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Cigar Aficionado

Classic: Backyard Putting Greens

Classic: Backyard Putting Greens
Photo: Hugh Sitton/Stocksy

The Good Life Guide may not have been born until shortly before Cigar Aficionado’s 10th anniversary, but the pursuit of excellence has been part of our DNA from the get-go. The section started with just seven categories and soon Time, Places and Gourmet joined the regular roster. On the occasion of our 25th anniversary we tapped the archives of some of our favorite Good Life Guides from the past.

You’re skulking off the course, the laughter of your golfing buddy burning in your ears. Not because you can’t grip and rip. You missed a two-foot putt. Again.

Your short game needs work. But the course is miles away, and your wife already thinks you spend too much time at the club. What you need is at-home practice. Not the cup on the living room carpet variety, but real green time. That used to mean spending a lot of time with a bent grass mower. But today’s artificial-turf greens let homeowners putt away at home with virtually no maintenance on synthetic grass with a Stimp rating of 10 to 11.

Neil Robertson, the designer/builder for Prolinks Putting Greens in Wilton, Connecticut, says custom greens can be built in any shape and size that people want. Many of his jobs start by ripping out grass greens that owners want replaced.

If you’re thinking a carpet and hole, think again. Greens can be designed with any variety of breaks and sways to challenge putt reading. Each hole typically has four or five cup locations. Installation doesn’t end at the green fringe. Surrounding areas where golf balls often die, short of the green, can be created.

Artificial greens can be installed in most spots, even indoors. Locations with hills require more work (and cost) for the reinforced walls that level a green and keep it from resembling a miniature golf course. Robertson says he’ll install sand traps, hills, even the devilish British Open-style pot bunkers that foiled David Duvall’s hopes in 2000 of a claret jug. For those blessed with estate-sized backyards, a personal par-3 hole is an option.

Becoming king of the links doesn’t come cheap. Robertson’s work begins at $10,000; a lavish job can run $100,000. Maintenance costs around $200 a year, and Robertson’s team will cut new holes (to change the angles of attack) and clean off the green, which owners are encouraged to sweep free of debris on a regular basis. Some golfers install their own turf to save money, but that would take away from practice time.