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Mats vs. Grass


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As a background , I used to "play" golf 15 years ago. It was more of a social excuse more than anything, with friends and pre-youtube help etc. So I was awful then. Recently the past couple of years, I started playing with a focus on enjoying the game and getting better. I have taken about 5 lessons which helped me dramatically. I went from shooting 110 -115 to 92 - 96.

I've read some things about Mats vs. Grass and I strongly feel like Mats are screwing up my game. For me personally it really doesn't translate. I can feel like I'm flushing irons on mats, but when I get to the course, even with a perfect fairway lie, I'm struggling to get the same consistent hits. There are not a lot of Grass driving ranges around me in Massachusetts, so I guess my ask from the many better players on this.... 

What is an effective way for a beginner to practice on mats that DOES translate to grass? Currently I practice my alignment with sticks, I use the towel drill to practice compression... What other drills would you suggest for some winter practice when I get to the indoor ranges this winter?

"In fact , we both tend to hold the Midwestern stoic view that genuine problems are solved with action, not pissing and moaning. If you run around sharing your feelings too much, you'll eventually arrive at a place where you're not only still screwed up, but now everyone knows about it, too." - John Gierach - Sex, Death and Fly Fishing

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I wish I could help. All I know is mats allow you to get away with hitting it a little fat. You may want to post this in the instruction folder. You might get more responses there. 

14 of the following:

Ping G430 Max 10.5 degree

Callaway 2023 Big Bertha 3 wood set to 17 degrees

Cobra F9 Speedback 7/8 wood set at 23.5 degrees

Callaway Epic Max 11 wood

Ping Eye 2 BeCu 2-SW

Mizuno 923 JPX HM HL 6-GW

Hogan sand wedge 56 degree bent to 53

Maltby M Series+ 54 degree

Ping Glide 3.0 Eye2 58 degree

Ping Glide 3.0 60 degree

Evnroll ER2

Ping Sigma 2 Anser

Cheap Top Flite mallet putter from Dick's, currently holding down first place in the bag

TaylorMade Mini Spider

Bridgestone XS

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Some easier drills to make sure your contact is better off of mats are put a coin right behind the ball and try not to hit it so that you are making contact with the ball first. Mats give some room for fat shots.  

You could also put down some blue painters tape if allowed and place ball right in front of line.  

:callaway-small: Paradym TD Driver w/ Ventus Blue 6S

:ping-small: 3W

:srixon-small: MKII ZX 5's (4-6) w/ KBS Tour V

:srixon-small: MKII ZX 7's (7-PW) w/ KBS Tour V

:titleist-small: Vokey Wedges 50* 54* 58*

:L.A.B.: DF2.1 Putter

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9 hours ago, Shakeyfly said:

I've read some things about Mats vs. Grass and I strongly feel like Mats are screwing up my game. For me personally it really doesn't translate. I can feel like I'm flushing irons on mats, but when I get to the course, even with a perfect fairway lie, I'm struggling to get the same consistent hits. There are not a lot of Grass driving ranges around me in Massachusetts, so I guess my ask from the many better players on this.... 

What is an effective way for a beginner to practice on mats that DOES translate to grass? Currently I practice my alignment with sticks, I use the towel drill to practice compression... What other drills would you suggest for some winter practice when I get to the indoor ranges this winter?

What is different?  While the feel of mat vs. ground may be different, it should generally be the same.  Fat shots are really where the issue comes into play.  Mats will often cause the ball to bounce and result in acceptable shots.  Fat on the course doesn't typically work.  The towel behind the ball should give you an indication of the fat shot unless the towel is too far back.  You could also use a line of foot powder spray on the mat to check impact location.   Other drills would be anything associated with low point control.

Driver:  :ping-small: G400 Max 9* w/ KBS Tour Driven
Fairway: :titelist-small: TS3 15*  w/Project X Hzardous Smoke
Hybrids:  :titelist-small: 915H 21* w/KBS Tour Graphite Hybrid Prototype
                :titelist-small: 915H  24*  w/KBS Tour Graphite Hybrid Prototype        
Irons:      :honma:TR20V 6-11 w/Vizard TR20-85 Graphite
Wedge:  :titleist-small: 54/12D, 60/8M w/:Accra iWedge 90 Graphite
Putter:   :taylormade-small:TM-180

Testing:   SPGC_logo.jpg

Backups:  :odyssey-small: Milled Collection RSX 2, :seemore-small: mFGP2, :cameron-small: Futura 5W

Member:  MGS Hitsquad since 2017697979773_DSCN2368(Custom).JPG.a1a25f5e430d9eebae93c5d652cbd4b9.JPG

 

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Practicing is still practicing and if you only have a mat to play on or use then don't let that get in your way. Mats as mentioned can hide some poor strikes as it allows you to not take big divots. 

The drill @cnosil mentioned is the best one I can think of. There are some mats that have more give or are less firm which can help a little bit. 

⛳🛄 as of Nov 6, 2023 (Past WITB
Driver:  :callaway-small: Paradym TD w/ GD ADDI 6X Driver Shootout! 

Wood:    :cobra-small: F7 3 wood 14.5* w/ Motore F1 Shaft

Irons:   :titleist-small: T Series - T200 5 Iron
                                          T150 6-9 Iron
                                          T100 PW/GW

Wedge:  Toura Golf - A Spec 53,37,61 degree 

Putter:  Screenshot 2023-06-02 13.10.30.png Mezz Max!

Balls:     Vice Pro Plus Drip (Blue/Orange)

 

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Mats definitely have their limitations but overall work great if you are trying to work on swing mechanics. I can’t use mats when working on my wedge game very well because  you can’t replicate a swing that takes a big divot. However, they work great for mid and long irons, and woods as well, where you have more of a sweeping swing. Add into the mix that some mats are better than others when it comes to feel so you can’t just simply say all mats are good or bad. In the end it’s definitely a personal preference thing but I would caution against using only mats for all practice sessions. Nothing prepares for the course better than hitting non grass. 

Driver:  cobralogo.png.60692cdc05482efd83e68664e010b95f.png Aerojet LS, Ventus Blue Shaft - 6S
4 Wood:  callaway.png.e65d398fb0327017a369499fc6126064.png Rogue ST Max 16.5, Tensei White Shaft - 7S
Utility Iron: mizunopro.png.90cc4fb9895830e28063d9a5be416145.png Fli Hi 3-iron, HAZARDOUS Smoke Black Shaft - S
Irons:  mizuno.png.f0e7b21135cb6273b3c1430866904467.png JPX 921 Tour 4-P, Project X Shafts - Stiff 125g
Wedges: cleveland.png.f21f4d2361520fdf1bbd9d515a2f11e6.png 52º, 56º, 60º
Putter:  odyssey.png.58c727e37eb7efda62bce4f7b8881bd9.png Ai-One 7 T CH, 34"
Preferred Ball: srixon.png.f177578dda27a20ef80a0a8b1ae96e3b.png Z-Star Diamond
Pushcart: bagboy.jpg.0dda53b5175958e1b5686f22b90af744.jpg Nitron
Rangefinder: bushnell.jpg.c51debd06066fa243dea7f14d69a8dba.jpg Tour V5 Shift

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You'll definitely get away with some fat shots on a mat that you wouldn't on grass.  But having said that, any kind of swing practice you do can't be all bad.  I know it's a common saying that bad practice is worse than no practice, but that's not really applicable here.  Assuming you're working on solid fundamentals, I'd hit to my heart's content on the mats, knowing that you're getting away with misses that you wouldn't in real life.  And concentrate on KNOWING that you hit the ball solid - if you can come close to hitting the ball with near-perfect contact on a mat, you'll be fine when spring rolls around.  You just have to recognize by feel when you don't hit it perfect, and make adjustments where necessary.  Be slightly upset with yourself when you feel that clubhead vibrate on mis-hits, and work to make those shots the exception.  

 

And by the way, that's great progress going from the 110's to the 90's in scoring.  You're well on your way if you continue to work at it.

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As my old boss would say, both. Hitting into a net with mat is great to work on timing, keeping loose.  On grass range can visualize the shot, execute the shot, watch the results, commit to memory. Many an instructor recommends edges of ranges for variance in lies, feet placement. 

Ed Bailey-Mershon

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Matts are one of, if the, worst thing on which to practice, especially irons.  They give you a false sense of security in that a fat hit on mats seems ok because the club "bounces" off the concrete, or whatever is covering the artificial grass and that doesn't happen on real grass.  Not to mention it also does no good for your arms and elbows.  When mats look my only option I head for a practice sand trap and hit irons out of there.  It's not perfect but WAY better than a matt and if you hot behind the ball in a trap you'll know it - instantly.  It's too bad there aren't any grass practice areas near you but I'd drive a bit to get to one over mats, or chip and putt as one other poster mentioned.

Srixon z585 irons with Recoil senior shafts

Callaway Fusion driver and System III fairway woods

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It all depends on what you have available and time. Grass is preferred, but if I only used grass, I would swing my clubs a lot less often. I bought a mat, a net and a Garmin R10 that I use to practice on in my garage. It’s not perfect, but getting reps in on the mat in my garage has helped me to start and improve my swing. I think consistency is the most important thing, so if you can’t get to grass, it’s better to do mats than nothing at all.

Titleist Irons, Wedges, Balls, Scott putter, Taylormade Driver and 3 Wood

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5 minutes ago, Englhard said:

It all depends on what you have available and time. Grass is preferred, but if I only used grass, I would swing my clubs a lot less often. I bought a mat, a net and a Garmin R10 that I use to practice on in my garage. It’s not perfect, but getting reps in on the mat in my garage has helped me to start and improve my swing. I think consistency is the most important thing, so if you can’t get to grass, it’s better to do mats than nothing at all.

I have the same set up and use it to keep my golf muscles was getting sore between actual visits to the golf course to practice or play.  I’m 71 going on 72 and keeping the muscles loose and the swing with some consistence helps.  I’m not concern with distance on the mat practice, just ball flight and swing drills to maintain my game! ⛳

Driver: Callaway Rogue ST Max 10.5, set to 10.5°, R Flex

Fairway: Callaway Rogue ST Max 5W, 18°, R Flex

Hybrid: Callaway Apex 21 Pro, 3H, 20°, R Flex; Apex 21, 5H, set to 24°, R Flex

Irons 6-9, PW, GW:  0311P, Gen3, Graphite, R Flex

Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM8, 54° & 58°

Chipper: Ping ChipR, Black dot

Putter: Ping Heppler Fetch, set to 34"

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3 minutes ago, Tommy E said:

I have the same set up and use it to keep my golf muscles was getting sore between actual visits to the golf course to practice or play.  I’m 71 going on 72 and keeping the muscles loose and the swing with some consistence helps.  I’m not concern with distance on the mat practice, just ball flight and swing drills to maintain my game! ⛳

Yes, that’s the important part! It always pained me a little bit to do drills at the range when I was paying by bucket, but with an unlimited ball setup at home, I actually do drills now.

Titleist Irons, Wedges, Balls, Scott putter, Taylormade Driver and 3 Wood

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On 10/27/2023 at 3:49 AM, paul6057 said:

My coach had a drill where he put a bit of paper about 4 inches behind the ball. That will show you if you're too shallow and hitting the ball a bit fat, which as you say, you get away with on a mat, but is a disaster on grass.

If you’re shallow, you’re not hitting it fat.

everything everyone else has said. For me the main thing about mats is potential for injury. I’m fortunate to have grass whenever I want/need. However within walking distance is a public course with mats., so sometimes. I noticed how much mats on concrete messes up my elbows, wrists and hands. If I go, its for an intentional drill of only 40 balls and I’m finished. Can’t afford the lingering aches and pains of that constant practice.

At your current index, spending more time at a grass short game area would probably be more beneficial if improvement vs “grooving you swing” is the true goal.

Edited by Oudefart

Strange is just a different point of view

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Hi Everyone: I think the drills for ball first contact on a mat are all listed above. I note that several of you mentioned that mats may hurt your wrists or elbows. I feel compelled to remark that I had developed tendinitis in my elbow. I went to an ortho who injected cortisone. I stayed off playing for a month. Yet the first swing I took hurt. Ortho gave me another shot of cortisone. One month later I learned that the cortisone had dissolved several ligaments in my elbow, which then needed grafts. I was told then by several experts that this experience is not unusual bc the elbow capsule is so small. Condition is called cortisone toxicity. Be careful 

7 holes in one (true but statistically unlikely)

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In my opinion there are 3 thing you can work on on a driving range and for some mats are ok, for some not so much!

-If you work on swing mechanics, mats are fine (and you don't even need to hit a ball more than once every 4 or 5 shots

-if you work on trajectoires and distances, mats are very bad, they're robbing you of about 1000rpm of spin, giving you repeated flyers. Plus range balls don't spin/react like "proper balls"

-if you work on contact, the foam and plastic strands of fake grass rob you of some feel. Not too bad if you're playing blades, much worse if you play GI. However that can be addressed "easily" :

place the ball between two broken tees or other small objects leaving only a tiny bit of leeway for the head of the club to pass though. That's for heel-toe centering.

Place a towel 3 or 4 inches behind the ball and a broken bit of tee 4 inches after the ball and avoid touching the towel while clipping the broken tee off the mat .. that's for high/low centring and working on a downward angle of attack.

 

As stressed by some, hitting on mats may be quite detrimental to your elbows. I avoid hitting more than 20 balls per fortnight off mats and wear a padded elbow brace when I do ... 

Plus "practicing on the course" is better anyway if you can, since we play golf, not swing and a "good golfer" may go around 18 in 3 or 4 over par while never having a good swing or perfect contact while a mid handicap player may have only great swings and contacts while shooting 95...

Edited by Franc38

Aim small... pray to miss small

My bag: Ping hoofer lite. My driver: Nike Vapor Pro. 4w: Inesis 500. Hybrid: Nike Vapor Flex. Irons (4-PW): Takomo 301 combo on KBS tour X. Wedges: Vokey SM7 52° and 58°. Putter: Cleveland Classic HB1. Balls: Inesis Tour900 yellow.

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During the grass growing season, I am fotunate to have a driving range that offers both grass and mats. Naturally I drift toward the grass during those months and find that finding it in the dirt has been much more beneficial to my game. During the winter months I will gravitate to the mats, not to work on my game, but just to get outside and swing  bit.

Driver: Ping G430 SFT 10.5

Fairway Woods: Ping SFT G425 3-5-7

Irons;    Ping 425 4-LW

Putter:  Ping Sigma2 Anser Platinum

             Odyssey Tour#1 White Hot 

Ball:      Titleist Tour Speed

Bag:      Titleist

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For me there are several parameters involved to choose a surface I'll practice on. 99% of public driving ranges don't maintain the practice surface so grass is sparse. The better practice ranges are the higher end golf clubs that are usually private and they usually take good care of their practice facilities. Most driving ranges that use mats have the cheap kind where the ball ends up an inch lower due to the wear on the mat. The range I go to installed high quality mats over 10 years ago and they have the same feel now as when they were first installed. No dips where the clubs hit the mat. Those mats aren't cheap to buy $500-$1200 range. So most driving ranges go for the cheap mats. If I go to some other course or range and see they have these mats then I would most likely use them over their poor excuse for grass. With the high end mats, I like the consistency on every shot. Plus I don't have to search around every time I hit a ball for enough blades of grass to put a ball on!    I should also mention that the landing area I practice at is a lake with targets which makes it great to see your distance, so if you hit a fat shot the feel and distance will be off. 

Pete

In my      :ping-small: DLX Cart Bag:

Driver:    :ping-small: G425 LST, set to 9.0, graphite stiff-flex,  Tour S 65 

3W:          Taylormade Jetspeed Stiff Flex

2H:           Taylormade Jetspeed Regular Flex  ( yeah I know got it on sale and love it as is)

3H:           Taylormade RBZ stiff flex

Irons:        Tatlormade RBZ steel stiff flex

Wedges:  :ping-small: GMax, Yellow Dot, CVS 70 graphite, PW, UW & SW, Ping Glide Dyla-Wedge (white color code)

Putter:     Odessey 

Ball:       Titlest ProV1x

Shoes:   :footjoy-small:

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I turn my mat so I'm hitting off the front edge of it. I can hit down and through normally. I discovered trying this after developing tennis elbow. Also, the sound of a pure strike  I have discovered is elevated especially indoors.

Driver -Sim Max 9* Ventus Red S or Callaway Rogue ST Max Tensei Blue Raw 55S

3 Wood - TSI2 Kurogage S

3/4 Hybrid - Srixon ZX

Irons - PXG 0311XP 5-6 -, PXG 0311P 7-GW MMT 80S

Wedges - Haywood 48 bent to 50, 56 bent to 54, 60 bent to 58 KBS Tour 90 steel

Putter - TM Spider Tour or Oddessy Big-T #5 (350g)

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If no one has mentioned previously, another training aid is a Divot Board.  Check the Google.  Seems to be a price reduction going on.

Not necessary to use it for every shot; I use it more for a few drills.  It can definitely let one know if the current “feel” is correct, whether that feel is “I think I’m ok” or “dang, my shots feel heavy.” 

Irons: Cobra RadSpeed One Length
Driver: TaylorMade Stealth 2 Plus (Drinking the good wine now!)
3W: TaylorMade Stealth 2
Putter:  20 year old Odyssey
Goal:  Enjoy every practice session, every round.  Bonus:  Handicap creeps in good direction!

 

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14 minutes ago, JeffSL said:

If no one has mentioned previously, another training aid is a Divot Board.  Check the Google.  Seems to be a price reduction going on.

Not necessary to use it for every shot; I use it more for a few drills.  It can definitely let one know if the current “feel” is correct, whether that feel is “I think I’m ok” or “dang, my shots feel heavy.” 

$99 seems high for it… what’s your experience with it? For $50 it would be a no brainier. Here’s hoping for a good Black Friday discount…

Titleist Irons, Wedges, Balls, Scott putter, Taylormade Driver and 3 Wood

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My experience is in my post.  That’s about all I use it for.  Sadly, it points out how bad my swing still is!

Cost is usually a matter of perceived return.  I paid a bit more when I got mine a couple years ago.  No regrets.  Also, it’s there when friends are struggling and can show what turf contact looks like.

I use it in my sim.  Haven’t taken to the range as yet.

Irons: Cobra RadSpeed One Length
Driver: TaylorMade Stealth 2 Plus (Drinking the good wine now!)
3W: TaylorMade Stealth 2
Putter:  20 year old Odyssey
Goal:  Enjoy every practice session, every round.  Bonus:  Handicap creeps in good direction!

 

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Given winter coming if mats really screwed up your game we are all in trouble.  As others have stated mats will give you and advantage on fat shots as club will bounce a little.  Our local course has mats with brushes for hitting that in theory make it a little more realistic.  With mats you can still work on your swing which is better than doing nothing and off season with mats is great for learning to hit ball first on iron shots.       

Driver - 2023 Callaway Paradym 9.0, 3 Wood -2022 Rogue ST Max, 3 Hybrid Mavrik, 2017 X-forged 4-PW, Wedges Callaway 50-56-60, Putter Odyssey Toulon Chicago     

 

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I am a mats believer. I much prefer them to grass ranges...at least those around here...that are chewed up, uneven, and shaggy. 

I believe mats have helped me become a better ball striker, because I must hit the ball first. Through the bag on-course my divots are shallow to virtually non-existent. If I take a big divor, that's a mishit. 

Anyway, I am in the minority (as I am in my belief that beginners should be practicing with...if not playing with...forged blades).

Edited by Johnnyzen
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Try teeing up on a short tee, so the ball is about 1/4 inch above the mat.  Gives you room to get deep under the ball without jamming into the hardrubber and concrete.

Driver: PXG 0211, A flex Evnflo Riptide (2021). And an old Callaway 454 TI (2004) on regular flex.

3 W: Callaway Steelhead Xr A flex Tensei CK 55 gram. The rest are Regular flex.

5 W : Titleist TSi 1 on Aldila Ascent regular flex.

Driving Iron: Mizuno MP 18 MMC 3 18 degree, on Mamiya Recoil reg flex.

4 iron:  Mizuno Fly-Hi, 24 degree hybrid iron, GFF, even tho it is a hollow body iron.

6,7,8,9,wedge: Ping I 500, on Recoil reg flex shafts.

Gap wedges: 52 x 9 Mizuno forged S5, wedge shaft; 60 x 6 Mizuno forged T7, wedge shaft.

Sand: Old original Hogan Sure Out on Apex original shaft, probably 56 / 12.

Chipper:  (yep I carry a chipper) old Don Martin "Up n In" bronze? copper? 🙂

Putter: Just switched Jan 2024 to a Odyssey Stroke lab "R" Ball with the 2 piece, multi material shaft.🙃

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