Home field advantage

Imagine, 2-under par at the 18th hole at Pebble Beach with nothing but a 10-yard putt to win the Masters. Or, all you need is one more perfectly placed, 3-point shot, and you’re a basketball god.

Imagining is as far as most of us will get, but whether you or anyone in your family are ready for the PGA or NBA, playing in the privacy and safety of your home is almost as good.

Whether you want to recreate your favorite or most challenging hole or install a regulation full basketball court with a slightly shorter than regulation hoop — for the kids, of course — your imagination is the only limit.

And as golf becomes more popular, tee times are valuable and increasingly difficult to get. Driving ranges are one way to practice, but beyond miniature golf or that Sharper Image electronic ball return putting green in your office, the short game is often neglected.

“Fifty-seven percent of golf is the short game,” says Terry Elkin, president and founder of Putter’s Edge, a commercial and residential custom green company. “A 300-yard drive is nice, but if you can’t make a three-foot putt, what good is it?”

One option is to have a custom-built putting green installed in your backyard. With new technology, homeowners can get greens of any size or speed, along with a variety of sand traps and directional breaks.

Once considered a businessman’s game, golf is becoming multigendered and multigenerational, making a home putting green more of a home investment instead of a purely personal one, says Elkin.

Versatility is another selling point. Elkin boasts that he has installed greens for every budget and imagination, with greens as small as 12 inches by 15 inches and as large as 4,500 square feet.

“We’ve done a number of signature holes,” he says. “We can emulate any type or shape … you can have holes that break to the right and to the left on one green.”

If practicing your short game without the hassle of getting a tee time is not enough incentive, there is also the unintentional benefit of a backyard green, or in Elkin’s case, a front yard green — less lawn care and general aesthetics.

“We installed a red green,” he says. “It turns out this client’s favorite color was red, so we did it.”

If golf’s not your game, just pick another — full- or half-court basketball, tennis, street hockey, even four-square for the kids.

Better, it is now possible to install a professional-quality custom court in as little as two weeks.

“It’s great for tiny yards, where nothing grows anyway,” says Bob Yanega, president and owner of Sport Court. “You don’t have to mow it or water it … all you need is a leaf blower or sometimes to hose it off.”

Because each court surface is customized, there is the ability to combine sports.

“I see more of a trend in multipurpose game courts,” says Yanega.

The court surface is made of a UV stable co-polymer that doesn’t break down with sunlight or crack and peel with changing temperatures, and that gives more cushion than traditional court surfaces.

“For those of us who are a little past our prime, it reduces the chance of some serious injuries … the material has more lateral forgiveness,” he says.

If your own personal basketball or tennis court seems extravagant, Yanega stresses that in most cases, a custom court is less expensive than an in-ground pool and requires a lot less upkeep. Sport Court can also resurface tennis and basketball courts that are past their prime.

“I think there is a segment of people out there that don’t just want to run on a treadmill. For them, it’s boring and restrictive.

“They like the competitiveness of playing a game with their friends,” says Yanega. “And maybe let out a little aggression.” How to reach: Putter’s Edge (800) 875-3151 or www.putters-edge.com; Sport Court, (440) 498-6000 or www.sportcourt.com