Mat vs. Mat - Do Different Golf Mats Affect Ball Flight?


Ever wondered if the golf mat that you are hitting off has a effect on your ball flight? We put the 6 types of mats we have available at Kaizen Golf to the test using our Skytrak launch monitor and the results may surprise you.

Before you read on, what do you think the results will look like?

The Golf Mat Line Up

Kaizen Golf Golf Mat test

For the test, we used the 6 types of mats we have available in our online store. They represent a good cross-section of the mats that are suited to all budgets and usage scenarios. I don't want this to turn into an infomercial but I think it's important to at least cover off on the materials that are used for these mats:

  • Premium Large Golf Mat (2D) - this is what you will see at most higher-end driving ranges. Comes with 15mm nylon artificial turf and 15mm foam backing. 
  • 3 Layer Mat or commonly referred to as the 3D mat - this is very similar to the premium mat, however we've added a 10mm air cushion layer between the turf and the base to help dampen the impact on your joints. 
  • Tee Turf Mat - this is our flagship product and has a 35mm tee turf which not only lets you insert your own tee, but allows you to hit 'down and through' to provide more realistic turf interaction. 
  • Tri-turf mat
    • Fairway - 12mm fairway turf, 5mm EVA foam padding. Same turf used as our putting greens.
    • Rough - 35mm rough turf, 5mm EVA foam padding
    • Tee turf - 35mm tee turf, 5mm EVA foam padding. Same turf as the larger 1.5 tee turf mat.

For a full golf mat buying guide please refer to our article here.

Before we launch into the actual test, I want to also address the question of what was not tested.

Other mats

We intentionally did not test any cheap/thin mats as we discourage our customers buying these as they can lead to injury, especially when hitting from a hard surface.

With regards to the higher end mats, we definitely would like to do a follow up test with some mats such as the truestrike, fiberbuilt as well as the divot action mats.

Mat vs. Grass

Although not covered in this test, in general the theory is that the ball would tend to launch a bit lower and spin more from grass and therefore would tend to carry less. The most referenced article on this topic is the test done by trackman (link here if you are interested).  The Country Club Elite (CCE) mat tested against grass was effectively giving a semi-flyer lie.

Although I generally agree with the findings, coming from a statistics background, I do have some questions in terms of the error tolerance and sample size of the data used.

Test Methodology

Mat testing set up

Here's a rundown of how the test was conducted - I tried to keep things as constant as possible, but obviously the biggest variable apart from the mat was the guy swinging the golf club...

Balls Used - Srixon Z-Star XV Balls

Club - Wilson Staff FG-tour v6 7 Iron, Dynamic Gold s300 AMT shaft, 35 degrees loft, standard lie and length.

Data Collectoin

40 shots were taken for each mat. Generally a sample size of 30 is considered statistically significant. 

To try and eliminate any many of the variables as possible due to fatigue etc, the tests were done over 4 sessions with 10 shots recorded for each mat during each session (there was no way I could hit 240 balls in one session without my golf swing falling apart)

For each session, the order of mats being tested was reversed from the previous session, e.g. same mat tested last from the preceding session would be tested first for the following session. 

Severely heavy or thin shots were excluded (~3-5 per session). 

  • Thin shots - no point including those if the club doesn't even contact that mat. 
  • Severely fat shots - although slightly heavy shots were included, there were a few 'lay the sod' ones that were excluded. Those would only introduce noise to the data. 

Side note on fat shots - there was definitely more feedback from the tee turf mats when the shot was hit slightly on the heavy side, where the 2 layer and 3 layer mats felt a bit more 'bouncy'. 

Data points recorded - data points captured were launch angle, spin, ball speed, peak height and carry distance.

The Results

Ok, let's go through the stats. Note in the graphs, the bars represent averages and the 'whiskers' represent the standard deviation. 

Launch Angle  

Golf mat test launch angle

Launch angle table


  • Taking into consideration the average and standard deviation, shots from 2D, 3D Tee Turf (large and tri-turf) mats effectively had identical launch angles.
  • Shots from the fairway lie from the Tri Turf mat launched marginally lower. Given it has the tightest turf, this could potentially cause a lower strike - some would say this would be closer to a tightly mowed fairway (per trackman study)?
  • Lowest launch from the Rough section of the tri-turf  -  just like real rough? 

Ball Speed

Ball speed graph

Ball speed table

  • Again taking into consideration average and standard deviation, shots from all surfaces apart from the Rough were effectively the same. 
  • Much slower ball speed from the Rough, again no surprise. 

Back Spin

Spin graph

Spin table


  • Virtually the same spin rates from all turfs apart from the Rough, with the fairway and tee turfs arguably slightly higher, but not statistically significant. The slightly higher spin could be associated again with the lower strikes caused by the tighter turf.
  • The Rough produced the highest spin - I won't pretend I can explain this. My theories are that this was either the skytrak not being able to read shots when the ball is sitting down in the rough or the artificial turf was imparting more spin on the ball, bit like a bunker shot - just guesses. 

Peak Height

Peak height graph

Peak height table


  • Virtually the same peak height figures from all turfs apart from the Rough, with the fairway turf arguably producing a lower peak height, but not statistically significant, again consistent with lower strikes. 
  • The Rough produced much lower shots which should not be a surprise.

Carry Distance

Carry distance graph

Carry distance table


  • For this all important number, again virtually the same carry distances from all turfs apart from the Rough. It can be argued that the the fairway turf produced a slightly lower carry distance figure.
  • The Rough was definitely producing lower carry numbers. 

Summing Up 

After going through the results, my conclusion are:

  • In terms of purely the numbers, the 2 layer (2D), 3D and  tee turf  mats produced basically the same ball flight characteristics. So these should not produce discernible differences in simulation, coaching, or fitting scenarios with a launch monitor.  
  • The rough surface produced lower speed, height and carry distance. So it does a good job of simulating fairly heavy rough.
  • The fairway surface, due to it's tighter turf, caused slightly lower contact and therefore lower launch and higher spin. Thinking about the study from trackman, I do wonder if this type of mat would have produced similar results to real turf compared to the CCE. Though, this turf is a bit thinner, and with a relatively thin backing, it might not be ideal for golfers with steep swings, especially if they hit a lot of balls off hard surfaces. 

Beyond the Numbers

Apart from the stats, I think it's also important to quickly document how the mats 'felt' at impact. 

  • 2D - good strikes felt great, but I feedback from slightly heavy shots was not as distinct. 
  • 3D - felt similar as the 2D mats, but I could definitely feel a bit more forgiveness and give at impact.
  • Tee Turf (large & tri-turf) - definitely more of a glide through the turf rather than a bounce. However I definitely knew it when I hit it slightly fat. 
  • Fairway (from tri-turf) - impact felt cleaner and clippy.
  • Rough (from tri-turf) - this surface was tough work, but looking at my numbers, I did gain distance as I kept hitting, so I think it will help to practice using this surface for those shots out of the rough. 

What's Next

There are a couple of other things I would like to do down the track to compliment this test.

  • I would like to do in future are tests with mats at higher price points including truestrike, fiberbuilt as well a divot action mats. [EDIT: We have now tested the fiberbuilt mat - see our results here]
  • I would like to repeat the test with someone who has a steeper swing. I have a relatively shallow swing and don't take a big divot, so it would be interesting to see if we get similar results with someone who gets into the turf a bit more. 

So here's are the results of my Mat vs. Mat test. Was this what you expected?

If you are in the market for a golf mat, please consider checking out our range of Kaizen Golf Mats. At least you know exactly what they do :) 

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