In-depth Review | The Kaizen Golf Hitting Strip

From A DIY Project to the Finished Product

If you have been following our blogs and social media for a while, you would know that we really liked the concept behind the Divot Action Golf Mat. A golf mat that will give you the feel of taking a real divot and prevent the dreaded 'golfer's elbow' at the same time - what's not to like about that?

So ever since we made a DIY version of this mat (read our Blog article on this DIY project here) to validate those claims over a year ago, we have been busily working with our manufacturing team to produce a similar product for the Australian market.

See some photos below of our DIY Divot Action Mat

DIY Divot Action Golf Mat

DIY Divot Action Golf Mat

12 months and 5 prototypes later, after experimenting with different turf materials, supporting leg designs and lexan material thicknesses, we are excited to launch our very own Kaizen Golf Hitting Strip/Insert. See photo below for some of the iterative prototypes along the way.

Kaizen golf Hitting strip prototypes

We now believe that we have the right mix of feel and functionality for this product and in this post we want to provide a detailed review of the Kaizen Golf Hitting Strip.

What is a "Divot Style" Golf Insert/Strip?

For those who are not familiar with this style of product, here's a quick summary of what makes this design unique relative to more traditional golf mat designs.

The idea is pretty simple actually and it's quite ingenious - introducing... Lexan. Lexan is essentially a strong yet flexible polycarbonate/Perspex sheet, it can be used for making riot shields and with a film of laminate, can even be used for making bullet-proof windows. Stick a piece of artificial turf on top and suspend it ~10mm above ground with some foam 'legs' and you've got a hitting surface which will allow you to hit down and through with no bounce.

Given the benefit it offers and the fact that the materials are relatively easy to source, this style of golf mat / hitting strip has been a popular DIY project amongst golf simulator enthusiasts. There has been a number of "mass produced" versions released by very reputable retailers as well, especially in the US. 

Construction The Kaizen Hitting Strip 

So let's go through how the Kaizen Hitting Strip is put together.

Sticking to the tried and tested formula, our Kaizen Hitting Strip consists of 3 layers

  • Hitting Turf - we have gone with a 30cm x 60cm piece of our Fairway turf which is also featured on our large full size golf mats:
    • True ball flight numbers with golf simulator use. More traditional golf mats with thicker turf material may sometimes cause loss of spin resulting in 'flyers'. The reason for using the thicker turf material is to provided better padding and durability. Now that the shock absorption part is effectively provided by the lexan material and supporting legs, we can use a thinner material to prevent those flyer lies. See below for actual ball flight numbers with our Skytrak launch monitor. 
    • A better roll - by using what is essentially a putting surface, putting on the hitting hitting strip will be more accurate, especially if you are using a photo-based launch monitor which is only measuring the initial foot or so of the putt.
  • The Lexan - with a number of iterations, we've now dialled in the right thickness for the designed level of 'flex'. It is attached to the turf with super strong industrial grade glue. 
  • Supporting foam legs - the lexan and turf layers are then supported by 15mm thick foam "legs" to elevate the hitting strip above ground and give it space to flex down.
Kaizen Golf Hitting Strip

Key Features Tested

Below are key features that we thought were really important in a hitting strip and we were very pleased with how the production version of the hitting strip stacked up.

Hitting Through the Turf

This was the main thing to get right - through adjusting the thickness of the lexan and the height and positioning of the supporting legs, we have a product that we believe has the right level of flex. 

Testing it with shorter to mid irons, the club glided through the hitting strip and there was no crush and no bounce, which was exactly what we were after.

Nothing will feel exactly like taking a "dollar bill" divot on a lush fairway, but we reckon this hitting strip comes pretty close. Have a look at the video clip below showing how the hitting strip flexes down at the moment of impact. Can you hear your joints breathing a sigh of relief? 

 

Ball Flight Data

In addition, we wanted to ensure that the insert is able to produce ball flight characteristics that match what you'd get on the golf course. And we are very happy with results when we tested the product using our Skytrak launch monitor.

See a summary of 20 shots with my 8 iron below. Main numbers that we focused on where backspin and carry distance:

  • Backspin - really good backspin numbers averaging just below 6000rpm, which is where my 8 iron usually sits with other mats, if anything it's slightly higher which would actually better reflect on-course figures.
  • Carry distance average of 124m which is bang on for me, both with simulators and on course. 

Also screenshot below shows one of the better shots with an 8 iron.

Kaizen Golf Hitting Strip simulator numbers

Kaizen Golf Hitting Strip 8 iron with Skytrak

What About Fat Shots?

So does the mat also give good feedback when you hit behind the ball - yes it does. In the case of fat shots, the club will enter the turf early and therefore catch the ball higher on the face. The result will be lower spin and  lower ball speed numbers.

Screenshot below shows the result from a fat shot, and when you compare it to the screenshot above showing a good hit, you will see a big reduction in spin (6070rpm vs 5524rpm) as well as ball speed (105mph vs 97mph), therefore height (26m vs 19m) suffers and of course so does carry distance (131m vs 119m).

Those with a keen eye would also pick up an apparent "reduction" in clubhead speed - but of course those familiar with skytrak would know that clubhead speed is not measured by skytrak and is instead "calculated" using ball data and is not accurate. The club was 100% swung at the same speed.

In addition to ball flight characteristics, you can definitely hear more of the mat when you do catch it fat.

Kaizen Golf Hitting strip 8 iron fat shot

Sound

This was one of the areas where our original DIY prototype didn't perform very well. Impact sounded very "plasticky" - if you've used a lie board you will know what I mean. 

By properly gluing the turf onto the lexan sheet, we were able to get the sound to be much closer to hitting off a more traditional mat. 

You will still hear a bit of perspex if you hit severely behind the ball, but we think that's good feedback when it comes to fat shots. 

Usage Tips

As this is not a full sized mat that you can stand on, you will have to think about how it will fit within your set up. Here are some recommended ways to integrate it into your set up. This would also apply to any other types of inserts or hitting strips.

Sink it into the floor

Most golf simulator set ups now have some type of raised flooring, usually consisting of some foam matting/flooring at the bottom and then a layer of artificial turf on top, a hitting mat can then be recessed into the raised flooring. Not only does it really enhance the overall look of your set up, but it prevents the mat from slipping about as well.

This is the ideal set up for the hitting strip - just make a 30cm x 60cm cut out on your raised floor and simply insert the hitting strip.

Kaizen Golf Hitting insert cutout

This is the set up we have in our garage set up (aka Kaizen HQ) where we have the hitting strip inserted into a custom size putting green - it looks fantastic and the hitting strip sits securely in place shot after shot.

Kaizen Golf Hitting Strip

Use a Stance Mat

Alternatively, you can fairly easily integrate it into a large golf hitting mat. Again just make a 30cm x 60cm cut out and insert the hitting strip. This would suit more non-permanent or outdoor set ups.

Check out our range of large mats here if you are looking for options for stance mats.

Kaizen Golf Hitting Strip with Stance Mat

Use as a Portable Mat

If the previous 2 options don't work for you, you can use the product as a portable mat. Downsides with this option are that:

  • You won't be standing level with the mat, but you can overcome this by standing on a separate stance mat
  • The insert will move after each shot - as by design the insert doesn't have a lot of contact with the ground, it will tend to move about after each shot. So it could get a little annoying.
  • If you tend to catch the ball heavy, there is a risk that you will catch the back of the mat. This may cause the lexan layer to break or for the turf to separate away from the lexan layer. 

Final Thoughts

Overall we really believe in what the Kaizen Golf Hitting Strip has to offer. It is a relatively inexpensive product that provides a realistic "through the turf" feel at impact without causing unnecessary stress to your muscles and joints. 

We've invested a lot of time to get the product right through a number of iterations and we would love for you to give it a try.

If you would like to find out more about this product or if you have bought one and would like to provide us some feedback, please feel free to contact us, we would be grateful for your questions and feedback!  

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2 comments

Hi Mathew, thanks for leaving a comment! Yes you can but the issue will be that it will sit slightly lower than the Tee Turf Mat.

Kaizen Golf

Can this be cut into the Tee Turf Hitting Mat?

Mathew McAuliffe

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