Will Hitting off Mats Hurt My Game?

Dan Gold
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Will Hitting off Mats Hurt My Game? A Perennial Golf Debate

If you’re one of the people that still hit off mats, this question applies to you.

You won’t be alone in this. In fact, there are millions of golfers out there who still practice their game off mats every time they’re in the golf course. Some of the biggest names in sport have also practiced off mats.

There’s been a lot of debate over time about whether hitting off mats is bad for your game and if you should stop doing it. When performed often enough, hitting off mats does have its disadvantages. But if you’re a casual golfer, hitting them every so often is unlikely to injure your game.

Let’s look at the two sides to this issue, starting with the pros of hitting off mats.

First is the convenience factor. Hitting off mats allows golfers to practice when they want and when they have the time, even if the golf club’s range is closed.

You don’t have to get into your car and drive all the way to your local range. You can practice in the comfort of your home. It’s also more convenient when your kids are in school and you don’t have time to go to a range.

Hitting From Mats – The Case Against

As I mentioned earlier in the book, I used to hit off mats. Now I don’t, so you’re wondering why I would recommend that you hit off mats, then.

Well, I hit off mats until I was about 15 years old, playing in junior tournaments all the time. If you’ve been to a junior tournament, you’ll see a lot of people hitting off mats. It’s quite common in junior tournaments.

I would always remember hitting off mats, being very tired from practicing in a hot humid gym… And then walking up to the mats and banging the crap out of the ball. It wasn’t very satisfying, and it didn’t really train me to play on grass. And I would always get really good scores on mats, and then when I played on grass, I got like two-deuce on almost every match. It was so bad until I just gave up hitting off mats.

As I got older, I said, “What the heck? Why am I hitting off mats?” So, I started to hit off grass a little more, and I noticed a good difference. When I started playing on turf, I finally noticed an even better difference.

Mats Increase Your Risk of Injury

Hitting off mats isn’t the fountain of youth. It’s a step backwards to your golfing mortality. While using the grass or dirt as your hitting off surface is less convenient, golfers will be better off on the course if they don’t resort to mats.

Centuries of golf history and management experience have taught golf course managers that golfers are either casual golfers, who are content with hitting off mats, or serious golfers who come to the course to work up a sweat and get their game right.

After all, a good golf course will have decent turf as well as visible grass to act as a visual aid for a solid strike. There’s no point in hitting off mats, which can only provide a false sense of security to you and your practice.

Reasons Not to Hit off Mats

It artificially insulates your swing and setting up to the ball.

It hampers your natural swing.

It can exaggerate a bad habit.

It can reinforce an incorrect setup and swing path.

It can hamper the natural flow of a shot.

It can inhibit consistency.

It cannot tell you whether or not you’re making a good strike.

It’s a shortcut to nowhere.

Mats May Give You Misleading Information About Your Swing

The real question you need to ask is, What information do you value from hitting off mats while practicing?

Don’t frustrate yourself by thinking that hitting off mats will automatically make you a better golfer in a short period of time. It is not the shock absorbance of the mats that is the issue.

Ultimately, to become a better golfer, you must develop a solid golf swing. Unfortunately, practicing your swing off a mat does not necessarily translate into a solid golf swing. The information provided to you by an artificial mat is misleading because it does not respond like a real degree green.

The biggest concern is that hitting off mats does not train your body to set up properly as you prepare to swing. The contact area is flat, not sloped, and you are hitting into a much softer target. The swing that works in these conditions is a much different swing than what is required by a golf ball.

You won’t know what a solid swing feels like until you practice your swing with real golf balls and real greens. To develop a solid golf swing, one of the most important steps is getting your body set up properly before the club strikes the ball. Instead, hitting off mats does not allow for that type of body programming, which means that when you finally swing a golf ball, you will need to adjust your body to deal with the additional resistance that a golf ball provides.

Mats May Groove Poor Swing Habits

Each time I walk into the clubhouse of a course under construction, I can hear the chainsaws cutting the trees, the golf carts buzzing and the sounds of contractors hammering away on the construction. I can’t help but wonder: What on earth are they building?

Often, they’re building a new driving range. And what normally we don’t think about, especially in the age of indoor golf practice facilities, is the fact that they make typical dumb golfers even dumber.

The first time I played a driving range, I wondered, “Why the heck are there mats all over the ground?” After playing the game for so long, I’d always hit out of the rough, out of the bunkers, and off the cart paths. So the mats were really confusing.

With time, you may be weaned from the technicalities of your game and not think much about the right way to hit the ball. But mat practice can quickly ruin that. Because mat practice times are so limited, you’ll find yourself hitting off them every round, for years and years. And when your game suffers, you’ll take it out on your golf range mats.

What makes mat practice so bad?

Mats May Damage Your Clubs

A protective mat costs a couple hundred dollars, while new clubs can be several thousand. So why would anyone use a mat?

Firstly, some clubs are designed to be hit off of mats, like with practice or training clubs. They use dimples on the club head designed to reduce friction such that the impact is reduced.

However, it’s important to note that the club face makes a difference, even on practice clubs. Different clubs are designed to be used on different mats.

So if you’ve just purchased your "first clubs," buy them standard. Hitting off of mats may harm them.

Secondly, even if a club is designed to be hit off of a mat, it might not be designed to do so repeatedly. Mats are hard and can cause real damage to a club face.

Lightly hitting off of a mat may help you when you’re first learning, and you may even do so at home. But the reality is that you’d be better served by hitting without a mat.

Getting good at hitting the ball involves focusing on your mechanics, and that is compromised when you are hitting off of a mat.

Hitting From Mats – The Advantages

The reasonable cost! This is one of the most important advantages of using a mat. Because mats aren’t that expensive.

The easily portable feature! Because it is not that hard to carry the mat from one place to another because it is small and lighter yet stronger than you think.

The very good surface that is easy to clean and durable! Its surface is attractive thus adding beauty to the venue of the place where you use it. It is not only durable but very easy to clean it up then its other counterparts.

The uniform thickness! Considering the weight of the person using the mat, the manufacturers add some padding underneath to make it soft yet reliable. This one has no beveled edges or corners that will conveniently drive the person hitting the ball.

Considerations to make! Although this mat is the preference of many players who want remain budget while playing tennis but that does not automatically mean that you should use it without considering a factor or two.

It cannot be used on all kind of floors! Mats are generally used on a specific type of floor and are not recommended for some types. You should know what pad is suitable for that type of floor before purchasing.

You Can Get Some Useful Feedback from Mats

Ask any golfer about the value of hit off mats and you will get a resounding yes. Hit-off mats have become an integral part of many golfers’ play areas and it won’t be long before you start to see them at your local driving range.

Hit-off mats are relatively new in golf; they found their way onto golf courses only in recent years. They are designed to replicate fairway conditions so accurately that your bad areas will become clear and easy to identify. They are now used widely as part of golf fitness and practice sessions.

Unlike fairway conditions that you are not able to replicate with tee shots like elevation, topography, and lighting, the conditions that you get with hit-off mats are as near as possible and that is why they can give you a clearer picture of your game.

With Mats You Will Always Be Hitting From a True Surface

If your ball has not stopped before making impact with the green, you missed the shot. hitting off mat is designed to

You can still practice on anything from grass to hard boats, even though it may cause some damage to your equipment in the long run.

As helping tools, they provide a consistent shot and a true shot on any green.

They are also specially made to be portable and can be easily folded to fit into your golf bag. That’s something many golfers couldn’t do with a life-sized mat. Many pros are benefiting from hitting off mats. It is just the right tool to use, whether you are inside a practice facility or outside.

How you shape your swing when using a mat would depend on what kind of practice you wish to simulate. Make a backswing while doing your normal swing or use a shorter backswing if the short game is what you are focusing on.

Don’t forget to adjust your grip on the club. You don’t want to pull off a hook shot all the way to the car door because you were holding the club properly for a good pull!

You can also practice any other type of shot that you want once you place the hitting mat in a suitable place for you.

Mats Allow Wet Weather and Winter Practice

There are two main reasons why golfers would hit off mats. One, you may like to practice hitting your drives in the off season.

Preferably, if you live in a climate where it snows, you will place it next to a snow filled area. The snow acts as a soft landing surface.

The second reason is that you want to practice hitting drives when you are not able to hit off grass due to rain. Obviously, you will use the mat in this case.

You may also want to put your mat near the edge of your back yard. This allows you to practice your short game like chips, pitches and sand shots. You can get a fairly good feel in your shorter shots over a good roll. The mat also protects the back of your yard from divots.

A golf mat is not the easiest investment in the world.

I would start with the option of building a bench. Paint your bench, or take the time to sand it smooth. It will provide an area for your colleagues or guests to wait while you hit your shots.

If you don’t want to deal with wood and nails, you might consider buying a tee box with a target area. It gives you a place to hit that is several yards long and maybe around 10 feet wide. That’s about the same size as a putting green.

Mat Technology Has Advanced Enormously

If you are new to the world of home practice, it’s key to understand why hitting off mats is incredibly beneficial. In short, hitting off mats improves your contact with the golf ball. The technology in is the process of hitting off mats has advanced tremendously!

When clubs first came out, hitting off mats meant clapping hands together. Nowadays, advanced hitting off mats have become popular and offer surefire help to avid golfers. But to what extent?

There are many benefits of hitting off mats. Here are a few to get you started.

In this day and age, people have become so used to automatic sprinklers, washing machines, refrigerators and dishwashers that some of us forgot how to wash our clothes or wash dishes the old-fashioned way. The same holds true for hitting golf balls. These days, there is no need to hit balls off a lush green, but you do need to learn how to hit balls properly into water, sand traps and rough. By using mats, you can practice your short game anywhere you choose. Also, instead of spending hundreds of dollars on actual golf practice, you only need to spend a few dollars buying the mat.

Has advanced enormously!

Mats Can Be Fun!

There’s a common misconception that hitting off mats is just a form of “practice” that is always best to avoid. I’m not sure where this idea originates, but I’ve seen it stated in books and in forums across the web. I’ve also heard it from multiple instructors who simply cite it as fact.

So, what is this practice for? Why do many golf courses have mats when there is no financial incentive to let people practice their swings? If it helps your game, how can it be bad? And if it doesn’t, should you still avoid it?

I would like to propose that hitting off mats is neither a waste of time nor a hindrance to your game. It’s important for the safety and for the enjoyment of those around you – something worth considering when you’re on the course.

But before we dig into the details, let’s talk about mats themselves. Although there are all kinds of mats available, for our purposes we’ll assume you’re using a rubber mat from your local sporting goods store.

Final Thoughts

Almost everyone goes through a fear of failure. But as we’ve seen, working through it doesn’t mean the end of our dreams. It just means we have to be willing to embrace the change and hopefully learn from the experience.