Should You Hit Golf Balls Off The Mat?

Last updated: February 19, 2021

Golf mats are becoming increasingly popular these days. Thanks to the golf simulators, they’ve made their way into driving ranges and even into some people’s homes.

The primary reason for their popularity is the relatively low cost, and also they are much easier to maintain than grass. The grass is also much more expensive and a labor-intensive resource that can be destroyed in moments. In comparison, golf mats appear to be much more convenient and affordable. 

As more people are flocking into golf ranges to practice, range owners have a natural incentive to increase their capacity. Naturally, golf mats have emerged as a cheap and effective way to do that.

However, despite their popularity, there is also a feeling of distrust against mats in the golfing community worldwide. 

A lot of myths and misconceptions are widespread about golf mats, some of which might be true. Some people will not stop listing the benefits of hitting the balls off a mat, while others can give a lecture about their demerits. So what’s the answer, should you hit golf balls of the mat or not? Well, it’s complicated. 

It’s true hitting golf balls off the mat can have certain pitfalls, but there are some aspects where golf mats truly shine. In this article, we’ll go through all the merits and demerits of hitting golf balls off the mat and understand how hitting golf balls off the mat affects your game.

But first, let’s take a look at how different it is hitting golf balls off mats vs grass.

Difference Between Hitting Golf Balls off Mats vs Grass

Even though the mat might feel the same as the grass, you must understand there is a significant difference between the two. Most notably, several different impediments exist between the clubface and the ball while hitting the ball on grass.

These include tiny pieces of debris, grass blades, and chunks of dirt. On the other hand, mats are relatively cleaner. There are many other differences between hitting golf balls off mats vs grass that we have mentioned below. 

1. No fat shots on mats

If you’re a player whose guilty of hitting too many fat shots, a mat could turn out to be your best friend. This is because a mat will forgive any fat shots you take as the club will slide across the mat’s surface instead of sinking in and ripping off the ground.

The result will also be much more pleasing and not considerably different from the desired shot. On the contrary, a fat shot on the grass will surely rip off the turf and the shot quality will also be degraded. 

2. No divots

This is the most apparent difference, as you won’t see any divots on artificial turf. As mentioned before, the club will slide across the mat or bounce back instead of sinking in as it would’ve done if played on natural grass.

Moreover, you will feel significantly different hitting golf balls off a mat during the impact area.

3. Longer shots are not that different

This is more of a similarity than a difference, but it’s true. Longer shots like hitting a driver off the tee won’t feel much different when hit from a mat or natural grass.

However, you’ll notice a slight decrease in the spin. This is because the club will bounce back from the mat instead of sinking in, which causes it to hit the ball a little higher, making it spin less. 

4. Advantages of Hitting Golf Balls off a Mat

Now that you know the major differences between hitting golf balls off a mat and grass, let’s look at some benefits that a mat can offer. 

5. Mats provide useful feedback

Even though some mishits like the fat shot might make the ball fly the usual distance as it would’ve done on grass, it sure feels different. A mishit on a mat will not feel like a truly hit shot despite the normal distance. This is true for several other mishits like topping the ball or slicing it. 

You can also use a mat to fix your fat shot. Simply put a towel or any other cloth slightly behind the ball and if you hit that cloth, it means you obviously hit a fat. 

6. Improve your driving

Mats come with rubber tees, and hitting off the tee is pretty much the same thing on a mat and on the grass. The setup is nearly identical, and so is the swing path.

It may not be true for other clubs, but mats can go a long way in improving your driving skills. You can easily practice our technique to hit a driver on any golf mat and have satisfactory results.

7. You can use mats in wet weather and winter

Winter and rainy weather are two of the most gruesome enemies of golf. You can’t practice in either of the two situations, which can be frustrating.

Moreover, in certain parts of the world, winters can last for a long time putting put many golfers out of practice and seriously affecting their game. Mats can be of tremendous help in these situations as you can use them for practice in any weather conditions, snowy or rainy. 

8. Mat technology is getting more sophisticated

Mats might not be exactly the same as the grass, but they’re making progress. A few companies are making gigantic leaps in mat technology.

These companies are investing heavily in recreating a grass-like feel on a mat and they’re making great progress. The latest mats are much safer and give similar results to grass.

9. Disadvantages of Hitting Golf Balls off a Mat

After going through all the positives of hitting golf balls off a mat, it’s time to give some thought to the adverse effects. 

10. Mats can cause injuries

This is the most common concern of golfers who are wary of practicing on mats. While true to some extent, it is nothing significant to worry about in the short run. Most mats have concrete underneath them and a layer of padding to cushion the blow when the club hits the ground.

However, despite the padding, prolonged exposure can cause some injuries. The risk of injury is greater with clubs with a steeper angle of attack like wedges.

Golfers that practice regularly on mats have often reported tendonitis in hands, wrist, arms, and shoulders, along with pain. We would not recommend hitting golf balls off a mat to players who have existing injuries in these body parts.

11. Mats can cause club damage

Repeated impacts on concrete mats can significantly damage your golf clubs after a while. The damage can be particularly serious in irons as practicing for too long on a mat can alter their lie angles.

Seeing your expensive clubs get deteriorated can be disheartening and frustrating. That is why we recommend that you use older clubs or second-hand clubs while hitting golf balls off a mat.

However, this defeats the purpose of golf, as the game is all about getting used to playing with your clubs and have an immersive experience. 

12. Mats can give misleading information

As we mentioned before, mats can forgive certain mishits like the fat shot. It might be comforting during that moment to see positive results from a mishit, but it is certainly not helping your game.

If you keep hitting the same distance despite a mishit, the chances of you improving that mishit are pretty slim. Also, golf balls generally travel farther when hit from a mat, which can often mislead players about their shot quality. 

13. You may develop poor swing habits

As you practice on a golf mat repeatedly, your swing path and other aspects of your swing will get altered accordingly. You can thank the human subconscious mind for this.

Mishits on a mat will cause slightly more discomfort than on the grass, and your mind will shape your movements to lessen that discomfort.

Over time, your swing patterns will have changed considerably to compensate for mild pain in your joints and muscles. As a result, your club swing will also flatten after some time hitting golf balls off a mat. 

14. Should you hit golf balls off the mat?: Final Thoughts

There’s no right answer to whether you should hit golf balls off the mat or not. You must keep in mind certain aspects before you come to a decision about the same.

We have covered all of those aspects thoroughly. Making a habit of hitting golf balls off a mat can indeed have some disadvantages; however, there are some aspects of your game that you can dramatically improve on a mat. One of these is improving your driving skills and being able to practice in any weather. 

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