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Critical Golf: Unbiased Golf Equipment Reviews

ProActive ProCircuit Putt Return System

ProActive ProCircuit Putt Return System

Score

81

Grade

B-

The ProActive ProCircuit Putt Return System is a putting mat with an electrically powered ball return. The magic of this device is its excellent ball return mechanism, which uses a diverter at the end of the ball return track to get the ball to pop back out on to the mat right where it started. Perfect for the lazy golfer who doesn’t want to reach the 12 inches to get the ball back! One thing to note about the ball return mechanism is that it requires an electrical outlet, so some advance thought on where the mat is going to be placed is recommended.

Where the ProActive ProCircuit Putt Return System fails is in the quality of the putting surface. The putting surface retained curls, folds and irregularities from being rolled up, even after we reverse rolled it and then lay heavy books across the surface for several days.

Use some caution in evaluating ProActive’s product description – while they claim that the mat is adjustable to 3, 6 or 9 feet (more accurately, the ball return track is adjustable – the mat, of course, stays the same length), our mat only measured 8 feet, 1 inch in its entirety. This isn’t much different from most mats on the market, but if you are looking at the ProActive ProCircuit exclusively because you think that it is longer than the competition, you should re-evaluate.

If just want something to putter around with in your office (or as a golf gift to someone who is going to use it as an office toy), the ProActive ProCircuit Putt Return System is a fun device, but the lack of a smooth putting surface made the ProCircuit essentially useless as a serious game improvement tool.

SCORE
81
GRADE
B-
Setup
84
Teaching Value
80
Fun
91
Construction/Durability
79
Cost/Value
78

Pros:

  • The ball return is fantastic, as the ball shoots down a track and then is steered back on to the mat right in front of you

Cons:

  • Thin putting surface wouldn’t flatten out, and can be fast or slow depending on the type of floor/carpet on which you place it
  • Ball return must be plugged in, which may limit where you can place the mat

Retail price: $69.99


84 / B

SETUP

In theory, this should be a dream to set up. The instructions provide a nice step-by-step description of how to unroll the mat, attach the backstop/putter stand to the putt return base by popping in three little plastic screws/fasteners, connect the three ball return tracks, and then plug the putt return base into a nearby electrical outlet (the cord is 6 feet long) to power the ball return mechanism.

Where the theory fails is unrolling the mat. We followed the instructions on how to smooth out the putting surface, including rolling it in the opposite direction and laying books across the entire length of the putting surface for several days. The result – the putting green still looked about as smooth as a linen shirt that was balled up wet and thrown into a laundry hamper a week ago.

As far as we can tell, there isn’t an easy solution – the putting surface is just too thin to lie flat on its own.

The remaining setup steps were not problematic, and easily accomplished without any tools or mechanical aptitude, for that matter.

At 8’1” long and 1’ wide, the ProActive ProCircuit Putt Return System was the smallest mat among the entry level mats we tested.


80 / B-

TEACHING VALUE

The ProActive ProCircuit Putt Return System excels at what its name would lead you to believe – returning the putt to you. But in terms of teaching value, the only thing that it does is encourage you to putt the ball past the hole by setting the cup on a slight incline. The other incentive for giving your putts sufficient pace is that the ball only comes back on the nifty return track if you hole the putt or reach a trough located past the hole. Hit it short, and you’ll have to walk the couple of paces on your own to get the ball back. Ah the things we’ll learn because we’re lazy!


91 / A-

FUN

There’s probably only so much fun one can actually have with a putting mat, but we’ll admit that we were hooked by the ProActive ProCircuit Putt Return System’s entertaining ball return system. As described above, the ball returns right to your feet (assuming that you are standing at about 3, 5 or 7 feet from the hole). The ball returner consistently fired the ball back, so you’re spared from the drudgery of fishing your balls back all of the time.

It’s so automatic that you could practice putting during a conference call – and who doesn’t want something to make conference calls more entertaining?


79 / C+

CONSTRUCTION / DURABILITY

As mentioned above, a problem that the ProActive ProCircuit Putt Return System shares with some of its competitors is that the material from which the putting mat is made is too thin, which results in its retention of bumps, creases and bulges from when it was rolled up into its box.

The lack of heft to the green surface meant that it tends to replicate the speed of the surface upon which it is placed. This is most problematic if you’re using it on a thick carpet, in which case it becomes like putting through heavy rough. Place it on a hard surface, and the speed increases noticeably.

The ball return track is made of thin plastic, and didn’t fit together perfectly. The imperfections didn’t affect the performance of the device, but neither did they give the impression of a high-end finished product.

A problem that the ProActive ProCircuit Putt Return System shares with many of its competitors is that the plastic frame upon which the “hole” area is built isn’t substantial enough. We’re fairly confident that accidentally stepping on it would lead to serious damage.

The backstop/putter holder that snaps on to the hole platform is also made of thin plastic, and didn’t exactly inspire confidence.

Our final complaint about the fit and finish is that the end of our mat wasn’t cut perpendicular to the direction of the putt, but rather cut at a slight diagonal.


80 / B-

COST / VALUE

At an MSRP of $69.99, the ProActive ProCircuit Putt Return System is priced in the upper band among basic putting mats. The ball return mechanism is nifty, but is counterbalanced by the poor build quality of the putting surface and the other component parts.