I’m sure we’ve all practiced on an AstroTurf range or on those synthetic mats. But have you ever asked yourself, “can hitting off AstroTurf mats be bad for my game?”
Well, Lee Trevino answered this same question in an interview for Golf Digest when he said, “Green synthetic practice mats are the worst thing for your golf game that I know of. You can hit six inches behind the ball and not even know it, because the ball still gets airborne. Practice nets are awful, too.”
I totally agree with him. With his record as a six-time major champion, I think he knows a thing or two about a golf swing and quality practice. Going to a grass driving range may be hard for many people, as their local range may only have AstroTurf mats. Or maybe the weather may not permit golfers to practice on real grass. Still, if you can avoid AstroTurf ranges, then you should.
There are many disadvantages of practicing on an AstroTurf range. We’ve put together a list of some reasons why.
1. Hitting the mat before the ball
The main problem with AstroTurf mats is that you can get away with hitting the ball fat; you can hit the mat several inches behind the ball and still get it to launch in the air. This can be terrible for your swing if you have a tendency to hit the ball fat. The mats can trick you into thinking you’ve hit a perfect golf shot when you’ve actually hit the ground well before the ball. This becomes an even greater problem if you practice regularly on an AstroTurf range and you continue to groove that fat swing. Once you get out on the real course you won’t be as lucky with the outcome of your shots if you’re hitting the ground before the golf ball.
2. It’s hard to aim left or right
This is maybe more of a psychological problem, but it’s something that has definitely affected me. Have you ever set up to hit a draw or a fade, or to aim at a target to the left or right of the range, and when you set up it just doesn’t feel right? As if you are not aligned correctly to the target? This seems to have to do with the way ranges (and especially mats) are set up to have align aids and lines that point straight down the range. That’s something that doesn’t happen on grass, where you can align yourself to your chosen target. This relates much better to real course conditions.
3. Injury and tendinitis
There have been cases of impact-related injuries or tendinitis in the wrist and elbows when hitting off hard surfaced AstroTurf or golf mats. So if you feel like you have pain in your wrist, hands or elbows after you practice on the range, then maybe you should have some time off, or try to find softer grass practice ranges.
4. Tee shots
So I know what you’re thinking, “what about tee shots and those rubber tees you get on the driving range?” Hitting teed-up golf shots on an AstroTurf range is actually not much different then from a grass driving range. Although the rubber tees may cause a little more resistance than a standard wooden tee, this shouldn’t make you hit bad shots. You may lose a few yards, but that can be the case on a driving range anyway, as some of the balls can be a bit beaten up and are not necessarily the same standard as high-end golf balls you’d use during your round. One thing to watch out for is if you are using a specifically sized rubber tee. Make sure it’s the right fit for you. Don’t tee the ball any higher or lower than you would on the course.
I hope that’s answered a few questions concerning AstroTurf driving ranges, and why you should avoid them. But if you have to use one, bear in mind these points. Don’t create any bad habits or injuries.
— Joseph Mills