Fully Equipped mailbag: Will turf mats negatively affect my iron fitting?

Hitting an iron off a mat

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Welcome to another edition of the Fully Equipped mailbag sponsored by Cleveland/Srixon Golf, an interactive GOLF.com series in which our resident dimplehead (a.k.a., GOLF’s managing editor of equipment, Jonathan Wall) fields your hard-hitting gear questions. 

I’m a mid-handicapper who would like to get fit for new irons. All my fitting options in town only offer turf mats, so there’s no way I can test on grass. How much does this impact fitting? I’m not a very good player, so I feel as though I might be overcomplicating things?

You’re actually looking at the iron fitting through the proper lens, so don’t think for a second that you’re overcomplicating the process. Most club-fitting facilities you’ll find across the country offer an indoor fitting experience with artificial grass mats, which will influence some of the launch monitor numbers.

That being said, you don’t have to worry about the numbers having a massive influence on your final selection. (We actually conducted a test pitting artificial against driving range turf.)

“There’s nothing wrong with fitting off mats, and you will see some variances from mat to turf,” said Kris McCormack, True Spec’s vice president of tour and education. “Typically speaking, the majority of players hitting off a mat indoors will strike it higher on the face, and it will influence carry numbers. It’s also going to influence some spin numbers and launch a little bit, but you can get a great quality fitting indoors.”

Mats also make it difficult to get a good handle on turf interaction when the iron head is bouncing off the artificial material. If you’re working with a strong fitter, they should be able to determine if the turf interaction will be appropriate based upon the angles you’re creating. Depending on how you typically impact the turf — if you’re a “picker” instead of a “digger” — hitting off a mat might give you a fairly accurate picture of where you’re at with your irons and any potential suitors.

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And if you’re deadset on testing outdoors before pulling the trigger, see if your fitter would be willing to build up a single iron or two — stick with something in the middle of the set — of the options you liked the most to compare turf interaction, flight and feel in a game situation.

So what are the benefits of testing indoors? For a mid-handicapper, you get the opportunity to test on a perfectly flat, level lie in an air-conditioned environment. That means you don’t have to worry about finding a decent lie, and you won’t fatigue as quickly, especially if you’re from the south and have aspirations of testing during the summer.

There’s also an opportunity to test out different heads with your golf ball of choice at an indoor facility, something we’ve highlighted can be difficult to accomplish in an outdoor setting if you play an older model ball or a product that isn’t widely available.

Instead of worrying about wasting your time and money testing indoors, I’d suggest you look at the positives and breathe easy knowing you’re going to get a worthwhile iron fitting — provided you link up with a fitter who knows what they’re doing.

Want to overhaul your bag for 2021? Find a fitting location near you at GOLF’s affiliate company True Spec Golf. For more on the latest gear news and information, check out our latest Fully Equipped podcast below.

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Jonathan Wall


Jonathan Wall is GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com’s Managing Editor for Equipment. Prior to joining the staff at the end of 2018, he spent 6 years covering equipment for the PGA Tour.