Hitting Off of Mats vs. Turf

Hi TT,

I joined an executive course that has a large practice facility that is open till 10pm during the weekdays and 11pm on weekends.  The ability to practice after my daughter has gone to sleep gives me the chance to spend quality time with her and then head out and work on my game (wife is ok with the late night practice as well).  Although the facility is great the large grass range is not what I would call fairway material.  In fact it is manicured so that it is like you are hitting out of rough.  Fluffy lies, clover in spots etc.  Remember this is an executive course that I joined just so I could work on my swing in the off hours, they are not using Toro Reelmasters to cut the turf.  So I choose to use the mat facility as opposed to the "rough style" range.  My question is am I hurting my game at all by using mats as opposed to hitting off of grass? 

Sounds like the grass area would be good for practicing shots out of the "rough". Mats won't hurt your game but they do allow you

to hit a shot a bit fat and not really notice it. Having a flat surface to practice on is more important though. Be careful if the 

mats are rock hard though, it's easy to get tendonitis in your elbow if you pound a lot of balls. Good luck

Jesse,

One of the risks of hitting off mats is that your fat shots will still fly and look great, but if you groove that "fat" swing, your results on the course will be disappointing.  One winter of indoor simulator use led to a terrible spring start for me, I'd developed some bad habits.

Another risk, is depending upon the mats and the surface beneath (concrete?) is the repeated impact on your wrists and elbows.  I know a couple of guys with injuries they attribute to hitting off a mat range.  And, if you have forged clubs, I've heard that you can change the loft/lie from repeated mat/concrete range use.  I don't know if that's an urban legend or fact, so please take that with a grain of salt.

I am eagerly waiting for responses to this. I have wondered about this for some time. None of the local courses here have natural grass driving ranges, and I feel hitting off of the mat all the time hinders my on course performance.

In my opinion, not as long as you're very aware of your contact. It's possible to hit behind the ball off mats and still get fairly solid feedback.  I practice mainly on turf, but hit off of mats when my local is closed. 

In my experience, hitting off mats will not hurt your game but you have to be able to analyze your strike better. Mats tend to make fat shot turn out better and in my experience, minimize mishits. 

Hi Jesse,

It is my experience that when hitting off a mat, I do not get the true affect of hitting behind the ball during a poor golf swing. The club will bounce thru the mat and and actually produce a not so bad shot. When hitting off the turf, you know when you're hitting behind the ball by producing divots before impact.

Living in the Northeast, I am use to hitting off mats before the season begins. I have had to fight thru fat chunky swing faults because of my practice rounds off mats. Ive learned thru experience that its better to practice than not, but to be aware of how a mat affects the bounce of my club head. I will try to pick it more off a mat than hit down and once warm weather arrives, try to practice only on grass.

I hope this helps, 

Jed

A little background on my home range. My club has a nice grass range that let's us hit off the grass during the growing season (March - November)then we move to the mats. The mats are very forgiving in the sense that if you hit the ball fat (behind)the hard surface of the mat will let the club face bounce into the ball where you still get a pretty good shot. When you hit off of grass a fat shot will never be any good. So the mat will give you a false feed back on fat shots. The majority of grass ranges I have hit balls from are usually mowed down to what I consider a tight lie. I am also what you would consider a sweeper and not a digger. These tight lies do not mimic the usual fairway lies which are a fraction higher but just enough to raise the ball off the ground to make a sweeper like me hitting the ball much easier than the range. The few grass ranges that are similar to your description I think are great as the fluffy lies you describe for me, makes ball striking easier. These kind of ranges more realistically mimic the real fairway where hopefully you will be hitting most of your shots. Bottom line IMHO that grass is better than mats. When hitting a ball with a tee there is no difference.

Don't know if the mats will hurt your game.  When I go to an indoor range through the winter and hit from mats, I'm just looking to work on my pre-shot drill, stance / shoulder alignment, and swing rhythm.  I do not hit balls laying directly on the mat, I tee them all up with the rubber tees they have.  I have never thought that this hurt my game any.

A lot depends on what you are trying to do.  If your working on tempo and balance the mats are probably fine.  The mat will correct many things at impact so you do not get a true measure of how you are hitting it.  That being said It is better than nothing.  Watch your wrists with too much mat time.  I would try hitting several shots off the grass and create a bare patch from divots, the practice off the bare patch.

Absolutely not. hitting off mats 9while not nearly as much fun) gives you the sweeping motion rather than a digging motion that puts way too much spoin on the ball.  Obviously, it's easier to hit long irons that way than 8-PW but anytime you can swing a club it's beneficial. Also, there's a but less room for error off mats than grass. You'll feel a mis-hits much more off mats.

In my opinion, the main thing you need to be careful of in using mats vs grass is your contact with the ball.  Hitting off mats, the club can easily come down short of the ball, bounce into the ball, and give you what feels like good contact, but actually is not.  If you hit the same shot off grass you'll hit the ball fat.  There are ways to highlight this on mats, such as placing a towel behind the ball.  If the towel moves, you're bottoming out behind the ball instead of hitting the ball first.  Both work, you just need to be aware of what happens at the bottom of the swing.

As I am happy to be in the fairway, alas it is not always so. I would choose to play on the real anytime over mats. I will assume that you are not always playing on PGA type courses. (executive) you are on occasion playing off bad lies, clover, less than perfect conditions. Where as on a mat you are always playing from a spot where you can have a perfect lie. If you hit down on the ball and take divots then your hands will surely get a workout. If you pick the ball then not as bad.  I can't say this would hurt your game as any practice in any condition is better than no practice then go for it. You will see soon enough if your game will suffer.  

Hi Jesse,

I always feel like when you hit off mats and not turf you get a different feel to your shots and it does not mimic what you would encounter on turf. Given a choice, I would rather hit off turf than mats, but that is just me. It is also tougher to shape shots off a mat as well (for me at least).

I would always hit off grass if given the option

Mats seem to be really forgiving on any kind of fat or tin shot