The pros and cons of hitting golf balls off mats
Is hitting off mats bad for your golf swing?
This is a question that arose while we were putting together a story about the revamped Mistwood Golf Dome in Bolingbrook.
My advice is to seek the advice of a club professional because there seems to be conflicting views on the issue.
A few things, however, seem clear:
• The quality of the mat is extremely important. Old, brittle mats with no "give" can cause a litany of problems, the biggest of which is risk of injury. On these mats your hands, wrists and shoulders absorb far more shock than when hitting off grass. Clubs can also be damaged.
• Players with steeper attack angles are at a higher risk for injury. Those with "sweeping" shots won't absorb as much shock.
• Some pros say you should only hit soft wedges, three-quarter irons and tee shots off mats.
"Mats are a necessary evil up here in our climate in the winter," said Cog Hill teaching pro Kevin Weeks, who is not a fan of fairway woods or hybrids off the mat. "(They do) mask issues because if you hit behind the ball it'll let you scoop it and you don't get the feedback of, 'Oh, I did something wrong.'
"No doubt that mats can do that. But it beats putting the clubs away for five months."
Andy Mickelson, Mistwood's Director of Golf, said he's seen no detrimental effects at their dome, where the mats feature an inch of foam and an extra quarter inch of turf.
"So the feel of the ball as it's being hit off the mat is probably a more real feel than you're going to get anywhere else," Mickelson said. "As far as hitting balls off the mats, we've had customers hitting balls every single day for hours on end and we haven't had any complaints about it.
"We make sure we are getting the absolute highest quality to make sure that type of stuff doesn't happen."
If you're still intrigued, Google: "Is hitting off mats bad for your swing" because there are plenty of articles and videos on the subject.