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Why do Some Golf Ranges have Artifical Mats?

Artifical Turf on the Golf RangeHave you visited a golf course for the first time - expecting a great experience – only to see be asked to hit from artificial mats at the practice range?  You may feel like hitting from mats isn’t as nice as hitting from turf, but here are the reasons why you are asked to hit from mats and how you can practice effectively.

We all want to hit from the grass at a practice facility since golf is obviously played on grass.  However, all the wear and tear on a practice facility by golfers causes the turf to get worn and stressed.  Just like your lawn, the grass needs time to recover and grow back.  Often times at a practice facility, you will see only specific sections of the range open and may be asked to hit golf balls within the roped areas.  This is done to help spread the use over the entire practice area as well as to allow the turf recover and allow continued use of the grass.

You can pay attention to where you hit when practicing to do your part in helping with the recovery rate of the turf.  Do you hit from the same spot with each golf swing or move around from spot-to-spot?  If you take a divot, there is a preferred way to practice on the golf range.  For years golfers would hit from spots that wore the entire grass away in the concentrated area.  Then golfers were taught to spread the divot around in a scattered pattern, which created a series of divots with very little grass between them.

The proper way to practice when taking a divot is to place your ball at the back of the previous divot.  This creates a line for the divot and uses about 50 percent less turf than the scattered pattern divot.  This narrow line allows the grass to recover and re-grow much quicker using this method. (See photo)

Some practice facilities, however, aren’t large enough to support the continued use on the turf from sunrise to sunset, day after day.  This is likely when you will be asked to hit from artificial mats.  Many golfers feel this doesn’t allow you to take a divot and doesn’t feel authentic.  Again, you can use this practice method to “listen” for a good golf shot, rather than looking for a divot.Divot Patterns courtesy of USGA

When hitting from artificial mats, listen to the sound your club makes in your swing at impact.  Hopefully it’s a quiet “sweep” of the mat rather than a loud “thud” of the club hitting the mat.  If you are making constant “thuds” when hitting, your swing is too steep, causing you to literally HIT the mat vs. hitting the ball.  This is the main reason most golfers don’t like hitting from mats – they don’t fully understand how to sweep the ball off the mat – and try to hit at it.

Next time you visit the practice facility, pay attention to your practice wear pattern and sweep the ball off the mats if you are asked to hit from artificial turf.

(Picture Credit:  USGA.org)