Hitting on Golf Mat vs Grass
If you play golf regularly, then you’ve probably experienced your fair share of “mats only” days at the driving range. These days are usually disappointing with the only thing worse being a driving range that's “irons only”. What’s the point of hitting the range if you can’t swing your anger out on a few drives? But are golf mats that bad? Are they even that much different than real grass? Read on to learn about the differences between golf mats and grass!
Difference Between Mats and Grass
The difference between hitting off grass vs a mat really comes down to the fact that you can’t take a divot out of a mat. The way that the club interacts with the hitting surface will be slightly different since your club will bounce off the surface rather than go through the surface. This leads to some benefits and a few disadvantages compared to grass.
Golf Mat Advantages
Let’s first discuss the advantages of hitting off golf mats. The first advantage is consistency. With a mat, you get the same lie every time. This consistency allows you to work on your game with no variation in your lie. A slice is a slice and you don’t have an excuse! Mats also allow you to work on certain swing drills without needing to change locations after each shot. For example, if you want to work on your ball positioning you would set up a club or alignment stick perpendicular to your target line and take your stance. Off grass, your divot would require you to move the ball after each shot, thus having to reset your alignment stick.
Golf Mat Disadvantages
Mats can have a tendency to be tougher on your clubs and your body. Mats might wear down your clubs slightly faster than grass would. In addition, a firm mat can be tougher on your wrists over long range sessions. The steeper your swing is, the more this will be the case. Mats also tend to be more forgiving than grass - especially on shots that are hit fat. Your club will bounce off the mat into the ball rather than dig into the grass. Thus golf mats are less telling than grass and could lead you to develop a bad habit without knowing it.
Lastly, golf mats can affect the ball flight of your shot slightly. Just like a different lie on the golf course will affect the distance and flight of your shot, the type of mat can affect the total distance of your shot. In a few different tests, mats were shown to affect the distance of your shot by around 2-8% compared to grass. The biggest numbers affected are spin and launch angle.
How similar are golf mats to grass?
In the end, a solidly struck shot is a solidly struck shot and there should be very little difference between the average mat and a fairway. The main differences between mats and grass will show up on mishits. The extent of the disadvantages discussed above will also depend on the type of mat you are on. Unfortunately, many driving ranges use old worn out mats that are behind current technology. These mats will accentuate the disadvantages. However, many of the new golf mats have really great technology that makes the difference between mats and grass very minimal. Fiberbuilt Golf Mats are proven to provide very similar results to grass - especially when it comes to ball flight and total distance. Another great golf mat is TrueStrike. These mats use an impact absorbing, gel cushion layer below the hitting surface. This gel absorbs the energy from your club, simulating real grass, and minimizing strain and injury to golfers.
If you are looking for a mat for your own home setup then you have the luxury of picking the golf mat you use. Fiberbuilt and TrueStrike are great options. For more information regarding golf mats and the best ones to use visit our Best Golf Mats guide.