A Putt Above

The sin­gu­lar plea­sure of rooftop prac­tice greens

Golf Digest (Malaysia) - - Play Your Best - Photographs by Wal­ter Iooss Jr.

When David Brooks be­gan hunt­ing for ways to squeeze in more golf prac­tice time, he looked up—to the roof deck on his Up­per West Side apart­ment. It al­ready had a hot tub and 360-de­gree views of Man­hat­tan. What he added: one of the finest rooftop putting greens in all of New York City (pic­tured on the pre­vi­ous pages).

De­signed and built by Michael Lehrer of Home Green Ad­van­tage, Brooks’ putting sur­face isn’t a glo­ri­fied mini-golf course. “For me it was most im­por­tant to groove my stroke for lag putting be­cause I strug­gle on faster greens,” says Brooks, a 13-hand­i­cap­per. Of­fer­ing a va­ri­ety of break­ing putts over 15 feet and clock­ing in at 11 on the Stimp­me­ter, it has al­ready helped him on ac­tual greens.

How of­ten does he get up there? “Not enough,” says Brooks, gen­eral coun­sel for one of New York’s pre­mier in­vest­ment firms, “but now that the weather is nice, prob­a­bly four to five times a week.” With three holes, two cuts of rough, a chip­ping “is­land” and a ridge Brooks helped to de­sign, we can’t blame him for want­ing to spend more time up there.

There’s no of­fi­cial stat for rooftop greens in New York City, but Demetro Car­bone of South­west Greens of Metro New York puts the over­all num­ber at about 500, with de­mand on the rise. Five years ago his com­pany in­stalled three to five a year, he says. Now it’s more like 12 to 15. Home Green Ad­van­tage fig­ures it has built about 20, typ­i­cally charg­ing $15,000 to $20,000 for a three-hole rooftop setup.

Just a few miles south of Brooks, in the Green­wich Vil­lage neigh­bor­hood, a prom­i­nent real-es­tate de­vel­oper in­vited Golf Di­gest to pho­to­graph his putting par­adise (above), also de­signed and built by HGA.

Though the owner asked that we not use his name, he’s clearly proud of his rooftop putting green. Abut­ting a pri­vate gar­den, kitchen and hot tub and fea­tur­ing stun­ning views of the Em­pire State Build­ing, it’s a respite from city life and a se­ri­ous train­ing aid. “I be­long to Deep­dale Golf Club, Friar’s Head, and At­lantic Golf Club,” the owner says, “so I wanted the speed of the green to be fast to repli­cate the con­di­tions at those cour­ses.”

He adds, “It has turned into more than just a putting green. It’s be­come a play area for my son . . . which is se­cretly how I planned to get him in­ter­ested in golf all along.”

These putting sur­faces are con­sid­ered land­scap­ing, so spe­cial per­mits to in­stall them aren’t usu­ally re­quired. But you do have to con­sider New York drainage reg­u­la­tions, and some­times they re­quire safety net­ting. The last thing you want is a stray putt bound­ing 20 floors down onto pedes­tri­ans.

Once the green is built, the chal­lenge be­comes pro­tect­ing it against New York City’s patented grime. Lehrer sug­gests reg­u­larly us­ing a blower or even a vac­uum to re­move de­bris and then hav­ing the in­staller come back for a thor­ough brush­ing and clean­ing every other year.

“But the turf is weath­er­proof,” he adds, “so the greens def­i­nitely don’t have to be cov­ered in the win­ter.”

edited by pe­ter finch

Lower Man­hat­tan.

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