Golf is one of those sports that has the power to encapsulate, and for many of its players, it quickly turns from weekend leisure to a straight up obsession. There are approximately 60 million golf players in the world, including recreational and professionals, and this number shows no signs of decreasing anytime soon.
So, what happens when winter comes, and all courses close, leaving crowds of hungry golfers asking for more? Well, many of them buy golf mats and stroke away in their garages, backyards, or sometimes even offices.
If you are a golf enthusiast who simply can’t leave his clubs alone during the cold season, it would be a great idea to look into the option of buying a golf mat. To help you choose, I have composed a list of reviews of the best golf mats on the market. Enjoy!
Why buy a golf mat?
There are several valid reasons why one should think about getting a golf mat to get through the winter.
First and foremost, any experienced golfer knows how easy it is to get rusty whenever you take some time off from the course. A golf mat gives you the possibility of practicing your strokes during the entire winter, so that you can not only maintain, but also improve your skills, and return the next season better than ever.
Second, golfing is a way of relaxation for a great majority of its enthusiasts, so if you’re feeling stressed, bored, or annoyed you can just pick up your club and play a bit in the comfort of your home or at the office to rid yourself of the negativity. It is convenient, effective, and time-saving, as there’s no need to drive to the nearest course just to take a breather.
Lastly, a golf mat is a perfect solution for golfers on a budget. It is needless to say that golf club memberships are not cheap by any stretch of the term, and you can spare quite a few pennies by not paying your fee for a month or two. Instead, practice on the mat, and when you really feel like hitting the course, go out and do it.
Types of mats
There are three main types of mats:
Normal size mat
Their size is usually 3’ x 5’ or 5’ x 5’. A player can stand on the mat and hit a ball with a full swing.
Hitting area mat
Their size is usually 1’ x 1’. These mats are pretty small and are not designed to be stood on, but only for hitting. They need a leveling mat.
Made using high-tech methods. After each hit, the mat will retract in order to replicate the feel of real grass.
What to consider when buying a golf mat?
Does owning a golf mat have benefits? Yes, no doubt about it.
Does the quality of the mat matter? Absolutely. Let me tell you why.
A good mat will allow you to improve drives, tees, etc. as it will behave like a genuine, grass surface replicating the golf course conditions. However, a poor-quality mat will not let you make progress, it will hinder the development of your skills and might even damage your equipment.
With that being said, let’s take a look at some crucial factors that you need to consider when buying a golf mat.
Now before getting a mat, you need to know how much space you've got available. You also need to know what clubs you intend to use, and then you will be ready pick a mat with the suitable size. The mat has to be big enough to provide you with room for swinging unless you want to be breaking stuff around the house. The sizes you'll most commonly encounter are 3'x 5' and 5' x 5'.
This factor will determine the comfort and the feel of the game, and you should, therefore, choose the one that suits the surface you play on. The top part is usually made from foam rubber with Astroturf, which makes them not as forgiving as real grass. The base materials include rubber and silicone, so let’s review each.
Rubber base – Dense, stable, and firm.
Silicone base – It is bouncier and gives off a more “realistic” feel than rubber. The benefit of using silicone mats is that the skills gained by practicing on them can be transferred more successfully to a real course.
This is a big one. Understand that a mat will have to take a lot of strikes, pressures, sunlight, sometimes rain, so it really needs to be durable. Check the material before buying and make sure that it is specifically designed to withstand a lot of “abuse” in the long run. A good way to know which mat is durable is to read about the experiences of others.
– As you know, tees take a lot of hits, especially during the practice of a beginner. Even if you are an experienced player, it is likely that you’ll break or damage plenty of tees in your golfing career, so the mat needs to allow you to replace them. In addition, as you get more skillful, your preference for tees will change to adapt to your stance and clubs.
As there is a great variety of different mats out there know that the design shouldn't be overlooked. One of the key design features is the thickness, and I go by the motto "the thicker, the better." Thick mats will be able to absorb more shock, and in return save your clubs from damage.
Besides this, pay attention to the quality of turf fillings. A bad filling will impede your game by sticking to the clubs' heads and thus hinder the quality of your strikes. In some cases, this might even scratch the club heads.
The more expensive the mat, the higher quality it will be, this is a universal rule and isn't surprising. Higher quality materials are more durable and have better performance, but they also cost more. Now, the question remains, should you go out of your way to buy an expensive mat?
The answer is – no, not right away. If you are a beginner or an intermediate player, the quality of the mat won’t matter so much as you will still be focusing on the basics such as striking technique. You don’t want to be tarnishing a pricy mat with your sloppy swings now, do you? The experienced players are the ones that can truly reap the benefits of a high-quality mat as their practice is more all about finesse and nuances.The bottom line is, go for a medium-priced mat if you are not a highly-skilled golfer, as it will give you the ability to build a solid foundation.
Top golf mats currently on the market
#1. XL Super Tee Golf Mat – For golfers of all levels at a reasonable price
If you’re not sure about which skill category you fall into your safest bet is to buy a mat that suits all levels. XL Super Tee Golf mat is just might be what you’re looking for.
This is a 36” x 60 “, full (normal) sized mat that will allow you to stand on it as you practice your strikes. It provides you with a good sense of what it feels like to be on real grass, which is always a bonus.
Talking about the material, it is made from crimped spring nylon which doesn’t fade nor bunch. It is very durable, so you'll be able to use it for a long time. Also, the damage to your expensive golf clubs will be minimized with this mat. However, the material does have a slight disadvantage – it is spongy, too spongy if you ask me. This shouldn’t be a big problem, but I think that a firmer mat would be better as it has a more realistic feel.
The mat can take tees of all sizes as long as they are wooden, so make sure to keep this in mind. As for the design, the mat is 1.250” thick, which is pretty decent and creates great shock absorption that will spare your wrists and elbows. Another positive factor of the design is its heaviness which prevents sliding.
When taking a fat shot on the XL Super Tee mat, it will reduce the speed of the club head as its fibers go deep down and let you hit the ball down. This is a great advantage compared to lower quality mats where turf springs and turns your swing into a mishit.
- 1Large size is good for players of all levels
- 2Can be rolled up for storing when not used
- 3It takes tees of all sizes
- 4Its thickness allows for good shock absorption
- 1Too spongy
#2. Country Club Elite Real Feel Golf Mat – A natural feel at a high price
Players who are looking for a product that can simulate an authentic feel of a golf course should certainly check out the Country Club Elite Real Feel golf mat. It is probably the closest thing to a real course that you’ll ever experience.
It is a normal sized, 5’ x 5’ mat which allows you to fully stand on it while practicing. You can use it indoors (in case you have enough space available), as well as outdoors. It is durable, sturdy and you can expect to use it for a long time.
So what makes this mat so special regarding the feel? The secret is in its Long Fiber system which doesn't resist the hit of the club but absorbs it. This eliminates the bounce that annoys oh so many golfers, and which is often experienced with low-quality mats.
As for the tees, the mat has a hole for them, but you can also stick them anywhere, directly into the mat’s material. Wooden tees are the way to go with this one. The Country Club Elite Real Feel mat is thick about 1.75” which is more than enough to absorb shocks and spare your equipment and joints.
The one negative thing that sort of negates its thickness is that it flattens with use, which will inevitably take away its feel and utility after a certain period.
All in all, this is a good choice for those willing to pitch in a few extra bucks since it isn't cheap.
- 1Goof, authentic feel of playing on grass
- 2There is no bounce when hitting
- 3Real, wooden tees can be used on it
- 4The material is durable and long lasting
- 2The mat starts to flatten with use
#3. Dura-Pro Residential Golf hitting mat – A multiple purpose golf mat.
Those in search of a residential mat that can be used both outdoors and indoors should take a look at Dura-Pro Residential Golf hitting mat. Some of its most popular characteristics are the fact that it is made without using any hazardous chemicals and is 100% US made.
Dura-Pro’s size is 5’ x 5’ which means that it is a fully sized mat that encompasses enough space for a person to stand on while striking. The combination of knitted nylon and a composite material makes it hard and fairly durable. The main reason for its durability is the process of thermal welding that was performed on it which welds the base and solidifies it so that the lamination or the glue don’t come off after a period of use.
Another interesting feature is the eight-year UV-coverage provided by the maker, as well as a neat ball tray attached to the side of the product.
The mat is ¾” thick which is significantly less compared to our two previous candidates, but it is still able to absorb shock pretty well. The reason for this might be the density of the mat, as its manufacturer claims that it is 30% higher than of other mats on the market.
One of the things this mat lacks is the ability to take divots as this would inevitably damage it. Another downside is the bottom which tends to wear out relatively fast. This is probably because of the thickness or the nature of the base’s material.
- 1Thermal welded, not glued
- 2It has a ball tray included
- 3The knitted nylon/composite material combination is durable
- 4Good price
- 1Cannot take divots; it will get damaged
- 2The bottom tends to wear out
- 3Only for residential purpose (not commercial)
#4. Truedays Golf Mat – An affordable option, perfect for beginners
Those who are just starting out with golf shouldn’t spend needless amounts of cash on an expensive, high-tech, high-quality mat. This is where Truedays Golf mat comes into play, as it will provide you with all you need to practice as a beginner.
This is a small, hitting area mat which means that you cannot stand on it, but only practice your striking. To be more precise, its size is 12” x 24”, but I feel as this is more than enough for a newbie. The problem with a mat of this size and (light) weight is that sometimes it tends to roll up, so you might need to figure out a way to hold its edges in place.
A rubber tee is already attached to the mat, so you will not need to spend extra on these little things.
The mat is made of sturdy rubber which ensures relatively high durability, and most importantly, it sticks to the surface so it will not slip or move as you play. The synthetic grass that composes the turf is pretty nice and creates a good feel. Truedays’ thickness is somewhere around an inch which is pretty good as it provides the player with necessary shock absorption and elasticity.
As its price is so low, you can’t expect stellar quality and this product will wear out after some time and a certain number of strokes. Nevertheless, it is still a great option for newcomers as you won’t have to feel bad about damaging the mat as you can easily get a new one.
- 1Very affordable
- 2The rubber base is good quality
- 3Sticks well to the surface and doesn’t slip
- 1The edges roll up
- 2It might wear out relatively soon
#5. FairwayPro Divot Simulator Golf Mat – Great for those who want to divot
This model is a bit different compared to the mats I’ve reviewed in this article so far. Its construction and abilities will appeal to those who like to divot, and it is certainly a unique creation in this category of products.
FairwayPro’s size is 23” x17” so this is a small mat that you cannot stand on. This is a divot simulator, meaning that it’s not simply a patch of fake grass made from rubber/silicone. It has a solid, stainless steel base that acts as a frame for the actual mat which slides when taking fat shots. This action simulates the feel of divots on real grass and allows you to practice freely, with no worry about damaging the surface. Now, you have to return the mat into its original position after each shot, and some folks may find this troublesome.
When it comes to tees, this mat can take them, especially the shorter ones (e.g., for irons). Taller tees like the ones for drives should also be able to stick into the surface but maybe not as effectively.
The design of the mat is very interesting. It has a stabilization panel which can be opened and closed, and there is also a handle on the side due to which this product resembles a suitcase. These features make the mat portable and easy to store.
Since his mat has so many moving parts, there is a risk of malfunction, so it might not appeal to some people because of this. Also, if the turf happens to suffer any damage (which isn’t very likely), it is replaceable.
- 1Portable and easy to store. You can carry it like a suitcase.
- 2Very forgiving.
- 3Suitable for right handed and left-handed individuals
- 4Relatively affordable
- 5The turf can be replaced
- 1Mat has to be pulled back into starting position after each strike
- 2There are many moving parts, so there is a risk of malfunction
So, now is the time for me to declare the winner of this roundup, and it is, without a doubt the XL Super Tee Golf mat. There are plenty of reasons for my decision with the main ones being its price and multi functionality.
It provides you with a good, durable surface for golfing no matter if you are a beginner trying to learn the basics or an advanced player looking to hone their skills even more. Its size is standard, and its design allows for forgiving shots, so there's nothing not to like here.
I hope that my article was of use to you. Even though my reviews are based on thorough research, I want you to know that my words are not gospel and if you happen to run into some other mats that seem good to you, try them out and see how they feel.
Let this article be a pointer to show you what features to pay attention to, more than a definitive guide to which mats you have to buy. That would be all for today, so, until next time –happy golfing!