What’s the difference between hitting off a mat vs turf at the driving range?
I get this question all the time. Each hitting surface has positives and negatives. For this week’s Tip Of The Week, I take a closer look at hitting off each surface, revealing the pros and cons. Consider the following points to see what works best for you.
Hitting off a Mat vs Turf
You get to the course, check in and grab a bucket of range balls. Approaching the range, you notice the “Mats only” sign. Many people aren’t excited to see this sign, but I want to point out a few reasons hitting off mats isn’t that bad.
The first positive when using a mat, you always have the same lie. This consistency lets you focus on what you’re there for, hitting golf balls. Mats are also great if your range session is just for a quick warmup. You don’t have to search up and down the range for a patch of grass that isn’t dug up, making your warm-up quick and easy.
Another advantage stems from a perceived disadvantage of mats. Mats are known to be more forgiving than grass. Hitting behind the ball, for example, doesn’t result in a chunk shot. Instead, the club bounces off of the mat and you’ll hit a relatively good shot. On the other hand, when you’re working on your swing, bouncing into the ball isn’t a good thing.
As a warm-up before a round, the forgiveness of hitting off a mat vs turf has a positive effect on your mindset. We’ve all warmed up on grass, hit a few shots heavy, then immediately tried to fix our swing right before our tee time. In my experience, a rush “fix” never ends well, shattering confidence and results on the course. With the mat, heavy shots are absent. You’re able to stay focused on loosening up and preparing for your round.
Finally, the technology of mats and artificial turf has progressed a ton in recent years. There are now mats that have both fairway and rough length artificial grass on them, simulating the real thing. In the past, a mat was basically a thick piece of green carpet on a concrete slab. Now, with cushion layers underneath and better synthetic grass, it’s becoming increasingly similar to the real thing.
If you’re heading out to the course to spend time working on your swing, turf is the better way to go. The most obvious advantage here is that you’re able to closely replicate on-course conditions. Having this feedback, focusing on your technique on good shots and adjustments for bad shots is easier.
You’re also able to practice under different ground conditions when hitting on turf. For instance, if you’re looking to work on playing in wet conditions, turf will be wet and muddy, letting you learn the adjustments needed to make solid contact. On a mat, it may be wet but the conditions under the mat will always be firm.
Finally, long sessions on real grass are less stressful on your clubs and your body. Despite the improved cushioning on mats, hitting buckets of balls off of them has negative results. One common issue I’ve seen is changes to lofts and lie angles, especially on forged clubs. This especially applies if you spend sessions working with one or two clubs, like a 7 iron and pitching wedge. Those club(s) take more abuse than if you’re hitting balls with each club. Have your lofts and lies checked and adjusted every three months or so if most of your time is spend hitting off a mat. Hit mostly off of turf? You can get away with getting your clubs checked once or twice a year.
Another concern is the extra shock sent up the club, into your body, from hitting off the firmer mat. This leads to a greater chance for injuries on mishits.
Mat vs Turf: Final Thought
There are advantages and disadvantages to hitting from a mat vs turf. Knowing what to expect and how to manage it makes both acceptable forms of warming up and working on your game.
More recent Tips Of The Week