Recently, I received a question from my friend Doug about hitting of mats during the off season. He is fortunate to have a simulator close by, so he and his friends use it as a tune up for golf season. He mentioned that in the past when he can finally hit off grass that he thins the ball more often than he would like. He asked if I had any suggestions about how to avoid this challenge when transitioning from indoor to outdoor golf. It just so happens I do have a fix; at least one that works for me.
Like Doug, hitting off mats causes my overall swing challenges. I generally have an aggressive downswing to the ball. I love to take a divot and when I do (after the ball) I make the best contact. When using my DIY hitting mat, my club has a tendency to bounce off the wood/rug hitting area and I lose the feel of making solid strikes on a routine basis. When I transition to outdoor hitting off grass, I generally would use my irons as shovels. I would dig far too deep in the ground causing weak, fat contact.
To alleviate this issue I made a minor adjustment to swing pattern while hitting off a mat. I swing at 75% and try to sweep the ball off the hitting mat. These minor change helps me work on my rotation, club control, and impact area. I have found that by swinging with more control (75%) that I am able to consistently make solid contact. Additionally, it allows me to work on my rotation early in the indoor hitting season.
Sweeping the club along my mat benefits my later efforts off grass by ensuring I am hitting through the ball vice behind it. It is difficult to determine if I am hitting behind the ball on a mat because the club bounces up and still makes contact with the ball. By using a sweeping motion, I am able to hit the ball first. It really is an important adjustment for later practice off the grass.
The two changes I make when practicing off mats are transferable skills from indoor to outdoor practice. I developed my adjustments through many years of trial and error. Now that I have found a solution for my game, I lose less time knocking the rust off when spring golf starts.
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!