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WESTCHESTER HEALTH & LIFE: "HOME GAME" Perfect your putt with a green in your own back

THERE’S NO SURER WAY TO PUT MORE muscle behind your swing, to develop and perfect your putt than with a green in your own backyard. Think about it: No club dues are required, you can hit the play space 24/7 and the dress code allows PJs. If you’d like to try for your own “home field advantage,” here are some questions to ask: CAN YOUR YARD HANDLE IT? Town requirements are one of the biggest obstacles. Be sure to go to the town surveyor to find out about permits (and fees) and engineering needs if any. Luckily, Michael Lehrer, owner of Home Green Advantage, an Armonk-based firm, hasn’t had a problem in any town in the tri-state area with the golf greens he has built. WHAT’S THE GRADE? Of your yard, that is. The slope will dictate if you need retaining walls and site work. “If the topography needs correcting, it will take materials to correct,” says Michael Lehrer who has a lot of experience having installed more than 600 putting greens since 1995. IS IT EASY TO ACCESS? Ideally, your contractor will transport materials to the site on a skid loader. But if a gate, fence, landscaping or neighboring property makes it impossible, that means getting the materials into your backyard by hand [wheelbarrow]. This contributes to additional time and labor spent on the project. In some cases, landscaping has to be removed and replanted. WHERE WILL YOUR PLAY SPACE GO? Typically, you’ll want to put your green in a corner so it doesn’t obstruct the view of the rest of your yard. Adds Lehrer, “With a putting green, be aware of what can go wrong when hitting shots.” Translation: You don’t want to break any windows of your own or your neighbors! He recommends a sunny spot where the wind blows to avoid any water buildup and consequent mold. WHAT’S THE GROUND LIKE? Wetlands are not viable for putting greens, says Lehrer, while “sandy loam has to be compacted. And any grass or deep roots have to be removed entirely because if it’s left beneath the surface it will decompose.” WHO WILL BUILD IT? You should make sure your hire a company that not only does this type of work for a living, but has done many installations – successful projects that you can visit firsthand. “Get someone who’s done it 500 times!” adds Lehrer. The pro you pick must have lots of experience, be willing to show you his work and be happy to provide references. The consensus is that top-of-the-line products [materials] will yield the best results. ARE YOU UP FOR THE UPKEEP? The good news is that if you opt for state-of-the-art materials, your green will likely be low-maintenance. Removing leaves and other debris, an annual power-washing and perhaps a professional TLC session once a year from the installation company will keep your green looking like new – and you at the top of your game!

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