The perfect home golf simulator mat will be the correct size for your simulator and have a soft and pure feel when struck. There may be markings to help with alignment. There may be extra grass textures attached. The perfect mat will be durable and will give the golfer extra confidence when he or she addresses the ball. It should allow a realistic strike and be soft enough to minimize injury from repetitive hits.
I was desperate to build my own home golf simulator. In the UK we have unpredictable weather conditions seemingly year round and I feel like I’m constantly frustrated I can’t get to the course to practice midweek after work. My garage didn’t have the necessary head room. If you read our About Us page, you’ll know about some of the challenges I had to encounter just to make my simulator in the barn. Whether you have a DIY build simulator in a barn, or a premium setup with unlimited space, the one piece of equipment all golfers need is a hitting mat.
Below, we examine 9 features you need to consider when buying your golf simulator mat. There is more to it than you think!
What makes a premium golf simulator mat?
Premium golf simulator mats can be surprisingly expensive. Some sell for several hundred dollars and above depending on the materials, design, and shipping costs. For those not accustomed to the intricacies of golf and golf simulators in particular, it is only when you come to look at the designs and features of mats that you appreciate these prices are realistic for what you’re getting.
The size of your mat and the size of your room
Golf simulator mats come in different sizes depending on the amount of space you can have available.
Ask yourself questions such as:
- Do you need a mat that caters for lefties? Some mats are larger in width and will easily do this. Some can just be switched around so that the teeing area is on the other side of the simulator setup.
- Will the target line of your mat (where your ball is) align with the centre of your impact screen? This is ideal but requires a good amount of room width. You’ll have to adjust your alignment if your target line is parallel to the right hand edge of your screen. We talk more about this in our dedicated post on room dimensions. If you have a narrow simulator room and have struggled with room width, check whether a wide mat will fit your space. I think it is unlikely to be so wide that it doesn’t actually fit in the room. However, width may be a consideration if you have other items such as swing cameras, mirrors and your computer table placed nearby.
- What about the length of your mat? Do you want it to stretch towards the screen and function also to catch balls bouncing back? Have you ever seen mats that double as putting surfaces?
- Do you intend to have a ball tray attached that increases the total width?
The answers to these questions may rule some hitting mats in and others out.
Most standard mats are around 4ft x 6ft. You can check out our table of recommended golf hitting mats here for more information. Do note that most of the manufacturers have a range of mat sizes so if you like the features of a particular brand they may well do a mat size that suits your setup.
Do you need to accommodate lefties?
As we describe above, some mats accommodate both left and right handed golfers. Other mats will need to be turned around so that the teeing area is suitable for left handers to use.
Turn your mat around
Many golf mats will allow you to simply turn the mat around and use the other side of the mat. With some mats, you can even use all 4 sides so that you get maximum durability out of your purchase.
If you’ve bought a mat with a feature such as high density turf for real tee placement (or rough texture turf) then you could simply turn it around so left handed golfers can benefit from these features. This is how the Cimarron Ultimate Golf Mat would be used for lefties.
Golf Simulator Mats that accommodate both left and right handers
Larger premium golf mats can accomodate both left and right handed golfers without having to be moved around. You may need a bit more width in your simulator for a mat like this.
In a simulator setup you will also have to consider where in your impact screen does the ‘target line’ for both the right handed and left handed golfers point? Does it point to the centre or one of the sides (see our diagrams earlier in the post).
If this doesn’t bother you then a mat accommodating all golfers is a great purchase.
Mats with a central hitting section
A way of getting around the problem of off centred aim whilst accommodating left handers s to have one hitting portion in the centre of the mat. These mats are again quite wide but will allow all golfers to have a centred target line. You can replace the modular hitting portion when it gets worn out and keep the rest of your mat which should a long time.
The True Strike Academy Mat is an excellent mat featuring a central hitting section.
What sort of surface texture do you want?
The type of material used to make a golf mat should be durable and provide a consistent strike.
Your options include standard fairway hitting turf (of which there are several premium brand varieties), high denisty hitting turf in which you can place a tee, mats with sections of rough incorporated, or a combination of the three.
The perfect mat should not be so hard that you’re hurting your hands or elbows or damaging your clubs when you hit the ball.
Your mat should not be so soft so that it feels like you’re hitting off a sodden wet fairway and taking a divot. It should give you realistic feedback when you hit it fat!
True Strike mats include a silicone gel layer under the hitting section of their mats. This is said to act just like normal grass turf to efficiently disperse the energy into the mat and not into the club head and shaft. True Strike says that this means you can practice for longer and have a lower chance of developing an injury.
The Cimarron Ultimate Golf Mat features three types of hitting turf giving you a very versatile mat. You have standard fairway turf, longer rough like turf and high density turf that will take a real tee for realistic drives!
Do you want to be able to tee up the ball?
Some golf simulator mats have holes for rubber tees to be placed, these mats are commonly used at the driving range. Large hitting mat manufacturers have developed their own specialized tees that can be placed within a short rubber tee.
Many golfers want to be able to place a plastic or wooden tee in their mat so they can hit their driver as they would on the course. This is a feature only some mats will accommodate.
Check out our dedicated post on which mats allow you to place real tees directly into the turf.
How durable is your golf simulator mat?
Golfing mats are priced differently depending on the materials used and the cost of production.
The last thing you want is to spend big on a mat that will not withstand pressures from your less than perfect strikes.
Many premium mats are graded for driving range (50,000 – 300,000 hits) use. This means it’s not just you hitting from them but a steady stream of golfers coming and going every day of the year. If you’re the only golfer using it at home, it should take you a long time to go through a premium mat.
Can you replace the hitting section only and save money?
Some of the modular designs will allow you to replace the hitting portion of the mat without replacing the whole thing. The stance section and frame of your mat should last you a lot longer than the hitting section.
Manufacturers such as True Strike allow you to purchase the hitting section of the mat with the silicone gel underlayer as a separate item so you can just slot in a new one when you’re ready.
Can you turn your mat round to make it more durable?
As we describe above in the section about accommodating left handers, you can simply turn around some mats and use another side for added durability.
The Net Return Pro Turf Mat is a large and very versatile mat. It can be turned around using all 4 sides to increase durability amongst a range of other features and benefits.
Do you want a mat with a particular design feature that will aid your swing?
There are golf mats that come with painted markings that aim to aid your swing. These are often in a circular arc to simulate a good swing path. These mats could help those fighting a significant slice or hook.
Do you want an ultra-portable mat?
Many leading golf mat manufacturers produce a small and portable version of their larger mats. These can be picked up and placed in the garden or even taken out in the car. They allow you to have both an indoor and an outdoor hitting area if you so wanted.
You could take your portable mat to the range to use in their outside area, taking advantage of the good weather while still using your premium hitting surface. I use mine to practice chipping outside in the garden!
Every keen golfer knows what it’s like trying to practice short game in the mud after heavy rain and getting dirt everywhere. In the UK winter the ground can be so wet it’s actually hard to practice properly.
You could take your portable mat with you to the short game area. I would have a small piece of tarpaulin or similar material to go underneath to keep it relatively clean. Then you could hit chip shots and pitches off your perfect hitting turf. Of course practicing on poor lies is also an important aspect of game improvement!
Portable mats tend to be cheaper than the full mats for obvious reasons. One of my favourite portable mats is the True Strike Portable Mat which features the silicone gel underlayer just like the larger True Strike mats.
Do you want to use your mat for putting?
There are golf simulator mats that double up as putting surfaces. Many golfers want to incorporate putting into their golf simulator and why wouldn’t you? Putting accounts for over 40% of the shots taken by the average golfer. Being able to adequately simulate putting wil make the scores you achieve on your simulator software so much more accurate too!
There are many ways of incorporating putting into a simulator build. This goal brings unique challenges with it. We have a dedicated post coming soon covering the ways this can be done.
Using your golf mat specifically for putting (and not having a separate surface as in the image above) can be done. Your golf mat should have a stimpmeter reading similar to the greens you’re used to. The golf mat would need to be big enough (or feature a run off portion in front of your simulator and hitting section).
You may need to cut a golf hole into the end of your mat.
One mat that does double up as a putting green is the Net Return Pro Turf Mat. This is a large mat that extends towards the impact screen.
Please keep an eye out for our dedicated post on this coming soon!
What about cheaper options?
I bought my first golf simulator mat from Amazon for about £80. I like it because it has a standard mat surface as well as two depths of ‘rough’. The rough is great because it also allows me to practice flop shots as I can get under the ball more easily than I could on a firm mat.
The downsides are that it is now showing signs of wear and tear and I was only using it for about 6 months before I upgraded. The turf wasn’t thick enough to allow a tee to be placed and less than perfect strikes would hurt my elbows and wrists.
You could ask your local driving range if they’re replacing any mats soon and whether you could take one of their old ones off their hands, but these would be well worn mats towards the end of their lives.
The cheapest option is to use a heavy off-cut piece of carpet but this wouldn’t be ideal for most golfers!
Golf Simulator Mat Accessories
There are a number of accessories available for golf mats that will bring your home simulator experience closer to that which you’d find at the driving range or on the course.
A semicircle rubber ball tray
All golfers will have used one of these at the driving range. They aren’t essential but will allow you to keep your golf balls and any little accessories next to you as you practice.
Why not add a little chipping net to your simulator set up. You can easily put it up when you want to practice short shots and store it away again afterwards. It can focus your practice of short shots too. Combine a chipping net with a golf mat with a rough texture turf like the Cimarron Ultimate Golf Mat and you can get some great home flop shot practice in!
Conclusion – Choosing the best mat for your simulator
Whether you are a recreational, intermediate or professional golfer, having a golf simulator hitting mat will allow you to improve your game. The technology used to design and manufacture a good mat provides a realistic grass on which to practice from the comfort of your home.
Even if you don’t complete the full simulator build, you’ll have a great mat on which you can practice your wedges or irons. Couple a good mat with a net and a portable launch monitor and you can still learn all your distances and do a full bag mapping and practice your swing. You don’t absolutely have to aim for the full projector/screen setup.
Consider the unpredictable weather conditions in your area, you may have a longer ‘off season’ than many other golfers you see on Youtube and TV. The longer off season means your rival club members will also be playing less golf. You can grab a competitive advantage by keeping your game sharp over the winter and practicing in the evenings.
You should see the golf mat as one of the most important purchases for your simulator build.
I hope you’ve found this post useful in your search for the perfect hitting mat. Please check out our related posts for more information!