How much does a putting green cost?

DIY putting green

If you're thinking of building a putting green in your backyard (or anywhere else!), you have some decisions to make and these will affect the cost: Size, real vs. artificial grass, DIY or professional installer. Lots of details about the different options are below, but for a quick answer to the question "how much does a putting green cost?", here are some general price guidelines:

How much does a putting green cost - by size and material

Cost of a backyard putting green

Note - these are rough figures and many factors will affect the final cost of installation: accessibility of the site, square foot pricing of your grass (if artificial), complexity of the design and any extra features.

Real vs. artificial turf?

This dictates just about everything. Take a look at the video below showing how to build and maintain a green:

Sounds like hard work! To be honest, even if you did all of that, I think you'd be disappointed with the results. The putting surface is extremely unlikely to be of a good enough standard to really help your golf game.

As the owner of a outdoor putting area (and having tried and failed to mow a normal lawn into a putting green), I'd strongly recommend artificial grass. Here's a full article on how to install an artificial grass green.

In short, although you get the authentic look with real grass and can have a lower installation cost, synthetic golf greens need less work and take less time in the long run. If you're willing to spend more to get the best type of turf (Southwest Greens and Huxley greens are the best I've used) you'll get more or less the performance of natural grass both on putting and short game shots.

Is it hard to maintain a natural grass putting green?

In a word, yes! I really wouldn't try unless you have cash to spare beyond the construction project's cost and can employ someone with experience on the ground staff of a golf course.

Even with a gardener, you won't have the skill and understanding to maintain fine grass to the kind of standard you'd need for serious game improvement. Just the mowing takes a different piece of equipment from your regular lawn mower and maintaining that mower needs extensive training.

The maintenance cost of a backyard green is also a factor you can underestimate. The average club spends $7,000 per year per green on maintenance. They:

  • Mow the green several times a week.
  • Hollow tine (aerate) the green at least twice a year
  • Top dress the green usually with sand several times a year
  • Feed and weed the green
  • Treat for fungus and other infections.

How do you mow a putting green?

The type of mower you'll need is a reel or cylinder mower and it's far from a standard machine that's used to cut putting greens. A brand new top-of-the-range golf green reel mower will set you back around $9,000 and while used mowers are plentiful, the maintenance and parts can be prohibitively expensive.

The mower works differently from a rotary-blade mower by cutting the blades of grass between the rotating reel of blades against a blade at the bottom of the machine.

If you want decent speed on your green, you'll need to mow the grass at less than 1/8th of an inch. Further information about the mowing aspect of maintaining a green is available here

How much does it cost to build a small putting green?

If all you're after is a small green, I would suggest a putting green kit from a company like Bella Turf or XGrass.

These are artificial green products which provide you everything you need to install a decent looking green yourself with a step-by-step installation process.

They offer a variety of golf greens and remove the headaches of shopping around for the different materials you'll need (harder than I expected) and you can be sure that the design of the green will be good at the end. All round a

They're billed as the "ultimate weekend project" to transform your own backyard. Having installed my own putting area, I can't imagine you'd ever get it done in 48 hours without considerable help with the manual labor!

Real-life example - How much does a putting green cost? Find out here with my home putting green and full-shot area project. Details here...

What is a good size for an outdoor putting green?

The average PGA tour green is 5,000 - 6,000 sq ft, but they range from 3,500 -12,000 sq ft ( Obviously this depends on what you're looking to do with it. If you want a short game practice area as well as a putting area, you're looking at twice the amount of area.

How long do outdoor putting greens last?

15 years is about the time you should reckon on and most manufacturers of kits or synthetic grass offer a 5 year guarantee. Obviously a natural grass green can remain good for decades, if well maintained, but that's quite a big "if". If the amount of effort you put into tending your green drops, you may have to dig up and reseed the whole thing which can considerably add to the overall cost of the project.

Does a backyard putting green increase home value?

The jury's out on this one...

A real estate agent friend of mine tells me that niche sporting installations like a synthetic turf green or an entire short game area divides opinion.

They're just as likely to reduce the perceived property value as increase it. In this case synthetic putting greens are worse than real grass greens, as there's less cost and physical labor involved in removing them.

So, in answering the question: "How much does a putting green cost?" you've got to factor the potential impact on your home's value, particularly if you're looking to move in the near future. 

Are outdoor putting greens worth it?

Since installing my outdoor putting area (and full shot net - see this post for details) - I've found that I've got quite a bit of use out of it and it's had a significant effect on how confident I feel standing on the first tee the next time I play if I've managed to do some putting and full shots the night before.

If you haven't touched a club for a week or two and you have a game then it's great to feel the ball coming off the putter and going into a cup - that's the major benefit of an outdoor green over a putting mat in your house.

It's also been surprising how much my kids (9 and 10 year old daughters) have wanted to use both the putting green and adjoining net. Friends who've been in the garden for drinks have also enjoyed a putt and a hit in the net.

Considering I installed it on a piece of ground that was basically unused on our property, and that the cost of site preparation and installation were relatively low, I feel it's been well worth it.

Do you need drainage under artificial grass?

Yes - but it's not a massively complex operation and DIY installation on a small green is very much possible (I did it without a high skill level as a gardener).

In order to achieve proper drainage and a smooth surface, you have to dig down and install:

  1. A layer of aggregate - crushed granite works best... this is what they use as road base foundation material
  2. A layer of sand
  3. A weed barrier membrane (available from Home Depot)

Compact each layer as you go with a whacker plate. You can hire one of these by the day - 24 hours was enough for me to do the necessary work on my 250sq ft (25sq m) space. You don't need large equipment unless you're trying to install a particularly large green.

Do artificial putting greens drain?

Yes. The artificial turf is water permeable, so rain drains right through it. If you've installed the foundation layers of aggregate (crushed granite), sand and weed membrane you should not have problems with drainage.

Full details of how to install are on this post. You'll also find out the answer to "how much does a putting green cost" in the real-life example of my home green and full-shot area.

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