All golfers are told to practice their putting as much as possible.
Putting strokes make up roughly 40% of any golfers score no matter their ability so it makes sense.
But finding time to get to a practice green isn’t always easy, especially in and amongst a busy family life, so is a putting mat a worthwhile solution?
Putting mats are worth it because they give better feedback on your putting stroke. The weave and speed of home carpets make mats a better option for improving the two fundamentals of putting – straight hitting and distance control. Quality mats are available for under $100 making them great value.
Putting mats will never perfectly imitate a real putting green however.
Not all mats will enable you to practice both of the putting fundamentals also and there are shortcomings to some putting mats.
But we’ll take you through these in this article and explain why a putting mat is a great way to practice your putting at home or in the office.
We’ll also let you know what the results were of our testing of some of the most popular mats on the market.
Do Putting Mats Help? There Are a Bunch of Benefits
Learning to master the two fundamentals of putting – hitting the ball straight and the correct distance – requires a consistent and solid strike from the middle of putter club face.
And the way you achieve that is through an excellent putting stroke.
The good news also is that the best place to practice your putting stroke is in the comfort of your own home for the simple reason that indoors the conditions are totally controlled.
“The best place to practice your putting stroke is at home, not on the putting green.”Martin Hall, Host of School of Golf on Golf Channel
Putting mats used at home are therefore excellent tools for practicing your putting.
The style and quality of the mat you choose will dictate how effective it is for improving your putting, and putting mats by themselves will not of course be solely responsible, for perfecting your putting stroke.
But putting mats help because they deliver the following four benefits and advantages for golfers looking to become a better putter.
Hitting balls over and over is necessary for game improvement in nearly every sport.
And if ever there is a sport where lots of practice is required to improve it is golf.
It’s therefore straight forward enough that if you have a putting mat available to you at home you will practice your putting more often.
It’s highly unusual for golfers to head up to the course to just practice their putting as if you’ve made the effort to head to the course you may as well hit a few balls, right?
Very few of us are lucky enough to have a golf simulator at home to enable us to hit balls so having a putting mat at home is most likely to mean an exclusive focus on practicing your putting more often.
2. Improved putting stroke
Breaking down repetition and practice further, the more you practice your putting with easy access to a putting mat the more your putting stroke – the ultimate determinant of good putting – should improve.
Whether you improve or not of course depends on whether you are practicing the correct things but putting mats can help with your putting drills also.
There are many mats with lines and markers on them to help you with your alignment and to track your ball path which will enable you to form more consistent good putting habits.
Some of the putting mat manufacturers also provide access to loads of great drills on their associated mobile phone apps to help make your putting practice both better and more fun.
3. Putting mats are better than home carpets
Although the best place to practice your putting stroke is in the controlled conditions of your own home, or anywhere indoors, practicing your putting on home carpets has some clear downsides.
On standard home carpets the ball is likely to weave and bobble even when you hit a very true stroke.
As a result you can never be certain if it was you or your carpet which made the ball go offline. Something else which is affected when you are putting on your carpet is distance.
Despite how perfect your carpet may look the weaves and bobbles in it mean it is highly unlikely to be a true surface and therefore not a good surface for practice your putting distance control skills.
Thick carpets will slow the ball down too quickly so your sense of speed and timing could go off.
And believe it or not, if the nap of your carpet is tight it is likely to be so fast it would be deemed unsuitably quick for a PGA Tour Event!
|PUTTING SURFACE||STIMPMETER SPEED READING|
|PGA Tour Event||12ft|
|US Open / USPGA||13-14ft|
|Masters||up to 15ft|
Beyond the technical improvements that can be made by practicing on a putting mat, repetition and greater success in finding the hole can positively impact’s a player’s confidence.
Practice has been proven to link to both improving quality and building confidence.
And as any golfer will tell you a bit of confidence when standing over a 5-foot putt never goes astray.
Putting in particular is a hugely mentally demanding part of golf, requiring a high level of skill, focus and maintenance of confidence following one poor putt or even a string of them.
Anything that helps build confidence on the putting green can only be a good thing therefore and consistently practicing your stroke and distance control on a putting mat will undoubtedly assist with that.
While putting mats do offer the benefits and advantages outlined above they cannot replicate exactly the conditions of a real green.
Different types of putting mats therefore have different features to help you improve your putting.
Not all of these features are helpful however and can indeed negatively affect your putting in the long run.
To avoid this we’ll now take a look at the different types of putting mats that are available on the market and what factors you should be considering when looking at buying one.
Putting Mat Buying Factors
Putting mats come in many different shapes and sizes, are designed to meet the needs of different players, and are available with a range of different features.
Not all of these features are necessarily good for your putting however so it’s important to consider the following range of factors when buying a putting mat:
- Putting surface quality – The quality and type of surface of any putting mat is the single most important factor when it comes to buying a putting mat. Poorer quality mats are often bad imitations of a putting surface using types of materials which react nothing like a real green. The best putting mats, by comparison, will deliver a true roll on your practice putts and mimic the surface of a putting green as closely as possible. They also will come with a specific stimp rating to show how fast the surface is so you can consider whether you want to match the stimp measurement of your mat to your home course.
- Size – Longer and broader mats are more versatile and enable players to practice putts of various lengths and angles to more closely replicate what they will face on the course. Reducing your number of 3 putts has been proven to be the quickest way to shave strokes off the score for amateur golfers. So if you are lucky enough to have space to have a large putting mat – anything from 16ft to 30ft is the absolute ideal for amateurs according to the stats gurus due to the number of times the average player 3 putts from those distances – you can work on both the fundamentals of putting – hitting the ball straight and the correct distance. If you’re stuck for space however there are many smaller mats available which are ideal for tight spaces and indeed better for storing and transporting around with you. Smaller mats clearly do restrict practice to short putts but all golfers know how important short putts are so shorter mats can easily help you to improve from short distances and make big improvements to your putting numbers.
- Storage and durability – It is likely for many golfers that at some point your putting mat will need to be stowed away in a closet somewhere. You may also want to take it with you wherever you go, whether that be to the office of on trips, to keep practicing your putting. If storage is a factor in your buying decision you will want a mat that rolls up tightly and is easy to transport. This design also helps you set it up much more easily each time you take it out of the cupboard. And if you are rolling your mat up regularly and taking it various places you will also want to ensure it is of a good quality durability. Investing in a good quality and durable putting mat will stop it breaking down and if well maintained should last you for years.
- Features – Designated lines and grid markings on a putting mat can be very helpful to use as guides for training correct alignment and a consistent stroke. It’s worth noting also though that some can find too many lines and markings distracting and prefer to practice on much simpler or non-lined mats. Some golfers also prefer to simply take a permanent marker and mark their own targets and lines on non-lined mats. Different putting mats can also incorporate ridges and inclines in an attempt to simulate breaks and make practice more challenging and interesting. Some mats have quite severe bumps and ridges which although fun to play around on are unlikely to be found on a real putting green and therefore not particularly useful for quality practice. Other mat makers add ‘bunkers’ and even ‘hazards’ to try and improve putting accuracy. While these features may make your putting practice sessions more fun their value is a bit more questionable. Anything unrealistic on your putting mat has the potential to negatively impact your putting practice so always try and look for a mat that best imitates the conditions of a real putting green, both in green speed and inclines.
- Price / Value for money – The final factor in a buying decision of any putting mat is obviously price and whether it represents value for money. Whilst some of the top range and largest putting mats can be many hundreds of dollars there are excellent putting mats available both just under and just over the $100 mark. What represents value for money for one person is clearly different from individual to individual but there should be an excellent option available in your price range. The main thing to be aware of however is that if a mat comes in at under $50 it very likely the surface quality is where you will see the difference compared to the more expensive options.
The key thing to remember when deciding on a putting mat is that every putt you ever take on the golf course is a straight putt. That may seem an odd thing to say when you watch some of your putts move 6 feet from right to left on the course.
But your goal for every putt you hit on a green is simply to hit the ball in a straight line towards a pre-determined spot before the contours of the green do the rest to take the ball towards the hole.
Any putting mat you buy therefore should at the very least help you to improve your stroke so as you are hitting your putts in a straight line consistently.
And in an ideal world where space in the house is not an issue the bigger mats will also help you practice your distance control.
Best Putting Mats to Improve Your Putting Numbers
Putting mats come in all shapes and sizes with all manor of different features.
The good news is choosing a putting mat should be a lot less daunting than buying a new set of clubs or a new driver.
Remember what we are looking for is a surface that mimics as best as it can the surface of a real putting green.
And after that it’s all about the various features that we want.
Such as whether we have enough space to accommodate a larger mat to help us practice distance control as well as straight putting.
Or if we want a smaller mat so we can take it around with us to use in the office or at a hotel when we’re on the road.
Or if we want it to include some form of markings to help us with our alignment and practice drills.
To help narrow down the list we did a bunch of testing on six of the most popular mats on the market and came up with the following recommendations:
- Wellputt Golf Putting Mat – Measuring between 10 and 11.5ft on the stimpmeter the Wellput Golf putting mat allows practice of putts up to just over 7ft. It includes markers for stroke guidance, an associated app for more drills and easily rolls up for convenient storage. After the hours of testing we did I picked it as my favourite and it has helped me hugely step up the amount and quality of my putting practice. (Check here to find out the latest price on Amazon) Next step is just to persuade my family to let me upgrade to the 26ft version!
- PuttOut Pro Golf Putting Mat: The PuttOut Pro putting mat is another great product enabling effective putting practice of short putts up to 6ft. With simple distance markings and a compact carry bag our testing found this to be the best mat for easy transport to allow great putting practice anywhere you go. I was also surprised at how much value for money it was and with its associated mobile phone app it again provides some extra drills to keep your putting practice interesting. (Check here to find out the latest price on Amazon)
One final thing to note also. If you own a Toyota Camry you may be in luck and not need to buy a new putting mat at all.
Because according to 5-time PGA Tour winner, Ben Crane, the carpet in the trunk is the best indoor putting surface to practice on!
Using a putting mat allows you to practice the fundamentals of putting more often.
Whether keeping the mat at home, work, or taking it on the go is it a very convenient option to maximise putting practice time without the need to head off to the course or practice range.
And any piece of equipment or training aid that increases practice time can only be a good thing. After all when was the last time you heard anyone tell a golfer they should practice less!
If and when you do get that putting mat also here are some great tips to practice both your stroke and putting the ball in a straight line from Golf Channel host, Martin Hall.
More great articles related to this topic
- Will Putting Practice on Your Carpet at Home Burn Your Scores?
- Good Putting Numbers – It’s About 3 Putts Not Putts per Round
- How Far Should You Hit Your Wedges? Be Sure to Fill the Gaps!
- Is Hitting Golf Balls Into a Net Good Practice? Feel is Key!
- Do Golf Simulators Improve Your Game? Only if You Use Them Right
- How Much Does a Golf Club Fitting Cost? Is it Worth it?