Does Hitting Shots Off Golf Mats Change Your Clubhead Specs?

If you're anything more than an infrequent recreational golfer, you've probably, at some point, visited a driving range that requires golfers to hit off artificial turf mats rather than real grass. And you might have heard that hitting shots off golf mats rather than real grass can change the specs of your irons — specifically loft and lie. Is that true?

The short answer is yes, but it comes with caveats. So let's run through how iron specs can be affected by golf mats, and whether you need to worry about that.

First, understand that even hitting shots off real turf can — if you hit enough shots over time — have a very minor effect on your iron's loft and lie. But we're talking a lot of golf shots. And causing very minor changes to clubhead specs is something far less likely to happen on good turf than if you are hitting shots on hard, compacted turf. Still, if you hit thousands of golf balls off real, but firm, turfgrass, your iron specs can be affected.

Golf irons are designed to dig. They work best by contacting the golf ball first, on a descending angle, with the swing continuing and bottoming out by entering the grass itself. The result is a divot, which is the (hopefully) thin layer of turf your iron peels off the ground as your swing bottoms out after hitting the golf ball.

On an artificial turf golf mat, there are no divots. There is no way for your iron to dig into the grass/soil because there is no grass/soil. So it's a much harder impact on your golf irons when that club strikes the surface of the golf mat.

And those impacts, over time, can, in fact, cause the loft angle and lie angle of your irons to very slightly change. A few things to keep in mind, however:

  1. Such an effect is much more likely with forged irons than with cast irons.
  2. The effect is much more likely for a poor golfer than a good one, the number of shots played being equal.
  3. The effect is much more likely the more balls you play off golf mats, but, even in worst-case scenarios, probably requires the number of strokes to be in the upper hundreds or even thousands.
  4. The effect is minor, but is cumulative, and over time can cause problems with accuracy if your clubs are getting bent by those impacts on the golf mat.
Do you need to care? If you are a serious golfer who is dedicated to improving your game, definitely. But if you are a serious golfer dedicated to improving your game, you probably are already paying close attention to your clubs. If you fear your irons' specs may have been affected, have their loft and lie regularly checked by a clubfitter. Most iron heads can be bent back to the proper angles by a clubfitter.

Also note that hitting off golf mats (and many golfers live in places where there may not be another option) can, over time, because of those harder impacts, cause hand, wrist, and/or forearm issues for the golfer.

The good news is that the quality of golf mats is improving over time. Mats with some built-in give are made, and hitting off those mitigates some of the issues discussed above.

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