Top 4 Golf Practice Mats You Can Buy In 2020
Effective golf practice means having the right environment – and when you’re practicing off an actual course, this means surrounding yourself with the best tools available for your specific goals.
So, you’ve got your favorite size club, and perhaps you even have a simulator, launch monitor or a net. Now you’re going to need the perfect hitting mat to complete the experience. After all, a mat is the literal foundation of your stance, your swing and your game as a whole!
The Best Golf Mats
For as long as it has been around, SwingTurf’s focus has been on user experience. The company observed the shortcomings of other popular golf mat models and fixed them in their own mats to create the best golf mats possible – and it’s this practice that has made them a consumer favorite from the start. Think of these golf mats like the up-and-coming generation of home golf mat options and practice materials. They’re innovative, progressive, and ever-improving, and the dedication to leveling up in this way keeps the product offerings superior and the fans devoted.
The High Point
Balance – The standout feature of any SwingTurf hitting mat is the perfect middle ground it provides between a soft, overly-forgiving turf golf hitting surface and one that’s too firm and unyielding. According to Rain or Shine, customers consistently comment that SwingTurf golf mats have a real grass feel and give realistic shot feedback on every strike, even miss hits and fat shots, and that its surface is easier on the body in the long term than that of other golf mat models.
Every industry has its giants. For home golfing equipment, Fiberbuilt ranks among those trusted few brands, along with Country Club Elite. Their golf mats are used worldwide, and they offer golf mats and putting greens for a diverse array of size requirements and practice needs, from the golfers hitting balls in their garage to commercial golf course locations and driving ranges the world over.
The High Point
Tried-and-True Industry Standard – When selecting the best golf mat to practice with at home, it’s reassuring to know that the mat model you’ve chosen is a long-standing crowd favorite among passionate golfers. Such is the case with Fiberbuilt golf mats. Since 1995, Fiberbuilt has been a top golf mat brand in the industry, boasting a 300,000 Shot Guarantee for durability, which is a huge draw for those who feel the need to put in a lot of practice time on their mats. The listing also features specific models designed for various portability needs, both in size and in the build of the mat.
Besides their tough turf surface and ease on players’ joints, many of the Fiberbuilt golf mats are compatible with hitting simulators and launch monitors and come with size options, making them easy to incorporate into your existing setup, or just hook up to that one simulator model you’ve been eyeing.
Real Feel Country Club Elite
Country Club Elite continues to meet and exceed the quality standards at Rain or Shine Golf, and it’s no surprise. Every Real Feel golf mat has a strong reputation for a realistic fairway experience (if a little unforgiving on the joints at times) and even high-volume driving ranges get years of use out of their turf golf mats – so you, as a home user, can be sure your hitting mat will serve you well for a long time to come.
Consistent with their clout in the industry, this Real Feel golf mat is a showstopper, and incredibly popular with customers.
The High Point
Advanced Features – Another well-loved champion of the golf mat industry, Country Club Elite is another example of the way Real Feel continually churns out the best golf mats on the market. Where the Country Club Elite golf mat, in particular, is concerned, it’s the blend of Country Club Elite’s patented features that makes your experience unforgettable every time you step onto your Real Feel golf mat.
Where to begin? From No Bounce, which eliminates bounce on your mat for a realistic feel to Swing Down and Through and Takes a Real Tee, the Country Club Elite Real Feel mat has curated the most important parts of an efficient and authentic home golf practice and put them all into play in this hitting mat model. If you’re looking for a comprehensive experience with plenty of attention to detail, this is very likely the mat for you.
For those home golfers who have both quality and value at the top of their priority list, golf mats don’t get much better than TrueStrike. Every TrueStrike mat is made to stand up to 55,000 hits from an iron golf club, and these mats feature turf that’s made to hold a tee and a divot-simulating subsurface so you can swing comfortably and hit hard without feeling the impact in your arms and shoulders after you’re done.
Not to mention, TrueStrike mats offer users the versatility to practice indoors or outdoors, for around the same price point as a new golf club. This is an excellent feature for those without an indoor space well-suited to golf practice – or anyone who just feels like switching up the practice environment every now and again!
Particularly for the price, these mats have proven to be an excellent quality option for private users in the home and commercial facilities alike.
The High Point
Gel Layer – Where other golf mats will skimp on the protective rubber base layer between the turf and whatever surface you’ve placed your golf mat on, causing excess bouncing and lots of impact strain on your arms, each TrueStrike golf mat is made with a layer of gel cushion (rather than that typical hard rubber base) that effectively diffuses the energy from your strike and steers it safely away to prevent injury.
This layer also serves to allow you to hit down and through the artificial turf without hitting the surface below your golf mat for protection and just the right amount of give on the mat surface itself.
What Can a Mat Do for My Game?
Of course, the primary purpose of a hitting mat is to simulate the feel of the grass on the golf course, or the driving range, putting green, wherever you love to play the actual game. And, as any athlete knows, an authentic practice environment means that the skills you build at home will translate directly to your game – which is the point of practicing in the first place!
Frankly, in the age of abundant YouTube tutorials and the emerging technology available to the average golfer for the purposes of at-home practice, you can accomplish much of what you might hope to gain from expensive formal lessons from a personal coach in the comfort and privacy of your basement.
So then, beyond the realism factor, the ideal hitting mat will be durable enough to stand up to countless hours of hitting, designed to give you the best shot feedback possible, well-suited to the space you want to put it in, and fit comfortably in your budget.
Now, all of that probably sounds like a very tall order. And, indeed, compromising too much on any of these factors can have consequences to your golf game ranging from a delay in skill-building to decreased accuracy while you’re playing the actual game to minor injuries (more on that later)
Luckily, the market for hitting mats has expanded in recent years, and it’s easier than ever to find a setup that will meet your needs and elevate your golf game more than you thought possible.
But before you set off to browse for the perfect golf hitting mat, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind:
- Compatibility – First things first. Will you be hooking your new golf mat up to a simulator? Plenty of at-home golfing simulators do come with their own mat, but some golfers have preferences that require a separate purchase. That’s a perfectly valid choice, of course, just be sure that the golf mat you choose works with the simulator (or net, or general setup) that you plan to use! This is also an important component to keep in mind in terms of your preferred clubs, balls and tees. Not every mat will work with every tool, so be sure to match them up correctly before you make a purchase.
- Space – Where will you be placing your new hitting mat? Golf practice requires plenty of space, both in terms of the ceiling height you’ll need to execute that perfect golf swing, and plenty of elbow room so that you don’t feel too closed in – or break that brand-new vase your spouse brought home. With these things in mind, be sure you’ve got an area in your house that will work for your practice sessions. And if you’re planning to practice outdoors rather than inside, check to see that the golf mat you’re buying is compatible with outdoor use!
- Budget – Golf comes with lots of expenses, whether you choose to play on a golf course or driving range or simply practice at home. And the last thing you need is to fill up your online shopping cart with the best simulator setup, a new club, brand-new golf balls and then…find out that the golf mat you want is going to tip you over your budget. No stress, though. Quality golf mats can range from under $100 to over $1K, so you’re sure to be able to find a golf mat that works for you and your golfing goals. Just make sure you do your research!
What Makes a High-Quality Mat?
We’ve touched on the idea of buying a “high quality” golfing mat. But, if you’re not already well-versed in what constitutes high quality or desirable features in a golf mat, that term might not mean much to you! So, what is it that you should be looking for as you browse for the best golf mats around? While this is by no means a comprehensive list of considerations, these factors are a great starting place to get you oriented with some of the best mats on the market.
- Durability – Chances are, if you’re buying a golf mat for at-home practice, you’re planning to spend a good amount of time using it. Think about how many times you strike the turf when you play, and multiply that by the number of days in a given week, month, or year that you plan to practice. That’s a lot for your hitting mat to stand up to! And because your practice mat, like any other piece of equipment, is meant to be a long-term investment, you probably don’t want to drop a sizable amount of money on a golf mat that will wear out in 6 months or less. So, durability is key in the model you choose. A good way to determine how tough each mat is would be to read plenty of reviews before you buy. If the particular golf mat you’re looking at can’t stand up to lots of use, someone – or several someones – will likely say so in their review.
- Grip – This is an issue of convenience, but also of safety. No matter what surface you plan to set your golf mat on, you certainly don’t want the mat to slip forward or backward or crease up as you move and swing. If it does, you run the risk of not only spoiling your shot but of hurting yourself if you slip and fall. Look for golf mats with an underside surface that has plenty of grip or anti-slip features to make sure it’s going to stay where you put it and give you the smoothest, safest experience possible.
- Materials – Like most products, there’s a large spectrum of quality among golf mats based on the materials used by the manufacturer. While some of this comes down to personal preference (i.e. whether you need the most authentic turf feel or can stand to settle for a more synthetic surface), it’s also a matter of staying alert and discerning whether the mat has been constructed with the cheapest-available materials in the first place.
- Shock Absorption – Again, this point is a matter of safety, not just enjoyment. It also depends on what sort of golf player you are. Are you a shallow hitter, someone who lightly grazes the surface of the green to hit your ball? Then you may not need to worry as much (although it’s still important) about the thickness and shock absorption capacity of the practice mat you purchase. However, if you happen to be a player who strikes the turf hard and digs in with each hit, good density and the ability to absorb the impact is going to be a central priority for you. A golf mat that doesn’t absorb the shock of each hit well can send that force back into your hands, wrists, arms and shoulders, and put you at risk of injury. And since practice is meant to make you a better player rather than cripple you and take you out of the game entirely, keep a sharp eye on the shock absorption factor as you choose your practice mat. This is actually the subject of one of the major questions asked by home golfers the world over: is it bad to hit a golf ball off a mat? And although it’s more complicated than just “yes” or “no,” the answer mainly comes down to how well the golf mat – specifically, the hitting surface – handles shock, and thereby keeps you safe while you play.
- Ratings and Reviews – No online shopping experience, for any product, is complete without a thorough look at the review section and the overall rating. The experiences of users who tried your ideal golf mat before you can make the difference between a purchase you’re going to love and one that you may end up regretting. But going even further than just the reviews, it can be very helpful to verify that the practice mat you want has been tested by the company itself. Any sports equipment company worth its salt will verify the quality and user-friendliness of their products before they recommend them, and this is just one more way to be sure of what you’re getting before you spend money and time on it.
Buying the Mat That Comes with Your Simulator
As we mentioned before, many at-home golfing simulators come with their own hitting mat or even one or two additional options for flexibility. So, you might be wondering if going with the default is the best choice.
The answer depends on any specific qualities you like in your mats, unique needs you might have, and, of course, how much flex you have in your preferences, budget, and attention span as a buyer.
Let’s look at the main pros and cons:
- Convenience – If you’re looking to save time poring over tons of research on the best golf mat for you, and would prefer to trust the simulator package, this is a great option. You will get a hitting mat that you can be sure works with your system, and take on less risk than if you went rogue with your choice of hitting mats. And, considering what you may spend on a mat, you’ll want to be cautious not to spend the money without thinking all this through first.
- Limited Customization – It goes without saying that, by using the hitting mat that comes with your simulator model, you waive your opportunity to pick and choose every single feature of your home golf mat. And if there is a certain hitting surface material, feature, or other detail that’s important to you, you may want to hold on to that flexibility as you shop.
But what about buying a hitting mat independent to the rest of your golf mat setup?
- User Control – Following along with the theme of customization, independently purchasing a golf mat means that you can have any and all agency you need over the brand, the price, the style, the size, the hitting surface, and any indoor/outdoor capabilities of your hitting mat. Whether you want a 3 x 5 mat that feels like real grass or a 5 x 9 with that quality rubber base you love, you’ll be able to decide for yourself.
- Lack of Expertise – One of the factors that must be considered when you think about choosing your own golf mat is the possibility that the golf mat included in a particular home golfing setup may have been selected for a specific reason related to how the mat functions within the entire system. And if you make a different choice, you may miss out on some important functionality or a key part of the experience.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, Birdie Golf Pro is ready to breakdown the best mats you can buy today.
How to Make Your Own Golf Mat
Up to this point, we’ve been discussing the best mats available for home golfers to buy and use. But what options are there that might be more suitable to the tastes of the DIY-minded among us?
Building your own hitting mat certainly has its advantages – for one, you have completely unlimited options for customization. Want more padding and shock-absorbing power? You got it. Prefer a particular type of turf or other synthetic golf matting material for the hitting surface? You can easily add it to your golf mat setup. So, if you’re the type of person who likes to be able to dictate every detail of your experience, DIY golfing mats may be for you.
And of course, there are plenty of people in the world who just enjoy the chance to tackle a brand new craft or project, and save a little money in the process. It’s certainly possible to gather up the things you need to build your own mat at less cost than you might expect from a new mat being sold online. And if you’ve got a good eye and a steady hand with the toolbox, you can probably put your project together without sacrificing the quality and practice experience you’re ultimately trying to create.
Now that we know DIY is one option in the search for the best golf mats, let’s took at a few things we’ll need to keep in mind to take this approach.
What to Consider When Planning a Golf Mat
- Tools and Materials – Obviously, taking on any construction project yourself – golf-related or otherwise – means you’re going to have to know your way around some tools. Most DIY golf mat tutorials call for some type of wood with which to build a frame, carpet, turf or something similar to cover the whole hitting mat, and usually some type of cushion or padding in the middle to simulate the real grass feel of the fairway. With those materials in mind, you should also think about the fact that you’ll likely need a saw to cut the wood down to size, rulers and measuring tapes or potentially a level to get the dimensions right, and some kind of bonding agent, like a suitably strong glue, to stick your turf to the rest of the golf mat. Be sure you’re confident and comfortable with all these tools of the crafting trade before you get underway!
- Research Other Mats – One of the benefits of buying a hitting mat rather than building one is that the people behind the companies who build commercial golf mats have plenty of consumer data, professional researchers and information access at hand to ensure their golf mat is made to promote a great home golfing experience. Now, that’s not intended to turn you off to the idea of building your own golf mat – but let it motivate you to get online, feel out your options, and do some thorough research of your own before buying materials and finalizing your golf mat design. Which turf types or other surface materials seem to work for athletes similar to you and their golf hitting mats? Would you like to be able to use a rubber tee with your golf mat? Do you swing deep or shallow, and what type of cushion under the surface will help you practice safely and avoid injury while giving you the quality shot feedback and feel that you need? How important is the sensation of real grass in the turf you buy? And what size would be best for your space – do you need a 3 x 5, a 4 x 6, or a more luxurious 5 x 9? These are all useful questions to answer while you gather information and look through golf mats.
- Your personal goals – Looking past the fancy features and brand reputations of other golf mats, the best golf mat for you is the one that helps you towards your goals as an athlete. And having your priorities in order as you construct your own golf mat will help you craft an enjoyable and useful experience for yourself. So, think about what you need. Maybe you’re nursing an old wrist injury and want to practice often without hurting it worse. In that case, you’ll want to build a turf golf mat with the best give for your swing. Or you may just want to practice day in and day out without having to feel that you might wear your golf mat down. If so, you will likely want to prioritize a good, quality golf turf (or golf turf substitute) to make sure your hitting mat stays in good shape no matter how often you use it. The same goes for the golf equipment you already have. If you’ve got that one favorite golf club you want to use, it’s best that you find a golf mat material known to be compatible with that type of golf club. Be sure that you can use your favorite rubber tee, and so on.
Are Golf Mats Worth It?
Because even the most avid golfers sometimes zero in on the more minute details of the game and entirely tune out the mat or other surface they’re standing on, the vital importance of a quality hitting practice mat can go overlooked. And when it does, you run the risk of harming your game or yourself.
With that said, many home golfers still want to know whether a golf mat is even worth the investment.
The short answer?
Golf mats are truly a huge asset to those who really love the game of golf and want to improve quickly and with maximum flexibility. The best golf hitting mats can give you an accurate and helpful outlet through which to practice when you can’t get to an actual course to hit on real grass due to weather, scheduling, or any of the other obstacles of your daily life.
Are Mats Just for Pros?
No! It’s also worth mentioning that not every golfer is ready to commit to a costly country club membership and all the other expenses that generally come with active participation in golf.
For this demographic, a quality golf mat (even an expensive one) could, understandably, be a more realistic entry investment to build up some technique and judge whether or not they’d like to stick with golf in the long term.
No matter your experience level, repetition is key to mastery of almost any skill. With this in mind, having a quality turf golf mat at home is the best way to sharpen your swing and impress your buddies next time you get together (or just top your personal best)!