While there’s nothing quite like getting out there and hitting some balls on a genuine golf course, most golfers can’t spend every day on the green. When you feel the itch to pitch, chip, and putt, it’d be nice to be able to practice your game outside your door. Golf training tools make that happen. If you want a little midday practice, a net, mat, or chipping target can facilitate. But how do you choose between the golf training aids on the market? This guide will show you what to look for when choosing a golf net, golf mat, or chipping target.
If you want to hit balls in your yard, you’re going to need something to keep them from hitting your neighbor’s window. Golf nets are the first tool in any professional or amateur golfer’s toolbox, and a good net should be your top priority. What makes a good net?
A golf net is useless if it’s too small to actually catch your balls. Look for nets that are at least 10 feet wide in case your shot goes wide. The farther away you can set your net, the taller you’ll want it to be. In most cases, a seven foot net should suffice.
Do you want a portable golf net? If you’re looking for a golf net that folds up and is easy to transport, a portable golf net may be the best choice. Don’t just look at the size of the golf net when it’s unfolded. If you can’t stand the thought of yet another golf training tool cluttering your garage, make sure the golf net you choose folds down to a reasonably small size – but be careful! Some nets are portable because they are made of flexible, cheap material, which brings us to the next aspect of buying a golf net.
Golf Net Frame Materials
Golf nets have two primary components: the net itself, and the golf net frame that holds the net. Where will you be practicing? If you want to golf indoors only, you don’t need to worry about whether or not the material will rust. However, if you’d like an indoor and outdoor golf net (or just an outdoor golf net), you should make sure your frame is made of a durable material like carbon steel or aluminum. Many lower-end nets use fiberglass frames. These are less expensive but more fragile, so be prepared to purchase replacements as they tend to break.
Golf Net Thickness
When you’re looking at netting, there are two primary factors: the thickness of the netting, and whether it’s knotted or knotless netting. Just like toilet paper, thickness is indicated by ‘ply,’ or the number of layers used. The higher the ply, the more resilient your net will be when you’re slamming balls. If you’re using real golf balls rather than practice balls, look for a net that’s at least 4-ply.
Some golf nets are double-netted, with an interior and exterior net for redundancy. This is a great feature because if one net breaks, your golf net isn’t useless; you can keep practicing your shots as you wait for the replacement net to arrive. Tensile strength is another good indicator of durability. For example, the Haack Net Pro is made of 600D nylon webbing. The ‘D’ stands for denier, and the higher the number, the stronger the material. You can’t just look at the number, though. The material also matters. Nylon is stronger than polyester, so a net made from 400D nylon will be more durable than a 600D polyester net. The fabric used for the Haack Net is actually the same fabric that military backpacks are made of – that’s how resistant to wear and tear it is.
Knotted or Knotless?
Most nets are made of synthetic materials woven into a knitted mesh. This mesh netting can be either knotted or knotless. Knotless netting is stronger and more durable than knotted netting, so it’s less prone to damage from those hard shots. If a knotless net does break, though, it can’t be retied. If you’re choosing between a poorly made knotless net and a well-made knotted net, go for the knotted, because the knotless net cannot be repaired.
Bells and Whistles
While the attributes listed above are important, there are some extra features that separate the good from the great when it comes to golf nets. These add-ons indicate that you’re purchasing a thoughtfully designed golf net that is built to last.
- A ball roll back feature saves you time and space, especially when you’re travelling.
- A double-layered base can protect your floors from damage during indoor use.
- Side barrier netting is useful for corralling stray balls, especially for golfers who hook, slice, or hit the occasional shank.
A golf mat goes hand in glove with a golf net, since the best training tools mimic the environment out on the course. There are two factors that differentiate golf mats: size and turf type.
You don’t need a room-sized golf mat. Ideally, the mat will be large enough that you can hit all clubs on it while in proper golf stance. For most individuals, a 3’ x 5’ or 4’ x 4’ mat should suffice. If you’re purchasing a large golf mat, find one that separates into sections. That way, if one part of the mat is damaged, you only need to replace that particular section rather than the entire thing.
The thickness of the mat also plays a role in how well your practice shots will translate to the course. When you strike a ball from the fairway or the turf, your club is going to create a divot. If you’re hitting a ball that’s resting on a flat surface, your club will bounce and you’ll end up with a fat shot. Your golf mat needs to have a bit of give to it in order to accurately re-create the way your shots will travel on the course.
This thickness is especially important if you’re also standing on the golf mat. If you want to travel with your mat and net, you’re probably not going to be bringing any 3’ x 5’ golf mats on a plane or in a car. For a portable golf mat, you want as little base as possible so you don’t have to choke down on your clubs.
Golf Mat Materials
No two turfs are alike, and even if you’ve perfected your shot on one type of turf, you may need a lot of help on others. Some mats, like the Tri-Turf Golf Hitting Mat, give the golfer the option of teeing off on more than one type of turf. Choose from fairway turf, rough turf, and tee turf to imitate the variety of surfaces you’ll encounter out on the course.
The bottom of your mat should be made from a firm material that will keep the mat from sliding around after you swing. Rubber is an excellent choice; foam also works well. A strong glue (or other adhesive) is essential to a golf mat that will wear well. If the mat is poorly glued to the base, it will separate after several shots. In many cases, you get what you pay for with a golf mat. High-quality materials make a golf mat that can last you many years and hundreds of thousands of shots, but they cost more to manufacture and therefore to purchase.
Chipping is an instrumental skill for your short game, and chipping targets are a great way to practice. The best golfers devote hours to honing their chip shots, and that practice can be the difference between par and a triple-bogey. There are at least a dozen chipping nets on the market, so how can you choose one that’s right for your game?
Indoor, Outdoor, or Both?
Indoor targets are just for chipping and are perfect when you’re craving your clubs on a cold winter’s day. Outdoor targets can be larger and therefore more versatile, but indoor/outdoor chipping targets offer the best of both worlds. You can practice chipping indoors, but head outside for hitting and pitching practice. Outdoor targets should be staked down so they don’t blow away; make sure the chipping target you purchase includes stakes.
Chipping targets take a lot of abuse and need to be made of sturdy materials. As mentioned, nylon is more durable than polyester and tends to last longer. If you’re planning on practicing outside, the frame should be rust-resistant and weather-proof. Many companies advertise that their nets are ‘durable,’ but you don’t have to take their word for it. Find out what specific materials the chipping target is made of before you purchase, so you buy a product that will last you years.
Some chipping targets offer multiple net baskets so you can practice airborne shots at different heights. Others have a single target that cannot be adjusted; once you master that shot, your chipping target is a lot less useful to you. A third type of chipping target has just one hole to aim for, but the target can be adjusted to variable heights. This last kind of target has the benefits of a multi-hole chipping target, but is smaller and more portable.
Bundle it Up!
Many of these golf training tools are available to purchase in bundles. These golf training aids work in conjunction with one another, and practicing with all three can improve your game far more than just the golf net, golf mat, or chipping target alone. A golf training tool bundle can save you money and equip you with the tools you need to practice like a pro.
You’ll find lists of the top 10 golf nets and reviews of chipping targets all over the web, but almost every reputable reviewer includes a Rukk Net. Rukket Sports is the leader in golf training equipment because, like you, we’re out there every day practicing our shots and striving to be better today than we were yesterday. And the best way to do that is to practice.