Stuka44: BirdieBall Outdoor Putting Green
Well everyone welcome to my first review since joining MGS. I'm excited to have been picked to test this product.
I'm 55 years old and have lived and play 99% of my golf in northeast Ohio. I play $30-$50 a round public courses as a general rule and have never belonged to a club. I have been golfing regularly since about 2008, but learned the game when I was 16 or so. I have never had a golf lesson, or club fitting of any kind. I am an avid golfer at this point, and golf mostly to spend time with two of my older brothers, who have recently picked the game up again after long layoffs. I play all year long here even January and February as long as there is no snow on the ground.
I am currently around a 14 handicap, and I am a very easy swinger of the golf club. In my younger years I always found myself using a less lofted club by one or two compared to those of similar age I was playing with. I don't mention that as a negative!, I have always been alright with this, "just let the club do the work" was and still is, and will continue to be my motto. My current putter is a Ping Scottsdale "Wolverine", and I wasn't fit. I just like the way it felt, and had never been successful with shoe, and blade type putters so I tried the mallet.
My first impressions were good. The matt was bigger than I expected it to be, its 3'4" x 12 feet long, however finding a level enough spot outside wasn't to be so I set it up in my basement. It seems to be constructed well enough to certainly go outside.
The speed of it is quite good, and seems like it will translate well to the green speeds I play, (We'll see I guess that is part of the point of this). There is another single cup at the opposite end from the three. To the center cup you can comfortably practice 2-10 footers(painters tape along the edge), and add 6 inches to the side cups. The matt/cup is about 1/2" deep.
I'm going to be concentrating on what I read in Broadie's book "Every Shot Counts". Trying to concentrate on making a higher percentage of putts in the 3-10 foot range, more specifically 4,5,6, and 7 footers. I've never really been a practice guy, and rarely get to the course in time to practice putts or take a practice swing. Here are some of my putting numbers, based on 130 some rounds I have loaded into Free Golf Tracker(since 2008, some years I didn't enter many), which I hope to improve!!
My average putts/GIR is 2.2, and my average putts/PER HOLE is 1.9, and my current average putts per 18 is 33, and I average 2.9 3 putts per 18 holes. I'm hoping the BirdieBall Putting Green will improve my make percentage at 10 feet and under, and help reduce 3 putts overall at all distances. Only time, and PRACTICE, will tell!!!!
This last chart directly above represents the last 18 rounds I've played. For the last 18 rounds (not knowing anything about the BirdieBall Putting Matt test/ review) I began to pace off my First Putt Distance. And the Free Golf Tracker keeps track of 1, 2, and 3 putts for the distance you put in. What I would hope to see as I practice rolling putts on the BirdieBall is 1 Putt make percentage especially in the 3-10 foot range go up(Hopefully Substantially). STAY TUNED!
BirdieBall Outdoor Putting Green..Official MGS Forum Review by Stuka44(Don)
I was able to get in about 3-4 practice sessions a week, consisting of about 40 putts each session. Two each from 2-10 feet, and then another 6 each from 4, 5, 6, and 7 feet. I was able to get in 5 additional rounds of statistics for my putting since the Introductory post about the product. I did have improvement.
Quality of Components (8/10)
The BirdieBall mat (3'4" x 12') was packaged quite nicely and is not really too heavy. This being said I am not to sure I would want to have to move it a long way to put it away after each use, its kind of awkward, and I'm not sure how rolling it up and putting it back down would affect its flatness for use.
I noticed two very minor problems that I am classifying as "quality". The first was mentioned in previous comments and by another tester. One of my cups seems to have a little crown which causes a little break to the right. A little annoying but I just know to aim center to compensate on that one. The other issue is that the flags, and their bases which go into the 1'2" deep cups are very light. Let me make it clear that when putting to the cups with the flags in them, THEY NEVER FELL OVER, EVEN ON PRETTY FIRM PUTTS. My issue (and its mostly laziness on my part) is in retrieving the balls. Clearly they were designed to be lifted and the balls dumped like on a real practice green. I found that in doing this that the bases and flag would separate quite often, I glued mine finally. Then I tried just tapping the ball out of the cup with my putter. This is where the slightest bump of the flag and it would topple over. A little heavier base for the flagsticks would be nice.
Ease of Use (9/10)
The mat was very easy to use and its purpose was clear. The only problem I had here was that in order to get the maximum distance for a practice putt, I found that I needed to remove the bumpers on the end I was putting from eventually. For me if I tried to place a ball within a foot of the top edge pictured below, that my backswing would contact the rear bumper. I also like to make a few putts from as close to the edge as I could get( and putt across the green so to speak) from as far away as I could get, so I removed the side bumpers as well on the end I was putting from.
Basic Characteristics (17/20)
I have never had any sort of actual home golf practice item. I've always only ever practiced on my various carpet weaves for putting practice. The BirdieBall putting mat most definitely encouraged me to practice. The fact that it was quite quick, and looks like an actual putting green seemed to encourage me that what I did on it, would actually apply on a real course. That feeling in hindsight was clearly lacking when in winter mostly I would try practicing on my carpet. Quickly I would feel that putting on the carpet wasn't going to do me any good. The quickness of the first few putts, and smooth roll very quickly got me thinking this would help my putting. The variety of this version of BirdieBall mat was good. Its length provided the ability to practice about 10.5 foot putts at a maximum, and clearly shorter putts. Again having read some books and other material, prior to getting this mat, I had determined that I needed to practice putts mostly in the 8 foot and less range, as a means to improving my scores a little more. So the opportunity to review this mat fit right in with what I was planning to do. I did notice some improvement quickly. I noticed after making 120 or so practice putts that my stroke seemed much more consistent, and mentally making putts but trying to get them past the hole without striking the bumper behind the holes was great for distance control. Something I hadn't ever really paid attention to in practicing intermittently before a round. The tight weave and quick speed of the mat was very good, after having used it for a while the width of it was a little restricting for me.
On Course Performance (27/30)
At almost every distance of putts, my one putt make percentage improved after the limited duration of practice I was able to get in, and the numbers as indicated earlier are just 5 additional rounds to the total. I would expect that with continued practice and adding of rounds that the numbers would continue to improve.
The top chart was the original 18 rounds, and the bottom is newest with the five additional rounds added to the totals. One putt make percentage went up at 6,7, and 8 feet. I was surprised at 4 and 5 feet. 4 feet was only 1 additional putt that I missed since the one putt percentage went down, and 5 feet was 7 additional putts, and the 1 putt percentage went down there. I would note and this is not an excuse, but it is kind of ironic. The last round I played I had to use my brothers putter(and it is not identical to mine) because my putter was leaning in the basement next to the putting matt. I also noticed that at almost every distance beyond 8 feet the 3 putt percentage for almost every distance is going down.
I expect that continued practice will improve 1 putt make percentage. But what I noticed most importantly though is that on these critical distances 10 feet and less is that all of the practice strokes I have made on the mat(which is pretty quick) has improved my stroke and distance control to a point where I'm not really concerned with making a horrible stroke and leaving an 8 footer 4 feet short, or blowing a 6 footer 5 feet past the hole. The practice on the BirdieBall mat has really helped me mentally to be confident in my stroke, also on 10-20 footers, and while not really expecting to make them based on make percentages, I'm putting them to try and make them without really being concerned about making a horrible putt. I guess I'm trying to say I am putting to make them confident in a two putt, and not putting this distance of putt exclusively not to 3 putt, if that makes any sense!
Final Performance Comments:
A minor issue with it is that I really don't see the need for the cup on the opposite end from the 3. Although I have the grass insert in this cup hole, it just impedes my ability to putt from as long as possible to the center hole on the other end. and in regards the the 3 cup end I would like to see at least one of them be very close to the rear edge to maximize the distance of the mat.
The only thing I think I would like better would be to have the green be wider, so when putting from the edge you could be standing on the mat, and wider would provide a little opportunity to put "across" the grain so to speak. From the right edge to the left cup, and vice versa.
Keep it or Trade It (20/20)
I would definitely keep it. As a largely non-practice golfer the putting green is very good. It represents a quick putting surface, which in the big scheme of things I have practiced on for only a very short time has improved my performance and attitude over my putts. It seems very durable so if it holds up as promoted, and lasts a long time then I believe it would be worth the cost. This is for every golfer. I only wish I had put some effort into practicing my putting earlier in my golf career, especially realizing how just a little practice has helped me. Repetition of my putting stroke on the BirdieBall green has transferred directly to the course and has me on the way to continued improvement.
The BirdieBall Outdoor putting green seems to be very well made. The durability obviously can only be judged over a much longer period of time than available. The practice you can do on it, given its speed, does help you on actual putts on the course, and I believe will without question help you putt better. This last point is a tough one which I want to address in this conclusion if this is all you read of my review. Cost! This 3'4" x 12' version is listed at $455. If you are someone who loves to "practice" the game of golf, like my brother, who stops at the driving range 3-4 times a week, then I think this would be well worth it. Just being honest if you are someone like me who plays but doesn't love to practice really, I'm not sure I would spend that much on it, without seeking out some comparison prices for similar products. This is not a bash of the product it is top notch, but $455 is a lot of money.
FINAL SCORE (90/100)
Driver: VR Pro
Irons: Mavrik 4-GW
Wedges: CG-14 56 & RTX 52
Putter: Scottsdale Wolverine
Woods: Gigagolf 3W, 2H, 3H
Ball: E12 Soft Yellow