Why Can't I Hit Off Golf Mats? — (Tips for Hitting Mats)

why can t i hit off golf mats for the answer to is hitting off mats bad for your game

Rubber golf mats are oftentimes the only available option at driving ranges. While nearly every golfer prefers to hit golf balls off of real grass, there are situations where it is necessary to use a rubber hitting mat to get some extra practice

Some golfers have found that it is much harder to make solid contact with the golf ball when using a hitting mat, especially those that tend to catch the ball a bit “fat.” There are certain tips and tricks that all golfers should use when practicing on rubber hitting mats to avoid club damage and injury.

why can t i hit off golf mats for the answer to is hitting off mats bad for your game

Why Can’t I Hit a Golf Ball Off a Mat?

why can t i hit a golf ball off a mat

Hitting a golf ball off of a mat involves a few key differences as opposed to hitting off of grass. When the club makes impact with a golf ball resting on grass, it continues on a downward trajectory and digs into the grass as the turf gives way to the clubhead.

Hitting Mats

When using an artificial mat, the golf club reacts differently with the surface since it is not able to dig into the ground. Instead, the club bounces back up off of the range mat.

These hitting mats are almost always made of rubber to allow for some bounce and shock absorption. 

Because the club bounces back off of the hitting mat,  more precise ball striking is required to make solid contact and send the ball down range in the desired direction. If the golfer does not make perfect contact, it is likely that the club will bounce up off of the mat early, and into the ball.

Rubber hitting mats are especially difficult to use for golfers who have a tendency to catch the ball a bit fat on impact. Golfers who catch the ball thin more often will have an easier time transitioning from real fairways to artificial hitting mats, as they “pick” the ball more cleanly.


tips for hitting off mats and which clubs to use on a hitting mat

When using a hitting mat, it is important not to swing as hard as possible. A smaller, controlled swing should be used, as the impact of the club hitting the mat can cause damage to the club, the golfer, or both.

Practice mats should be used to work on swing mechanics primarily, rather than the full golf swing. The golfer should also take a shorter and more controlled swing, and try to work on catching the ball “thinner” at impact.

The feeling of taking a divot should not be replicated when using a hitting mat, and a perfect shot off of a mat is one that picks the ball completely clean off of the mat’s surface.

Fairway woods and hybrids are usually suitable for mats, as they tend to glide across the surface.

Which Clubs To Use on a Hitting Mat

Depending on the amount of bounce in the sole of your clubs, it may be difficult to hit irons off of a hitting mat. This will also vary depending on the type of golfer you are, and how you swing the club.

Swing plane and angle of attack are huge factors when it comes to hitting mats. 

Practicing wedges with a hitting mat will translate the least to the actual golf course, as chipping is very dependent on feel and turf interaction. Wedges with a high bounce (larger sole plate) will not be reliable off of rubber mats, and wedges with a low bounce will tend to slide right under the ball.

One of the best tips for hitting off of a golf mat is to use them sparingly. Too much practice using artificial hitting mats will lead to a different swing motion and feel. Due to the different types of hitting surfaces, golfers often tend to “scoop” the ball on impact instead of “trapping” it. 

While a handful of practice sessions on rubber hitting mats will not change your swing overnight, extended practice over long periods of time will cause the golfer to change their natural impact angle of attack and swing path. 

Where Are Hitting Mats Found?

Rubber hitting mats are very common at driving ranges, and are usually the only option at more budget-conscious facilities. Almost every golfer prefers to hit off of real fairways, and better driving ranges will offer different patches of real fairways to be hit off of each day. 

Real fairway is significantly more expensive and difficult to maintain, as the fairway material itself is costly, as well as the labor and tools required to maintain the hitting area. The hitting area is moved forward or backward daily so that golfers will have a new patch of fairway material to hit on.

Some driving ranges will require golfers to use rubber hitting mats when they are installing new fairways or doing repairs to the driving range area. Other facilities will rotate the use of rubber hitting mats once a week, to give their grass areas a “break.”

There are some indoor and multi-level driving ranges like Topgolf where hitting off rubber hitting mats is the only option, and there is no real grass available. In these situations, it is important for golfers to take smaller swings and focus on crisp contact instead of power or speed. 

When using hitting mats, it is important to remember that the feeling of contact with the golf ball will be different compared to hitting a ball on the golf course. Rubber hitting mats are best used to focus on swing path, clubface, and other swing mechanics.


Is Hitting Off Mats Bad For Your Clubs

Some golfers refuse to use their own bag of clubs at facilities that only offer hitting mats, as it is possible to damage your golf club by using one, as opposed to a real fairway surface. 

The impact caused by the club coming into contact and bouncing back off of the rubber hitting mat can cause damage to the shaft, hosel, or club head over time. It is also possible for the paint to get scratched by abrasive artificial turf, especially with fairway woods and hybrids. 

Green Film on Clubs 

There is also a thin green film that can be transferred from the surface of the hitting mat to the sole of the golf club.

This green film usually develops in a striped pattern and is easily removed with a wet rag after a driving range session.

While these green scuff marks are not necessarily detrimental to the surface of the golf club, some golfers believe that cleaning the film off of the club will lead to scratches, and golfers with forged irons are especially careful around rubber mats.

FAQ Section

Is it easier to hit golf balls off a mat?

Most golfers find it more difficult to use a rubber mat, as the club does not dig into the turf like it does in a real fairway situation, and golfers who struggle with “fat shots” will have difficulty making solid contact using driving range mats.

Do golf mats hurt your game?

Getting used to the feeling of a rubber golf mat can be detrimental to a golfer’s game. Too much familiarity with a rubber mat can lead to a jarring transition when taking your game to a real golf course with real fairway, as the swing motion and impact angle is slightly different. 

Will hitting off mats hurt my game?

When used in moderation, golf mats are a great way to get in extra swings during bad weather or other circumstances where it’s not possible to golf on fairway. As long as you work in practice on real fairway as well, a rubber golf mat should not hurt your game too much.

How do you tee off a mat?

Rubber golf mats have holes where rubber tees are placed in lieu of regular golf tees. The main drawback of these rubber tees is that they cannot be adjusted, and certain driving ranges feature smaller tee holders that allow golfers to use regular tees. You can also purchase adjustable rubber tees at golf pro shops.

Can you hit a driver off the mat?

Yes, it is possible to use a driver on a rubber hitting mat and as long as you use a rubber tee to hit balls with your driver. In most cases, the driver head does not contact the artificial turf at all, making it very safe. Golfers can also elect to hit “driver off the deck,” though this is not recommended, as the driver is one of the most fragile clubs in the bag.

Do golf mats cause injury?

Swinging too hard on a rubber golf mat over an extended period of time can cause injury. Repeated impact with a rubber golf mat can cause stress on the joints including shoulders, elbows, wrists, and hands. Use the artificial hitting mats sparingly.

Conclusion: Research by Tellmemoregolf.com

black tell me more golf compressed logo with mottled background information for golfers

While rubber golf mats are not usually a golfer’s first choice when it comes to practice equipment, it is necessary to use them in some circumstances. By using artificial mats sparingly and focusing on crisp contact and swing mechanics, golfers can still get a great practice session in without having access to real fairway material. 

The team of experts at Tell Me More Golf encourage you to never take full swings when using rubber heading mats, and to instead focus on other parts of the swing like club path, face angle, alignment, and follow through.


Patrick Corley Tell Me More Golf Instructor and Coach
Patrick Corley
From a golf scholarship to a Southern California University, to a private golf coaching career and an instructor position at a nonprofit organization, I’m here to help you get better at golf! With my 50+ years of golf experience; I bring you Tell Me More Golf. A golf coaching website that helps your game with instructional golfing content that’s ultimately geared toward making you a better golfer and having more fun!
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