If you’re serious about improving your game, putting practice is a core part of your training regimen. There are apps for practice, games for practice (think 21 or horse), and a ton of advice on YouTube and other web sites. Like any practice routine however, the closer it is to “game” experience, the better.
I’ve practiced on the SkillShot umbrella-type collapsable basket, the tortuous Marksman target and more recently the DiscCatcher Sport. Each of these has their benefits: the SkillShot is inexpensive and portable, folding up into a carry-all bag; the Marksman forces a very straight putting line (which some players feel is critical); and the DiscCatcher Sport mimics a competition basket to maximize the practice experience.
That said, each of these baskets also comes with real drawbacks: the SkillShot doesn’t catch like a real basket, so in many cases you end up practicing a putt that may not actually fit the playing course; the Marksman–well, see previous comment and amplify; and the DiscCatcher Sport, while closest to true, still tends to under-perform compared to a course-quality basket. With a single set of chains and a body made for lightness and portability, the Sport lets a lot of good putts slip through the chain and you can get some strange bounce- and spit- outs.
In my search for a quality basket for putting practice, I recently bought an RPM DiscMate basket to try it out (as an RPM Ambassador I get a discount on RPM merchandise and that gives me an excuse to play with such fun new toys). Spoiler alert: this is will be last practice basket I’ll ever buy.
The DiscMate is a portable practice basket that accurately mimics putting play on a permanent course install. The basket is built with fully welded steel zinc and powder coated hanger and basket, with two layers of chains to catch your putts, similar to most permanent basket installs. Despite the heavy-duty build, the basket quickly breaks down: chains, footing, and polls sitting sweetly in the basket tray, making the whole set easily portable for one person (into a roughly 25″ x 25″ x 10″ tall box).
Built out, I’ve been putting on the basket now for about three months and can’t detect any difference in outcome in catching compared to the baskets at my local course (Mundy Park in Coquitlam, BC). The two sets of chain virtually eliminate the splash throughs common to the other baskets and the professional weight chain gives an accurate catch. While three months is a short time for any feedback on durability, I’ve had no issues with the construction–chains, basket, and all parts are solid, in place, and working well.
If you take the sport seriously (or want to), I’d avoid going the entry-level portable basket route (likely to turn into two or three baskets over time) and go straight to a professional class portable basket. In the long run it will serve you better in both skill development and durability. Although the initial cost is likely to be slightly higher (the RPM DiscMate is priced at about $300 Canadian; $230 US), a professional quality basket will also hold its resale value over time. My only complaint is that I didn’t buy this basket sooner. 🙂