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Building a home hitting net and simulator

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Golf and winter don’t get along very well, which is why so many golfers head indoors to practice facilities that offer year-round climate-controlled environments. The problem for many is these facilities can be busy and often require booking well in advance, which doesn’t work well for those seeking last-minute “driving range” flexibility.

So what is a diehard golfer to do? Build your own home hitting bay/simulator of course, and in my case build it on a budget to offer fun and flexibility all winter long.

Finding the right space

The first part of the process is accessing your wants and needs along with understanding any possible limitations your space might create. You have to consider which clubs you plan on using—and if that means hitting drivers, then you are going to need enough height and width to feel comfortable. The space I used is our garage, which is 12 feet wide and has 11-foot high ceilings, more than enough room to hit any club in the bag, and can easily accommodate both right and left-handed golfers.

Golf net and screen options

The Net Return hitting net

After figuring out your space, it comes down to selecting the best option for ease of use and flexibility—flexibility being the key ingredient in my situation. This is our only full garage bay, and if there is one thing I have gotten used to, it’s not having to clean snow off our car in the winter, so the net and mat had to be easily portable and storable.

If you are repurposing a space that won’t require flexibility, then there are a number of fantastic options including The Net Return and others that provide projector screen capability. On the highest-end, before getting into a full room renovation, Costco has a $20,000 “Sim in a box” powered by a Foresight GCQuad—let’s call this the dream scenario.

Since I have no intention of using a projector, nor do I have $20,000 just lying around, I ended up going with standard golf impact netting from Amazon: 10′ x 20′ golf impact netting, which allowed me to build my own net system which I can open or store within minutes.

The last thing to remember is you will be putting a lot of wear on a small part of the net caused by proximity, which is why if you plan to practice a lot it’s important to reinforce the impact area of the net. There is nothing more dangerous or damaging than a rubber projectile (in our case a golf ball) ricocheting around a small space at over 140 mph.

My solution was fine mesh netting from a local fabric store. It’s light enough not to put extra stress on the suspended cable supporting the net but strong enough to take a lot of abuse. The nice thing is at only $5 per yard and 60″, wide it’s very affordable and easily replaceable. An interesting thing to note, is a net doesn’t wear out specifically from just high-speed impact but from the friction of the spinning ball as it hits the net with shorter clubs, so the more layers the better.

The parts list

The list will vary depending on your situation and personal setup, but here are the tools & supplies I used when putting together my own net system.

Tools

  • Power drill and/or impact driver to drill pilot holes for the anchoring i-bolts. Since there will be a lot of tension on the supporting cable you have to be sure to put these anchors into wall studs.
  • Stud finder
  • Various size drill bits
  • Level
  • Tape measure
  • Screwdrivers
  • Pliers or vice grips

Supplies

There are a lot of ways to secure the net and create a welcoming space to use as a practice facility but these are all the supplies I used to install and support the net.

  • Stainless steel aircraft cable (2mm) rated for 900lbs.
  • Aircraft cable clamps
  • I-bolts to secure the cable to walls
  • Turnbuckle to properly tension the cable
  • Small hooks to hold the corners of the net up and around
  • Carabiners – Climbing rated ones are unnecessary, but they need to be sturdy
  • Carpet (for noise dampening and to prevent balls hitting the floor after falling from the net)

The Mat

Beyond the net itself, this is by far the most important piece of any home hitting bay or simulator because it needs to have enough give/compression in the impact area to not cause joint or muscle pain when hitting irons and wedge. This could require you to use extra padding under the mat or purchasing a separate hitting area depending on the base it is on.

Note: At the time of publication, I am currently waiting for the soft hitting area of my mat to arrive 

Getting fancy and simulated

This is the part where we go from home hobby setup to full-blown golf nut practice facility. The options beyond a basic net setup can get pretty crazy and for data and shot information it will require a substantial investment, with the most affordable being a SkyTrak unit followed by the all-new FlightScope Mevo+. After that, we get into more expensive options like the Foresight GC2 with HMT or the newest option the GCQuad followed by the radar-based Trackman.

All of these systems can work alongside various simulator software to provide playable course options, but they all come at an additional cost depending on the company and package.

For my personal use, I already happen to own a FlightScope Xi+ (which I purchased used), which requires a minimum of 16′ from unit to net to capture data, and since I don’t have any plans for playing rounds of golf, it is the perfect solution for getting the information I want in the space I have.

So whether you are looking for a full-blown golf simulator at home or just a space to help you keep those “golf muscles” loose over the cold winter months, use this GolfWRX how-to guide as a starting point for finding the best solution for you.

The How-to Video

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Ryan Barath is part of the Digital Content Creation Team for GolfWRX. He hosts the "On Spec" Podcast on the GolfWRX Radio Network which focuses on discussing everything golf, including gear, technology, fitting, and course architecture. He is a club-fitter & master club builder with more than 17 years of experience working with golfers of all skill levels, including PGA Tour players. He is the former Build Shop Manager & Social Media Coordinator for Modern Golf. He now works independently from his home shop and is a member of advisory panels to a select number of golf equipment manufacturers. You can find Ryan on Twitter and Instagram where he's always willing to chat golf, and share his passion for club building, course architecture and wedge grinding.

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Pingback: 2020: The year of the DIY golfer – GolfWRX

  2. Max R

    Oct 31, 2020 at 9:08 am

    Thanks for the information. It’s extremely timely for me and my neighbor. We were looking at the Rapsodo MLM Launch Monitor. I would love to have $20K+ to get the cream of the crop but as a senior, your option for keeping everything affordable is the best way to go. I agree that money needs to be spent on a high mid to high quality mat. Otherwise, you’re potentially damaging your clubs.

  3. Pelling

    Oct 30, 2020 at 4:38 pm

    Instead of spending mega bucks for a new mat, order a 5’x5’ Used commercial driving range mat (B grade) for about $150-$170, free delivery, off EBay from balldiver812. Excellent condition, like new. I ordered one for my son, prompt delivery, outstanding experience.

  4. Cris Kennedy

    Oct 30, 2020 at 9:59 am

    The problem with this setup is when you sky a driver/3 wood/hybrid. Don’t think it won’t happen.

  5. Grat702

    Oct 29, 2020 at 1:58 pm

    Thanks for this article, great stuff!

  6. Shallowface

    Oct 29, 2020 at 1:14 pm

    I’ve had a net for 20 years. When I finally blew a hole through it, I hung a sheet of canvas duck material in front of the hole. Like the other materials mentioned, it’s cheap, durable and readily available.

  7. Steve Hjortness

    Oct 29, 2020 at 11:42 am

    Ryan, thanks for the info. You mentioned your source for the netting and the launch monitor. Can you tell us what you purchased for the mats?

    • ChristianR

      Oct 30, 2020 at 3:07 am

      https://www.realfeelgolfmats.com/

      Someone can confirm they are really working as advertised?

      • Q

        Oct 30, 2020 at 10:33 am

        I’ve got a full GC2 simulator setup at home and chose the CCE reel feel mat. It’s expensive but is as exactly as advertised. You know exactly when you hit it fat, can get the sensation of taking a divot, and it holds a tee. Have had my setup since 2014 and have been through two hitting screens but the mat looks virtually new.

  8. Large chris

    Oct 29, 2020 at 9:32 am

    I’ve tried lots of different netting solutions. You won’t do any better than archery netting. It’s much quieter and more durable than anything else. Make sure to use a bungee type attachment solution to reduce the stress whatever net you use, Also, with sufficient unit to net flight space for a flight scope 11, you won’t have the net height to hit wedges or maybe even nine irons.
    Lots of things to consider, it’s not an easy thing to get right and reliable.

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Whats in the Bag

Jordan Spieth WITB 2021 (April)

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Jordan Spieth what’s in the bag accurate as of the Valero Texas Open.

Driver: Titleist TSi3 (10.5 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Blue 6 X

3-wood: Titleist TS2 (15 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Blue 7 X

Hybrid: Titleist 818 H2 (21 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD DI-95 X Hybrid

Irons: Titleist T100 (4-9)
Shafts: True Temper Project X 6.5

Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM8 (46-10F, 52-08F, 56-10S), Vokey Proto (60-T)
Shafts: True Temper Project X 6.0

 

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A post shared by Aaron Dill (@vokeywedgerep)


Putter: Scotty Cameron Circle T 009
Grip: SuperStroke Traxion Flatso 1.0

Grips: SuperStroke S-Tech

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x

 

 

 

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Equipment rewind: A deep dive into the Cleveland HiBore driver legacy

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I have always been fascinated by product development, specifically the development of unconventional products. Now in the world of golf clubs, one of the most unconventional designs ever introduced was the Cleveland HiBore driver, which during its lifespan, experienced tremendous success through a number of generations, including the HiBore XL, XLS, and finally, the Monster XLS, which, as you may remember, hid the acronym “MOI” on the sole, alluding to its massive level of forgiveness.

As a golfer, I played the original HiBore, along with the XL Tour for a period of time and was always curious about the story behind the “scooped out crown.” In a search for answers, I reached out to Cleveland-Srixon to get the lowdown on the HiBore and discuss where it sits in the pantheon of drivers.

Ryan Barath: Considering how engineers are continuing to do everything they can to increase MOI and push the center of gravity low and deep in driver heads, it feels like the original HiBore and the subsequent models were well ahead of their time from a design perspective. 

It makes logical sense the best way to save weight from the crown is to make the crown “disappear” compared to traditionally shaped drivers, am I correct in assuming that?

Cleveland design team: You nailed it.

At the time of the HiBore, there were really only two solutions to create a low and deep center of gravity:

    1. Make the crown lighter – by either replacing the crown with a lighter-weight material such as a graphite composite or magnesium or by thinning out the material on the crown. Thinner crowns were possible thanks to advances in casting technology and using etching techniques to remove material.
    2. Make the driver shallower – this change in geometry created a very forgiving low profile design, but the downside to this was that you ended up with a very small face that looked intimidating compared to the larger-faced drivers on the market.

The HiBore took a new approach and inverted the crown geometry so that all the crown weight was moved lower. By inverting the crown the HiBore design allowed for a very long and flat sole, therefore there was space in the head that was really low and deep to put the weight.

The HiBore was really the first driver to eliminate, or nearly eliminate the tapered skirt. Almost every modern driver in the market is inspired by the HiBore in that respect. It was a two-part solution where we lowered the weight of the crown and simultaneously created a low/deep location to put any extra mass.

The lower and deeper CG of the HiBore improved launch conditions significantly, but also made the driver much more consistent across the entire face. The deep CG increased MOI resulting in tighter dispersion since the sweet spot was in the center of the face. Misses both low and high performed exceptionally as opposed to having a small hot spot high on the face.

RB: In every conversation I have ever had with engineers, there is always this give-and-take mentality from a design perspective to get to the final iteration. Was there anything that was given up or sacrificed for overall performance with this design?

Cleveland design team: The hardest part about the HiBore design was the sound. Prior to the HiBore, internal ribbing in a hollow golf club head was nearly unheard of. To make the HiBore sound acceptable, we had to design a ribbing structure to control the sound and design an entirely new manufacturing process to produce those internal ribs. To this day, most drivers include some form of internal ribbing to control sound or improve ball speed and that ribbing technology can be traced back to the HiBore.

In terms of tradeoffs, the major one was the low spin nature of the driver made it more difficult for low spin players to use. If a golfer is already low spin, this club would be too low and drives would just fall out of the air. Low spin golfers tend to be low spin because they hit the ball high on the face. Since we lowered the sweet spot, a high face impact was further from the sweet spot so ball speed fell as compared to a higher CG driver. Fortunately for us, in that era most golfers were fighting too much spin or way too much spin, this wasn’t a real issue.

RB: Do you have any final words on the HiBore drivers and the legacy they have left behind?

Cleveland design team: We are very proud of the HiBore driver family and the success it had at the time, but we are also proud of its legacy.

In the same way that you can trace nearly every modern band back to the Beatles or Led Zeppelin, you can trace nearly every modern driver back to HiBore either through the internal structure that is prolific across modern drivers, or the long, flat sole that is a must-have in a high-performance driver.

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Equipment

Coolest thing for sale in the GolfWRX Classifieds (04/03/21): Tiger Woods spec’d irons

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At GolfWRX, we love golf, plain and simple.

We are a community of like-minded individuals who all experience and express our enjoyment of the game in many ways. It’s that sense of community that drives day-to-day interactions in the forums on topics that range from best driver to what marker you use to mark your ball. It even allows us to share another thing, including equipment or, in this case, a sweet set of irons!

Currently, in our GolfWRX buy/sell/trade (BST) forum, there is a listing for Tiger Woods spec’d TaylorMade P7TW irons, or as they are also known: the GOAT irons.

To check out the full listing in our BST forum, head through the link: TaylorMade P7TW **TIGER SPECS* 3-PW

This is the most impressive current listing from the GolfWRX BST, and if you are curious about the rules to participate in the BST Forum you can check them out here: GolfWRX BST Rules.

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