Golf Mat Vs Grass — Is There a Difference?

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Most golfers spend lots of time practicing to get better and lower their handicaps. When you’re on the golf course, you’re almost always hitting the golf ball off grass, unless you’re hitting the driver or on a golf mat tee. 

However, that’s often not the case on the driving range. Golf mats are often used on the range because less care is needed, but hitting golf balls on a mat is definitely not the same as on grass. In this article, we will share the differences between hitting golf balls on golf mats and grass, and explain why it may affect your game tremendously.

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Hitting Off Mats Vs Grass – What Are the Differences?

golf mat vs grass from tell me more golf with the advantages of both surfaces

Because golf mats and grass are different in almost every aspect possible, there will be big differences in hitting golf balls on them. These differences are shown in ball striking, spin rates, forgiveness, and sometimes distance. Now, we’ll go over the advantages and disadvantages of the two options.

Advantages of Golf Mats

  • Consistency

With a mat, you get the same lie every time. This allows you to practice golf without moving because of a divot. It’s also great when practicing with alignment sticks or other equipment, as you won’t have to readjust. Every time you hit a shot, the lie and circumstances are the same, making mats optimal for hitting tons of golf balls. 

  • No Care Needed 

There are no divots when you’re hitting off golf mats, which means there is little to no maintenance, at least on your part. This enables you to fully concentrate on your game, rather than worry that someone will have a hard time fixing the little or big divot you just took.

  • No Shock, No Pain

Golf mats have a smooth surface that ensures that the shock and vibration as a result of hitting remains significantly limited. Hard surfaces and traditional mats tend to generate vibrations that travel way up your arm and can bring about severe pain and injury. Playing on a golf mat will reduce the chances substantially. 

  • Portable Convenient

Golf mats are available in a variety of shapes and sizes. They can easily be set up in your office, living room, basement, garage, or whatever space you choose to play/practice golf. Therefore, rather than wait till the next golf season, roll out your golf mat and improve your skills at any time and place of your choosing. 

Disadvantages of Golf Mats

  • Hard on Your Body and Clubs

Golf mats are usually harder on the body than grass, and your golf clubs might wear down quicker. This is especially noticeable after a long range session when some golfers will experience soreness in the wrists. The steeper your swing is, the harder it will be on your body and golf clubs. 

  • Can Develop Bad Habits

Mats are way more forgiving than grass, no matter what club you use. Because you can’t dig into the mat and get stuck, a fat shot usually won’t be so bad as the golf clubhead will bounce off the mat and back into the ball. Since golf mats are less telling, you might develop a habit of hitting shots too fat, which will undoubtedly hurt your game out on the golf course.

The inability to dig into the mat and take a divot is also not ideal.

Excellent ball striking requires a divot across most clubs.

This can also develop a swing that’s not ideally suited for the golf course. The perfect lie mentioned above can also have negative impacts, since you’ll never have the same lie twice on the fairway. 

Advantages of Grass

  • Same as the Course

Hitting balls off grass is great as it’s the same feeling as on the course. This makes the jump from the range to the course more natural, and can help with less stress over shots. Perhaps the most significant challenge of golf is the mental aspect, so removing a potential distraction is always smart.

  • Easier on the Body 

Because the golf club can dig into the turf and doesn’t bluntly stop, hitting golf balls off grass is much easier on the entire body – especially the wrists. It’s also better for the golf clubs, and they will definitely experience less wear and tear on grass than on driving range mats.

  • Promotes Good Habits

All the best ball strikers in the world take significant divots with their irons, especially their short irons and wedges. This is because it allows for the most optimal ball strike, and consistency and distance as a result.

Grass enables you to take these divots, and since the strikes will feel purer, your swing will adapt accordingly. This is not the case when you’re hitting off mats, as a strike with an otherwise perfect divot will feel very heavy. In short: practicing on grass will make you a better ball striker. 

Disadvantages of Grass

  • Less Consistent Lies 

When you’re on the range and smashing dozens of golf balls, moving away from the ball to adjust position after taking a divot can get tedious. This becomes especially apparent when you’re using alignment aids of all sorts, as they’ll frequently have to be readjusted. 

  • Lots of Care Needed 

A proper strike will always come with a divot when hitting irons or fairway woods off the grass. This divot needs to be replaced with grass or seeds, which can be tedious. However, you rarely have to do this by yourself, but it’s still a job that must be done. Also, hitting a fat shot where you destroy the turf doesn’t feel very good.


Although no answer is the same for all golfers, you will probably benefit from practicing off grass instead of on golf mats. This is because it promotes good swing habits, including proper ball striking with a divot. Mats on the other hand can damage your ball striking and swing plane, as a steep swing that might work on the course might not work as well on the range mats.

If you opt to use a mat instead, pick the mat you’d want to use wisely! We believe that softer mats have a closer likeness to grass. Hard golf mats often make the club bounce whenever you strike a little behind the golf ball, thereby giving a flawed flight or shot outcome. On the other hand, you can try out a range of mats that you’ll use to make an informed decision on the one that resembles your regular golf course. You’re better off if you live close to a grass driving range that you have full access to. Also, ensure that your divot patterns are on point. This will make maintenance and repair smoother processes. 

At the end of the day, your preferred surface should be determined based on factors such as:

  • The kind of player you are (whether or not you’re strict on your hitting surfaces)
  • How often you practice
  • Personal injuries as a result of age, frequency of practice or play, swing mechanics, etc. 
  • How many people you play with (the more there are, the more space you’ll need!)
  • The complexity of your practice setup (most players tend to carry around nets, software packages, simulator screens, and other essential equipment).


Spin Off Mat Vs Grass – Is It the Same?

All golfers will experience different spin rates in different situations, but generally speaking, there will be quite a significant spin increase on real grass compared to a golf mat.

TrackMan, the company behind radar technology for monitoring impact, recently did a massive test when they compared data from grass vs mats.

They found that a scratch golfer’s 7 iron’s spin rate on a mat was 5100 RPM, while on grass it was over 7000. 

However, this might not always be the case for higher handicap golfers, as the strike isn’t always as pure. There was also a significantly higher launch, which can impact distances. 

Distance Off Mat Vs Grass – Is It the Same?

When TrackMan did a comprehensive test on data from a scratch golfer hitting balls off mats and grass, the two most tangible differences were in spin and launch, which both impacts distance considerably.

Because the spin was lower and the launch was higher on the mat, the golfer carried his 7 iron almost 8 yards further on a golf mat, so it’s safe to say there is a difference. However, remember that all golfers strike the ball differently, so this might not be the case for you

How Similar Are Golf Mats to Grass?

How similar golf mats are to natural grass depends on what you’re looking at. In this article, we’ve found that the biggest similarities and differences exist in the following areas: 

Stress on the Body 

Because you can’t take a divot on a golf mat and the club instead hits the mat and bounces, hitting lots of balls on mats can be hard on your body. Pain in the wrists is especially common, but it all depends on how steep your swing is – the steeper it is, the more stress will be put on your body.

The Habits They Form  

Another big factor when deciding whether to practice on grass or not is the habits the two options form. Since you can’t take a divot like you’re supposed to, only practicing on mats can make your ball striking worse. However, there’s nothing wrong with practicing driver on a mat because the club most often doesn’t touch the mat.

Distance and Spin Rate

When TrackMan tested all the data differences from hitting golf balls off mats vs real grass, there were significant differences in spin rate, launch height, and distance. However, golf is highly individual, so don’t always expect the same results as someone else got.

FAQ Section

Is hitting off a mat vs grass different? 

Yes, almost everything about hitting off a mat vs grass is different. The looks and feel, performance, and stress put on your body are very different. Perhaps the most essential difference is the swing habits they form, so if you want to be a good ball striker, consider practicing primarily on grass.

Furthermore, it’s worth noting that it’s impossible to take a divot from a mat. There’s bound to be a slight difference in how the golf club interacts with the quality of the hitting surface. As a result, the club will most likely bounce off the mat instead of going through it.

Does a golf ball go further off a mat or grass?

Nothing is the same between two golfers, and the performance of mats vs grass is the same. However, when TrackMan did a comprehensive test, the golf ball always carried further on mats than grass because of the lower spin and higher ball flight.

The ball had a better launch angle but suffered a slightly lower launch speed. 

Are all golfing mats the same? 

There are many different hitting mats available, and they all have different strengths and weaknesses. Some high-quality on the higher end will resemble grass performance and feel much better than others, while also being much better for the body and golf clubs.

Conclusion: Research by

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Golf is challenging, but everyone can improve at it by practicing regularly and in the right way. Many golf clubs offer grass ranges, but on some days they might only allow you to use the mats, and some driving ranges only have mats available at all times. 

Practicing on both will most likely improve your game, but because the golfing mats can create bad swing habits of poor ball striking and a flat golf swing, the team at TellMeMoreGolf recommends you to mainly practice on grass to perform well on the golf course.

Thank you for reading this article, and we wish you a fantastic and rewarding time out on the practice range and the course!


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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