account for the extra speed required to get the ball up the ramp. I did notice some shedding when I first set it up, but I believe that it was left over fuzz from when it was cut, since I've been using it regularly I haven't seen any fuzz around the floor.
The mat is foam but the site claims you can wear shoes on it. I have avoided wearing spiked golf shoes on it out of fear the spikes would damage the mat. Your feet do sink a little into the mat, but the mat is springy and completely reforms in a few seconds.
There is a noticeable difference in the speed of the green depending on the direction of the putt. I was concerned that with the cups being so shallow they would not stop the ball unless the speed was perfect but the flag sticks and cups do a pretty good job in "catching" the ball and holding it. The flags have 4 slots built into the base that allow it to hold 4 balls and easily remove them from the cup.
The 4' width allows me to practice my alignment and aim much better than the 1' mats did. I also find that the lack of lines or markings requires me to be more conscious of my alignment to the hole rather than being lazy and using the lines my old putting mat had.
The mat is foam so I'm curious to see how long it will last under regular use. I did consider some of the more expensive mat options like Big Moss and Tour Links but they are better suited to people that have the space to keep the mats set up permanently.
Birdie Ball rolls up and stores into the bag which makes it nice and portable. So far it's unrolled and laid flat every time, I haven't gone more than a few days of not using it, so it's possible over a long period of time, the mat will take some time to flatten out.
Overall, I enjoy using the mat and think the mat is a great value. I hope it improves my putting, but that won't be determined until the Spring. I'll keep you posted.