Review: BirdieTurf

BirdieTurfIf you have been looking for a portable, quality golf mat solution the BirdieTurf could be your answer.  The system consists of two mats, a stand mat with a rubber surface and a grass mat.  Recently they changed the product so that you received two mats with the grass surface.  This review is about the first version, but the important thing is the quality of the hitting surface.

Range Mat Comparison

So how does this mat compare to range mats.  There are few different types of range mats depending on the type of range.  Some ranges have very thin hard mats.  Those are the harshest on the body.  Most public driving ranges that I have been to have a thicker harder mat with little give, but are a step above the thin mats.  With those two types of mats, they are often so hard they provide little realistic feedback.  A shot hit fat could easily appear to be a quality shot because of the way the club bounces of the mat and into the ball.  Those mats don’t allow you to hit down and through the ball and if you have a digger type swing that normally takes a divot, those mats can end up causing you pain in your wrists, elbows, and shoulders.

The nicest range mats have a softer grass surface that feels more natural and allows you to hit down and through the ball.  Those mats are pretty rare at commercial driving ranges.  I have seen these only at a prestigious private golf club.  The mats there really do feel like hitting of a lush fairway, they allow you to hit down and through the ball, they give you realistic feedback, and you can put a tee anywhere you want.

The BirdieTurf feel is somewhere between the nicer range mat, and the private club mat described above.  Although it does not really let you hit down and through the ball it does feel soft on the wrists, elbows and shoulders.  It is a higher quality mat than you will find at most commercial driving ranges.

The BirdieTurf is very portable and solidly built.  Each half of the two piece system measures 32” by 22” and weighs 19 lbs.  It will not slide during swings.  Each mat also has a heavy duty carrying handle, making them ideal for a backyard driving range, or even taking to your local park with a sleeve of birdie balls.

Zen Chili Rating for  BirdieTurf

3 Zens out of 5

• Soft mat means less for fear of injury
• Practice anywhere, especially with BirdieBalls
• Easy on the wallet

5 Chilis out of 5

• Solid Construction
• Good feel and feedback
•Soft grass surface
• Will not slide
• Great for full swing, and chipping

To learn more about the rating system click here.

The mats come with a heavy duty universal tee that holds any type of normal tee.  I would suggest using a plastic tee like a zero friction tee if you are going to hit drives off this mat as the tee holder has a solid bottom and a wooden tee could break, leaving the wooden part embedded in the holder with no chance of getting it out.  Plastic tees are less likely to break like that.  The tee that comes with the mat is removable and you can replace it with your own rubber tees or even something like the DuraTee.

High Quality Mat, excellent value

Overall this is an excellent mat system for the price.  It has a soft feeling surface that won’t injure you the way most commercial range mats do.  It is portable, so you can take it anywhere and work on your game.  You could even take it to your local range to hit off a better surface if you don’t like the mats they have.  While it doesn’t have quite the feel of the mats that allow you to hit down and through, it is surprisingly close.  Even when I went after it with a steep swing, the mat felt softer and had more give than your traditional range mat.

BirdieTurf product description at the BirdieBall website.

Review: The Floppy – Indoor Practice Golf Ball

Master the short game and you can score well even when your long game is off.

The Floppy is a soft indoor practice golf ball.  It has  a woven cover, a liner and a proprietary filling.

http://www.thefloppy.com/images/smaller/whatsinside.jpg

The Floppy Close Up
The Floppy Close Up

The videos on the homepage do a good job of showing what the floppy does and how it reacts when it bounces of windows.  When I first saw the floppy on-line I thought it was going to be a bit like a hacky sack in the shape of a golf ball.  But when you squeeze it, it instantly bounces back into shape.   The quality of the woven cover is very good.  I would imagine that a single ball could easily take thousands of hits.  The sticker on the ball won’t last that long though.  It pretty quickly got worn down so that the text was difficult to read.    That does not affect it’s performance.

How it behaves

It is best to have it land on something as close to turf as possible.  I found that on carpet it does react very much like a golf ball.  It checks up pretty well, and can even spin back a little bit.  You can hit it high or low and it will behave predictably.

For us North Easterners, and anyone else stuck in the cold, it does provide a nice way to practice your short game.    Depending on how hard you hit them I think they could still knock some things over as they do have a little bit of weight to them.  However they do absorb impacts well and lightly bounce of harder objects like walls or plate glass.  I think these would be a blast to use in an indoor AstroTurf field.

Overall I think The Floppy is a very cool indoor practice ball.  When I combine it with my golf mat (Country Club Elite) and use the stance mat as a grassy target it really does allow me to practice short chips and pitches very well.   I was easily able to practice chip shots inside up to 25 ft, limited by my living space and not the ball it self.  I could hit high little floaters or low running chips well with it.

The Floppy certainly takes a bit of the sting out of being in a cold part of the country with a few months until the golf season officially starts here.  In the meantime I can become a deadly chipper and pitcher and hopefully a short game wizard.  My preference with the floppy is to land it on the “short grass” of the stance mat, and see how it rolls out or responds rather than bouncing it off the walls as it is show in the videos on the home page for the product.

On a side note, I am a fan of Phil Mickelson’s “Secrets of the Short Game”, and find that the Floppy with the mats allows me to groove a consistent hinge and hold.

Although it can be used for the long game, I do not have a net and I would not take full swings with the floppy, at least not until I had a good practice net in place.  But for short game practice, I have not hit another practice golf ball that gives me the kind of feedback that the floppy does.

The Floppy Home Page

Review: Country Club Elite Golf Mats

Country Club Elite Golf Mat

I recently ordered the small (20″ x 30″ ) Country Club Elite golf mat from Real Feel Golf Mats.

I’ve heard about a lot of mats that promise to give you the lush feel of hitting off a fairway and being able to “take a divot”.  I was a bit skeptical but I knew I needed to try it.  The mats at my local range were so hard that I think I was developing tendinitis in my shoulder.  At home I had a small Hank Haney mat that I hit off and it was really getting chewed up.  The mat was only 1/4″ of an inch thick at most and I would find little tufts of mat all over the floor that needed sweeping up.

I knew when I took the first swings that this mat was different.  When you hit into it, you get this real resistance as the club digs into the mat.  It handles fat shots realistically.  I find typical range mats provide a false sense of security because you can hit the ball so fat and because the club just bounces off the mat you can still end up with decent contact.  It’s not like that on the golf course.

I like being able to stick tees into it because I can practice drills like the gate drill where you put a couple of tees in the ground and have the club go through the gate.

CCE Mat with Tee

The 99 dollar 20×30 mat was perfect for me because I already have a stance mat.  If I didn’t have a stance mat I would definitely have needed to buy one as you really want to be on the same level as the CCE Mat.

The experience of hitting off this mat is really a lot like hitting from a nice fairway and more importantly you really do get a feel for hitting down and through the ball.  I also feel it making a big impact on my body.  It is a relief hitting off this mat.  My shoulder feels much better.  Overall I rate this mat a 5 out of 5.  The quality is outstanding and should hold up to years of use unlike the Hank Haney mat which gets shredded within weeks.

Below is a picture of the shredded up Hank Haney mat.

Hank Haney Mat

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