Mat vs grass weirdness

Was going to try and play today. Figured I didn’t really have time to, versus some range/chipping/putting practice. Good thing I didn’t play, as I found this peculiar issue, that I’m asking you all about.

At the ‘grass’ lie driving range (which is more this side of Bermuda-covered concrete), I was excited, expecting to put the launch monitor through its paces, and proceeded to top and/or shank or send straight off to the right, pretty much every short iron and wedge I wanted to try.

Moved the ball back. Top. Tried abbreviating the swing to 9’o clock. Top, and or shank. With some fat ground contact, toe deeper, and about 3-4 inches behind ball.

Stuck tee in ground, in line with ball at address, but about two inches further on Y-axis (Feet describe the X-axis, up in air/down into the ground is Z), to try and see divot position. No divot, unless fat, as described earlier.

Really frustrating time. The shots I felt I was getting ok at least contact on, headed right and mostly straight with some fade, about 30 degrees off what I thought I was aiming at.

Finished bucket—chipping area was closed anyway, likely indefinitely. (The general driving range public evidently thinks blasting “pitches” over the woods bordering the range, and into the neighboring houses/businesses, is the height of hilarity.)

Really frustrated, said screw it on elapsed time, went to range with mats (and shade). Boom, boom, boom: straight, high, crisp. No right flight, no topping, no shanks. The mats are fluffier, but at the end in the grass range, I was teeing up 9Is with a button tee, and it still wasn’t crisp.

What is going on? I can’t bring a mat to the course.

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I’ve had this issue and I’m not 100% sure, but for me it seems to stem from setup and alignment. The mats are nice and square and level I can set up square with them nicely. The grass area at my local range is not perfectly level and it aims you left, but you need to aim out to the right at the flags. I usually bring some alignment sticks or use clubs to start to make sure I set up properly and that seems to get me going in the right direction. Sometimes I start on the mat just to find some rhythm and then move to the grass.


Thought I was checking that, but I think you’re right. I’ll redouble my efforts with intermediate aim points, alignment aids, and trying to duplicate my mat setup.

Also wondering if I have a bit of a “flinch” about trying to take a divot in tougher ground. No idea how to fix that, if so.


That can certainly alter your swing. I have had surgery on my right wrist and later on my left hand and that forced me to become more of a sweeper. I do tend to be steeper with wedges and actually have 125 gram graphite shafts in my wedges for shock absorption. Personally I’m more afraid of the mats, but the ranges near me have pretty thin ones over concrete so I try not to hit off of them too much.


I had this “issue” one time really, really bad. It’s bad luck to even say that word. And yes it’s like a freakin virus and it doesn’t go away until you fix it. It’s a swing flaw and what’s happening is kinda obvious…you are leading and impacting with the hosel. So easy today to video yourself. I had to take a lesson and the pro found for me the cause was on my take away…(it was not a one piece takeaway) I was breaking my wrists immediately (opening up) and the return to impact was almost exactly as what I took it away…who knows how I got into that bad habit right? I was so bad that he duct taped my hands & wrists so I couldnt break my wrists at all to break the habit. It took weeks to fix back in the early 90s. I hope you are not that bad. But check your take away and return of clubhead at impact.


Could it be you’re subconsciously trying to hit shallow so as not to damage clubs/self on the hard pan? Only other ‘suspect’ would be actual ground contact slightly behind ball, club bouncing into the ball causing thin/topped shots (unlikely, since you’d undoubtedly notice. But you did mention “few fat, 3-4 inches behind”).
Fwiw, whenever I monkey with my setup (ball back/forward, in/out, etc) I’m doomed and best call it a day. I’ve never quite learned meaning of ‘a little bit’. :disappointed:
Hope this helps!