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Posted by Bob Gotfreddson on 7/25/2019
The course here in Ponte Vedra Beach where I play most of my golf foolishly insists that we practice on AstroTurf mats two out of the six days (30%) the practice tee is open. So that means that on those days I cannot practice and if I chose to play, I am not able to warm-up. It is not worth the subsequent discomfort in my elbows, knees, and wrists…not to mention the potential damage to my irons.
Lets first talk about the way a golf ball reacts when it is hit by an iron or fairway wood off a mat. As most of us know you can hit several inches behind the ball and still get it up in the air. This can be terrible for someone who out on the course will consistently hit fat shots. The mats are tricking you into believing you are making progress although in reality your club is actually “bouncing” into the ball. Lee Trevino is quoted in Golf Digest as saying “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”. Don’t grove a bad swing on matts!
Let’s see what the science says about hitting a 7-iron off a mat vs. grass. According to Trackman data ball speed is about the same but launch angle will increase by 3-5 degrees and spin rate will increase by a whopping 2,000 rpm’s. These factors will result in increased carry of 7-10 yards! Might not want to be fitted for clubs while hitting off a mat because once you hit them on a course there is no chance ball flight results will be comparable.
Practicing on artificial turf will result in equipment deterioration, especially the lie and loft of your irons. Forged irons are much softer than a cast clubhead and therefore are more vulnerable to damage. Any club that is constantly used off mats should be checked to see if the loft and lie specs have been altered. Golf is hard enough without having a set of clubs that are not consistent and reliable!
Hitting from a golf mat could lead to serious, life-long injuries. When you hit from a hard surface or AstroTurf, you may be subjecting your body to a shock that over time can lead to pain, inflammation, joint troubles and even long-term injuries. You would never consider hitting 200 balls off hard-pan or a cart path. The new softer mats do offer a more forgiving base which may reduce injury (not ball flight) but usually the mat you stand on is the same old hard AstroTurf which will not give and will lead to pain to your knees and hips. Just ask a retired football player what they think of AstroTurf.
Studies have confirmed “impact-related” injuries or tendinitis in the wrist and elbows may be triggered when hitting off hard surfaced AstroTurf golf mats. Medical professionals recommend that if you have pain in your wrist, hands or elbows after you practice on the range, apply ice to alleviate the swelling. Take time off and by all means find some soft grass once you are able to practice again.
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