Greetings to all. I would first like to say how grateful I am to MGS and Spornia for the opportunity to test this product as well as the forum community in general. I’m still pretty new around here and it’s very likely that you don’t know anything about me. My name is Rich, and I moved to California two years ago. I am originally from north Texas, went to Colorado for college, moved to Houston to take a swing at a Ph.D program that didn’t work. Eventually moved to Florida when my wife received a job opportunity out there, and then I moved us all the way to California when a job opportunity for me came up. This will be my first test so be gentle! These two take up the majority of my time outside of work.
As a random note, I’m a natural lefty, but I golf as if I am right-handed. I was a switch hitter in baseball and played tennis left-handed so for whatever reason the right-handed golf swing is more natural to me. I am a chemical engineer by day working as a process engineer for a company that manufactures citrus processing equipment. I work with a small group within the company in Technical Research and Development, so I apologize in advance for being a data and numbers guy.
I picked up golf in college because I took a part time job at the nearby Golfsmith, mainly to work in their tennis area as I was into tennis at that point. So much that I obtained Certified Stringer certification when I was 15 and later Master Racquet Technician around the age of 20. Being surrounded by all of the golf equipment and regularly fielding questions about golf, it piqued my interest in the game. I won’t lie, the added benefit of being able to make a little extra money based on Golfsmith’s commission scale was enticing for a college student. I worked there for about two and half years before graduating, doing a little bit of everything including fitting and a lot of club building.
Two of my managers were former teaching pros so I had access to quality advice for my quirky swing. I typically played once or twice a week for about 18 months before I moved away from Colorado. Since then, I have played much less frequently as I have some anxiety issues with heading to the course by myself. Until about 4 months ago, my clubs were hiding in the garage, completely unused for the past four years since my youngest was born. I’ve never held a true handicap, but I was typically shooting right around 90 back when I was playing consistently. In a typical round, I would have a few catastrophic holes and play fairly solid the rest of the time. I’m still working on getting my swing back to where I would like it, but currently I’m topping out around 100 MPH. I could always use a little more swing speed, and that is something I’m currently working on, but I have also started working with a new coach to straighten up my swing.
Due to family and work obligations, I’m lucky to get out to the range once a week, which is why I purchased a Callaway net and a Rapsodo MLM a few months ago to make it less inconvenient on everyone for me to practice. The Rapsodo is now gone because it was not a good fit for my use, and the net is already showing some signs of wear as well as being inconvenient from a portability standpoint. While it is technically portable, I don’t think anyone enjoys spending the time breaking one of those basic nets down into the 20 connector pieces and detaching the netting and packing it to move it, etc. I don’t want to, so I move it back and forth from the concrete patio out to the grass area in the back yard each time. I don't believe that I should be seeing this kind of damage from a 7-iron at a month of use.
I’m excited for the Spornia net as it looks to be much more portable and also much more convenient for indoor use. With my kids' stuff taking up so much space, I don’t have a ton of indoor space, but I have room in the garage to be able to use it for some feel type practice. The ceiling in my garage is too low for full swings at my height, but I could use the shorter wedge practice anyway. For this test, the main things I’m looking at are the convenience, portability, and durability. I want to be able to set it up and take it down each time without spending a lot of time, and I want to be able to move it from outside to inside and back again without significant hassle. I know for myself, if practice isn’t convenient, it’s hard to find time amongst the other obligations of the day.
With all of that out of the way, please feel free to ask any questions that may help to direct my testing for specific applications that may be helpful to you. What’s useful to me, may not be important to you and my overall hope is to provide information that can help the majority.
First impression of the packaging of the product promised a compact form with no wasted materials. There is no need for excessive cardboard or extra packaging and the item arrived without any damage despite FedEx losing it for a few days. At first glance of the small form factor, it’s difficult to believe this opens up as large as it does. Instructions for setting it up are very simple and quick, though one section is a bit tedious. Compared against the basic Callaway net I had been using, having a full impact screen section was a huge upgrade. For a size comparison in a garage type area, the net and hitting mat would take up about the same amount of space as a typical vehicle. Personally, I was only able to hit half-swing wedges indoors, but that is due to the low ceiling, not an issue with the net itself.
Quality of components (8 out of 10 points)
The quality of the net, frame, and impact screen are all top notch. I deducted points for some of the extra things. For example, the carry bag is functional, but fairly thin and I fear for the longevity of the stitching on the Velcro closure straps. Another point was deducted for a small tear in the channel that holds the thin rod holding up the “roof” portion. While I love the concept of the top portion to catch especially high wedge shots or perhaps a skied driver, feeding the rod through the channel was by far the most frustrating thing about this product. As my net was outdoors the majority of the time, I got to the point of leaving the roof rod in and folding the net flat before leaning up against the house. While it definitely defeats the portability aspect of the net, it saved me minutes of frustration and I was able to have the net set up in about 25 seconds.
The folding mechanism for the net is a little hard to describe, and not necessarily the most intuitive, but it is highly effective. I think the best feature for portability is that the majority of the net is one connected piece. It is the entire frame, netting, and impact screen as one piece, and then three multi-section rods that fit in a separate bag before adding to the main bag. The carrying bag is a little awkward to travel with because it is flat, but fairly large. I felt like it took up a lot less space when I had it standing, propped up against something rather than laying flat. By comparison to the basic Callaway net, that folds up into a small cylinder shaped bag, but it also includes about 13 individual sections that have to be taken apart and reassembled each time, versus opening the bag and letting the Spornia net practically unfold itself waiting for the two main rods to raise the back section. Definitely points for Spornia on that one.
Ease of use (9 out of 10 points)
At the end of the day, this is a practice net. It is pretty obvious how to use it, and also obvious how to set it up. The one point deducted for ease of use is purely due to the roof section. The support rod for the roof section is a connected 5 piece rod that you feed through a curved channel before putting the ends into eyelets to hold the roof. I had a few issues with getting the rod both in and out of the channel without the sections separating inside. The sections are all connected via string, but it is difficult to move the rod inside the channel in one smooth motion. In complete honesty, if I were to frequently move the net, I probably wouldn’t even bother with setting up the roof section unless I was specifically planning to hit my high lofted wedges.
Basic Characteristics (19 out of 20 points)
Compared to my experiences with other practice nets, the Spornia net made the idea of practicing much more enticing. Not having to spend 10 minutes setting everything up, constantly retrieving balls, having balls randomly sneak through the gaps around the edges. These little things matter when it comes to getting in that little bit of practice. Keeping the net partially assembled and set against the house. I can have the net and mat set up in less time than it takes me decide what club to practice with first. That kind of convenience cannot be beat. By comparison, the closest driving range options are about a 15 minute drive, $12 a bucket, and generally pretty busy, especially at times when I could go. With the daylight disappearing so early right now, this is the best way for me to get a little bit of practice in each day rather than maybe one session a week at the range.
Spornia did include a chipping target that could be set up for those types of shots. I only tried it out a few times and it worked fine for what it is. I don’t see myself using the chipping target all that much personally as chipping off a mat just doesn’t do it for me.
Since I have somewhat of a quirky, timing-based swing, having the ability to consistently practice has helped my consistency quite a bit. I also started working with a coach and the net eliminates another excuse that is so easy to make when it comes to practice. As far as practice nets go, this one is by far the nicest one that I have used and any flaws are truly being nit-picky. Things like the fact that while the ball does get returned to the front of the net, the mesh “lip” is a decent amount overlapping, so I have to kind of reach back into the gap and dig the ball out versus if it was a straighter mesh lip. I believe the size is in a good spot with being big enough that it makes it very hard to miss the net, without being something that is going to permanently take up a small building worth of space. As am I currently renting, I don’t want to leave the net on the grass 100% of the time and risk the lawn, but I can easily take out two poles and set it against the house. Less than a minute of time and it is off of the yard and out of the way of everyone else.
On-Course Performance (27 out of 30 points)
Up until recently, I had not played an actual round of golf in about 5 years due to family and work obligations, so it’s impossible for me to definitively prove that this net and the resulting practice improved my scores. I can say that my ball striking consistency has improved from before I had received the net, and I believe that is largely due to the convenience of regular practice. Of course, there will always be the concerns with regards to the lack of feedback when hitting into a net compared to seeing the full ball flight, but in my case, I was using it to try to ingrain the feelings that my coach has been working on. I wasn’t worried about the ball flight as I needed to fix my swing before I worry about where it’s going. Having said that, combining the net with a launch monitor does appear to give some decent data collection possibility. I only used a basic radar launch monitor, but it picked up the large majority of shots, giving reasonable results. Without comparing against other technology or full ball flight, I can really only judge against consistency and believability. With that said, the combination worked well for me. I was able to hit every club through my bag against the Spornia net and get realistic gapping numbers that at least made sense. On course testing would refine those numbers, but it did give me a realistic basis to start from. With that said, there is not much more I could ask for from the Spornia net from a performance base. It does exactly what you expect it to do and it does it well with a number of nice quality touches that make it enjoyable to use.
If I were to change anything about the net, it would definitely be the roof section. Something in the design, while effective, is a bit of an annoyance. In my testing, some of the issues could be solved by creating a way to “lock” the pieces of the roof support rod together so that it could be inserted through the channel without the rod pieces separating inside the channel. That slows down setup and take down. A thicker material for the channel itself that is not so prone to tearing would also be an improvement, but there is very little to complain about with this product.
Miscellaneous (9 out of 10 points)
There is definitely an attention to the important details when the Spornia net was designed. The addition of the roof to protect from errand high shots, the side netting to catch a few wild shots. Even the packaging is as minimal and effective as possible with no wasted space. If there is one complaint with the little things, it would be the communication from Spornia. All of the testers were basically left in the dark regarding the shipping status until alerts from Fedex started coming in that packages were on the way. I believe there was a supply issue around the intended delivery time that held up the product from being sent out to the testers, but the communication regarding any delays or updates on expected delivery could have been improved.
Keep it or Trade it? (20 out of 20 points)
I am going to be keeping the Spornia net as it does exactly what I expect it to without taking up a large section of real estate in the yard. It helps make practice significantly more convenient for me, as regular practice, even in small amounts, is better for my overall game than one long practice session each week. I feel that the asking price is fair for the quality. It does appear that Spornia has recently increased the price as it is now listed in the $260-300 range. That does place it near the top end of the range that I would be willing to pay. The net itself is very high quality and I like many of the features, including the ability to replace wear pieces like the impact screen (around $40), but the law of diminishing returns comes into effect at a certain price point for me. There are many other quality products to compete with this one. I definitely see myself getting a lot of future use for many years with this product as I continue to work on my game.
For a short version of my ramblings, the Spornia practice net can best be described as a very high quality practice net that is quick to set up, works well to both deaden the impact and return balls, and is portable enough that it can be stored away easily between sessions, reducing the necessary footprint. It is not without quirks and a few questionable design choices that increase frustration a bit with setup and breakdown, especially regarding the “roof” section. Depending on your personal application and use habits, these can be almost entirely ignored. While it is portable, I will not be planning to travel with it, and the ceiling height in my garage prevents it from achieving maximum use indoors. As a result of this, it will be used exclusively outdoors, so the portability only matters in that I can fold it up and store it out of the way.
Final Score: (92 out of 100 points)
Driver: Srixon Z565, Miyazaki Kaula Mizu
3 Wood: Snake Eyes Viper Tour, Aldila NV
Hybrids: Snake Eyes Viper Tour 18 and 24 deg, Aldila NV
Irons: Srixon I-701 5-PW, Nippon Modus3 Tour 120
Wedges: Callaway X-Forged 50, 54, and 58, Nippon Modus3 Wedge 115
Putter: Yes! Marilyn