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Golfer standing on a Fiberbuilt golf hitting mat in an indoor golf simulator

Why Fiberbuilt Golf Hitting Mats Are a Game Changer for Indoor Golf Simulators

What you need to know ...

"There is only one company in the world that is making mats so good that even the most diehard mat hater will have no choice but to begrudgingly admit that these mats feel and behave just like real grass." — Marc, golf reviewer

A lot of golfers complain regularly about hitting off of mats.

Hang around a driving range in the non-peak season when it’s “mats only” and you’ll hear lots of gripes about how “this feels like I’m hitting off of concrete” or “mats make my wrists and elbows hurt” or “my distances are off when I hit off of mats” or “this isn’t realistic.”

Those kinds of complaints are commonplace. The consensus among many hardcore golfers is that mats suck.

But what if everyone’s got it all wrong?

What if I told you that the problem isn’t the golf mat, it’s that it’s a bad golf mat? Because that’s what most of them are.

There is only one company in the world that is making mats so good that even the most diehard mat hater will have no choice but to begrudgingly admit that these mats feel and behave just like real grass.

That company is Fiberbuilt out of North Carolina, near the golf mecca of Pinehurst.

And let me tell you, it’s no accident that these guys are making the best golf hitting mats. I caught up with them to walk through their process, and it became very clear very fast that they are obsessed with getting this right.

The whole idea of a better golf mat didn’t seem too terribly important until recently. Golfers put up with them when the ground was too wet or the grass was dormant, but it was always a temporary concern. But now, with so many golfers enjoying indoor simulator studios, having realistic, injury-preventive artificial turf is of year-round importance.

Another thing that many indoor golfers overlook is that the hitting mat is as important to getting accurate data as the golf launch monitor, something we’ll explore in depth in this post.

Point is, golf mats should have your attention. If you’re considering setting up a sim studio, you need to study this subject. The good news for you is that there’s only one right answer to the test. And after you read this, it should be obvious.

Let me make my case.

Fiberbuilt’s Scientific Study of Golf Mats

Nobody, and I do mean nobody, has gone to the lengths that Fiberbuilt has to create an ultimate artificial grass hitting surface.

When I said they are obsessed, I wasn’t joking at all.

“OK, maybe we’ve put a little too much thought into a golf mat,” said Scott Nichol, Fiberbuilt’s Director of Golf, poking fun at himself and his team for being so overly concerned with every detail that goes into something most people don’t even think about.

But if you hit off of a Fiberbuilt, especially if you hit hundreds or thousands of shots off of one and compare it to any other golf mat, you’ll be unbelievably grateful that there is a company so committed to golf mat quality.

To get to the point where they are now, where Fiberbuilt is the undisputed top-of-the-line golf mat, it took a lot of research and development.

Fiberbuilt golf mat showing the different layers

In 2012, Fiberbuilt conducted the first real, scientific study of how a golf ball performs when it's hit from a mat compared to real grass.

Nichol, a former golf teaching pro and training aid inventor and marketer, owned a Trackman.

“And I couldn’t figure out why I was hitting it shorter from the mat than I was from the grass,” he said. “So it led me down a bit of a rabbit hole to figure out how to mimic real grass conditions.”

Nichol and team used a Phantom camera, capable of incredibly high speed imaging without distortion, along with a golf launch monitor to record shots from tour professionals and high-level amateur golfers. They filmed club-ball impact at 100,000 frames per second, setting up the camera both to record 12 inches before contact and 12 inches after contact.

They were interested in studying club-turf interaction and the resulting golf launch monitor numbers. To understand what was happening, they measured:

  • Club speed
  • Ball speed
  • Smash factor
  • Spin rate
  • Launch angle

What they found is what they now refer to as “the mat effect.”

“What we learned is that, even though our whole life, we’ve been told to hit the ball and then the ground, that you don’t actually do that,” Nichol said. “The club is interacting with the turf between 1 and 3 inches before contact, depending on the club and the angle of attack. And that’s why clubs have bounce. So the mat effect happens in clubs with more bounce.”

Specifically, he said, from 7 iron down.

They found that if a mat is too hard, the club will skip up and you’ll make low-face contact, resulting in a low-launch, high-spin shot.

If the mat is too soft, your contact point is too high on the clubface, creating that high floating, high-launch, low-spin shot.

“In either case, it’s inaccurate,” Nichol said. “On 7 irons and down, we would see club speed, ball speed, and smash factor decrease, and we would see launch angle and spin rate either go up or down from optimal. But it was never optimal.”

In other words, at that point, no matter what type of golf mat you were using, your shots would not have accurately mimicked those you hit off of real grass.

So, with proof of a “mat effect,” the Fiberbuilt team set out to make a golf mat that would actually behave like real grass. They’ve been tinkering and tweaking ever since, always innovating and improving in their quest to simulate real grass conditions. And with their current top-line products, they’ve nailed it.

The Fiberbuilt Difference: Why Their Golf Mats Are the Best

If you’ve seen a Fiberbuilt mat, you’ve likely noticed that it sits a bit higher off the ground or floor than other golf mats. That’s because each Fiberbuilt mat has a layer of rubber tiles housed in a tray.

“The rubber foundation provides stability and configurability,” Nichol said. “Stability because we have weight and structure that’s going to house the mat as well as keep it in place. And configurability because they are made with different sized tiles so that we’re able to fit virtually any size space for any golfer’s needs.”

There are no tools required to assemble a Fiberbuilt mat. The rubber tiles connect together using push pins that you can easily secure with your hands. And once the rubber tiles and tray are assembled, it’s not going anywhere. You can swing as hard as you want, and you’re not going to cause the hitting mat to slide, which is not the case with many golf mats.

Hand showing how to assemble a Fiberbuilt golf mat

Most golf mats have foam underneath the hitting surface. But Nichol said that Fiberbuilt’s rubber foundation is much more forgiving and has a realistic feeling.

“When they’re using foam as the shock absorber, the challenge is that you need to glue the turf to the foam,” Nichol said. “And the glue has a Shore strength of steel. So you basically sandwiched your cushy foam and your cushy turf with a piece of steel. So when you’re hitting down and in, you’re now actually hitting into steel. That’s why most mats fail.”

Or, as Nichol’s friend Steve Pate from the Champions Tour told him, that’s why most mats are “like green painted concrete.”

Having a mat like a Fiberbuilt, that’s forgiving but not too soft or bouncy, is one of the biggest keys not just to realistic club-turf interaction but also injury prevention. This becomes especially important if you’re planning an indoor simulator studio where you’re going to hit shots year round. If you get the wrong kind of mat, you’re just begging for an eventual injury.

Another awesome advantage of the Fiberbuilt hitting mats and putting mats is that they won’t crease. Each mat includes a polyurethane backing that, even after being rolled for shipping, simply will not crease. Anyone who’s used a cheap golf mat knows of the frustration of creases. That’s a non-issue with Fiberbuilt.

And perhaps the coolest thing of all about Fiberbuilt is that they have multiple different hitting surfaces from which to choose.

Fiberbuilt Golf Hitting Mat Options

As you likely expect by now, Fiberbuilt has left no stone unturned in their R&D process to create the best and most realistic artificial grass. But they weren’t satisfied with just one kind. Instead, they give you choices.

Fiberbuilt Performance Turf Series

A golfer post-swing on a Fiberbuilt Performance Turf golf hitting mat

This is Fiberbuilt’s entry-level turf, but it’s far better than almost anything else you can find. If you don’t go any further than the Performance Series, you’ll still have a durable, realistic-performing, injury-preventive hitting mat.

Performance Turf Series mats use one uniform surface for both stance and hitting areas. The synthetic grass is designed to mimic the feel and behavior of a bentgrass fairway.

One nice advantage of the Performance Turf is that you can stick a real golf tee directly into the turf, rather than having to use a tee holder or cone-shaped hitting mat tee.

Fiberbuilt Grass Series

Woman swinging on a Fiberbuilt golf mat

The Grass Series mimics the feel of a zoysia grass fairway, where the ball will sit up a bit higher.

This is Fiberbuilt’s most durable hitting surface, and they guarantee up to 300,000 shots from the same divot area before you’ll need a replacement. With a standard-type golf mat, you’ll be lucky to hit 5,000 to 10,000 shots before it's worn out.

The Grass Series also offers the best injury prevention. The turf’s softer feel is much easier on your joints especially after regular use.

You can buy a Fiberbuilt mat that has Grass Series turf across the entire surface, or you can opt for a combo mat that includes a strip of Performance Turf so that you can practice shots off of two distinctly different surfaces.

Fiberbuilt Player Preferred Series


Image of a golfer getting ready to hit on a Fiberbuilt Player Preferred golf mat


For as great as the Performance Turf Series and Grass Series are, there is still a bit of mat effect that occurs. With the Performance Turf bentgrass-type surface, the ball tends to contact the clubface just a hair lower than optimal. And with the zoysia-type surface of the Grass Series, the ball tends to hit the clubface just a smidge too high.

But with the Player Preferred Series, which is designed to mimic bentgrass, you get as close to perfectly realistic as any golf hitting mat can provide.

“The Player Preferred Series is kind of like a performance tire,” Nichol explained. “It is all engineered for performance. But it might be slightly less durable because of the way we had to design it to get into that true bent fairway feeling.”

The Player Preferred Series mats include a vibration absorption layer — the same stuff used in bridge construction — in between the rubber foundation and the hitting surface. It absorbs 94.7 percent of clubhead vibration so that you get a very realistic feel and sound to go along with injury prevention.

With this mat, you can completely trust the numbers you’re getting from your golf launch monitor. They should be exactly the same as what you’d get hitting off of a bentgrass fairway. In other words, no mat effect whatsoever.

“We wanted to be able to say to our customers who have GCQuads, this is the number you’re getting no matter what,” Nichol said. “We see fitters and teaching pros all getting the exact same numbers that they’re looking for.”

Do You Need a Fiberbuilt Golf Hitting Mat?

Here’s the thing: A lot of golfers who are putting together indoor simulator studios think mostly in terms of their room size, the type of golf launch monitor they’re going to use, their impact screen and enclosure, and their projector. The hitting mat is often a total afterthought.

The problem is that if you get the wrong kind of hitting mat, you can’t really trust the numbers you’re getting from your golf launch monitor. That also means that when you’re playing simulator golf, the wrong kind of mat isn’t going to make your rounds realistic. With your mid-to-short irons, the ball won’t fly as far and it won’t spin the same way it would outdoors.

And all of that doesn’t even address the issue with injury possibilities when you use a cheap hitting mat.

Fiberbuilt has debunked the whole idea that hitting mats suck. All those concerns about injury and unrealistic ball performance are completely put to rest.

I tell everyone I know who is building an indoor golf space, “Don’t cheap out on the hitting mat. You’ll be sorry if you do.” And when they ask me, “What kind of mat should I get?,” the answer is very simple and always the same: “Get a Fiberbuilt. It’s the only way to go.”

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