During a brutal winter with very little opportunity for golf outdoors, many players will turn to indoor driving ranges to get their golf fix. These indoor ranges provide a great opportunity to stay in golf shape and work on your golf game when you otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity. They do present one problem that I’m finding to be a common theme among golfers early in the golf season.
I’m sure many of you have dealt with this issue and the vast majority haven’t figured out why. What is this problem? Well many players who put in lots of work indoors, feeling like they are making progress feel a great sense of disappointment when they play their initial rounds outdoors. Why? It’s the transition from the indoor mats to actual living grass. I have found the artificial mat surface to be quite forgiving, which quickly leads to a false sense of solid contact. For example, when you strike behind the ball (fat shot) on a mat the club will often times bounce into the ball providing you with feel and look of a good golf shot. When this same strike occurs on the grass the leading edge of your club will cut into the turn and get the not so pleasant feeling and result of a fat golf shot.
Should I not use mats?
In no way am I trying to tell you to not practice during the off-season. Now, if you have a choice between grass and mats you’d be silly not to choose the grass as that’s where the actual game is played. The off-season provides a great opportunity to work on your game and that can certainly be done on a mat.
What should I do?
I’m gonna tackle this question two-fold. First, how to check if you’re being fooled by the mats. Second, what does it all mean and how do I fix it.
Like I said I don’t want you to not practice because you’re afraid of the mat. You just have to be smart about it and make sure you are consistently striking the ground in the same spot. For the best results that spot should be just in front of the ball. I’d encourage you to watch Episode 3 of Q&A with Josh to learn the importance of controlling your low point.
To check this put a towel down 6 inches behind the golf ball and hit your shot. Did the club strike the towel before the ball? If so, move the towel further back until you make a swing that does not contact the towel. Once you’ve found that spot start to work on bringing the towel closer and closer to the golf ball. This is a great test to ensure your game will hold up on the grass.
Now, that we’ve established how to ensure the mats are delivering us false results let’s talk about bringing our game back to life on the grass. I hope it’s clear that if you’re struggling to make that transition from mats to grass that it’s highly probable your not controlling your low point. The drill above is a great way to improve this on the mats or grass. Other methods can be found in Episode 1 of Q&A with Josh. Another place to research would be my post about a Centered Pivot. The important thing to note is that all of that off-season work you put in is certainly not lost. You just need to fine tune some things and become a better player for it. The best part, after reading this, is the mats will never full you again.
Let me hear from you…
Are you struggling to make the transition from mats to grass? Maybe you have a drill to share with everyone of how you overcame this struggle. Leave it in the comments below. I’d love to hear it and I know everyone else would too.