Introduction: Convert Swimming Pool to Putting Green

About: Retired, doing art work now. Great. Have the time and the money to spend doing what I want to do.

A few years ago. it was decided to remove our swimming pool. At about 40 years of age, it was non-repairable without hugh costs, and since we weren't using it much it had to go. This instructable shows the process of removing, refilling, and re-landscaping the area of the pool to be both functional and attractive as well. I decided to turn the filled in dirt area into a putting green. I didn't need or want more garden area and the constant upkeep that would require. I checked around and the best estimate I got to install the artificial turf or synthetic grass and make the putting green was $2500, minimum. So I proceeded to do the finish work myself, and I believe I spent somewhere around $600 to $700, total. It was more labor intensive than anything but doing it in increments, it was doable.

I figured my savings from maintaining and running the pool was about $2000 per year, not to mention the ecological impact.


Demolition and filling the pool was contracted out, of course and I just had to take it from there and design, layout, and execute my plans for the putting green. Supplies needed for those function follows in this instructable. I had an artificial turf retailer who specialized in materials for putting greens, exclusively, very close to home and found the synthetic turf, cups, flags (if wanted), nails and various miscellaneous items there. Go online and look for these types of suppliers in your area.

Step 1: Tools Not Mentioned Elsewhere

To do this, you need many tools, tools that most home owners will have: shovels, rakes, hoes, scissors, hammers, levels, drill, and so on. I think the only tool I needed to buy was a $30 soil compactor. A serrated kitchen knife was very useful in cutting the holes for the cups, and later on, the holes for the landscape elements.

Step 2: Remove Pool

Good bye pool! After 40 years it was time...saves a lot of money for maintenance, water, and electrical costs for the pump. This was done by the professional contractor.

Step 3: On Top of Contractors Fill

Just after the pool had been filled in, I needed to control the dirt so that it wouldn't be blown about and/or tracked constantly into the house. I came up with the idea of utilizing used carpeting...I went to a recyclyer and they let me have as much as I wanted for free. Saved them the cost of moving it I suppose. So this carpeting was laid down, and I came up with the idea then to use it as a golf ball putting area. When it came time to finalize my plans with a more formal look, the carpeting was left in place, fill dirt and decomposed granite was place ON TOP of this carpeting. It would act as the weed barrier and would save me the labor of disposing of it. I made a sidewalk through the middle of the pool area as shown. Using the walkmaker form, this was easy to do, and was great exercise! A sidewalk was added to the right edge of the old pool area; this completed the concrete work.

Step 4: Design the Final Plan/Layout

I wanted a 15 foot putting green to fill the space at one end of the pool area. Professional putting green synthetic turf was purchased, and a free form green was cut out with scissors. Very easy to do. Since everyone's area will be different, I didn't provide any "blueprints" or schematic drawings. Of course, the putting green can be put in a side yard, any backyard, or even your front yard.

Step 5: Prepare Base

The contractor filled in the pool of course; a fine, clean fill dirt was used. This dirt was compacted very well, and was left quite level. I only had to do a little raking and moving soil around to make it as level as needed. As mentioned, used carpeting was placed over the contractor fill dirt. On top of the weed barrier carpeting, about 2 inches of "road base" was laid down and compacted. On top of this was the final coating of decomposed granite which was spread, leveled and then compacted with the hand tamper. I could have rented a plate compactor for the job but felt it wasn't really necessary. In the pictures, you can see these steps and the beginning of outlining the area for the putting green itself.

Step 6: Preparing Perimeter of Putting Green

On top of the decomposed granite base, the outdoor carpeting is laid. I wanted to have a barrier installed so that the balls would not forever be going over the edge of the carpeting so I used a regular garden edging material as shown. I cut it in half longitudinally so that it was about 2 and one half inches wide. I staked it to the ground as shown using grade stakes and screws through the edging into the stakes. (After I decided to use home made bricks as the edging barrier, I realized that I could have skipped the black garden edging and staking). Ay yi and learn, right? Well I learned so you don't have to. Experience IS the best teacher!

Step 7: Place Putting Green in Position

Just a picture to show the green in place, the road base fill surrounding, and the black edging bordering the putting green. I did this just to check visual and placement. It was picked up then the decomposed granite was put in place.To anchor the green in place, 3 inch finishing nails are used, hammered into place around the perimeter at about a six inch spacing. The nails disappear into the "grass" so that they are not noticeable. This is necessary to hold the green down. We get some very high Santa Ana winds here but the green hasn't budged at all through several wind events.

Step 8: Cut Holes for Cups

Here, I used some scrap pieces to practice cutting the holes for the cups. This is done as a final step in the installation process. An old serrated knife with a long blade is used; making it real simple.

Step 9: Make and Add Edging Bricks

I decided to edge my putting green with bricks that I could make. Picture notes describe basic process. As I noted earlier, since I chose to do this, I could have skipped the black garden edging material. That would have saved a lot of time and effort, but I came up with this idea AFTER I had installed the greens.

Step 10: Make Flag Poles for Interest

I made the two flag poles as shown, instead of buying them (at about $30 each}. One quarter inch doweling is used as the pole, painted as shown and a flag was cut out of plastic (that used for notebook dividers) and then painted with acrylic paint. The bases were made by cutting a 4 inch round piece out of 3/4 inch pine; I added the base weight shown by pouring some anchor cement, or regular concrete mix into a mold. Before filling the mold, a center piece of dowel, wrapped in paper, was added in the center. After setting, this dowel and paper is removed, leaving the center hole for the flag pole to fit through. This arrangement allows for removal of balls so that you don't have to bend down all the time, and they add to the over all ambiance, I think.

Step 11: Construct Putter Rack

This was easily constructed using some 1x2 materials. For the putter support piece, holes were drilled, then cut out as shown with a band saw, or saber saw if you have one. For the base, I just poured some ready mix concrete into form as shown. This stabilizes the rack and organizes my putters so they are at hand at all times.

Step 12: Add Finishing Touches/Landscape Elements

For interest and to fill in larger areas of decomposed granite, I choose to add potted plants as shown. I could have gone to the labor and expense of installing a drip irrigation system, but it's easy enough to water the containers with a bucket or gallon milk jug. I like to get out in the morning and do some clean up, water plants, tend the garden, and then shoot a few holes! It's like having a mini version of a miniature golf course...which could be expanded on in the future without too much trouble.

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