As if playing in bad weather isn't enough, now you can't even hit from the grass. Steve Carroll and Alex Perry air their feelings on the dreaded fairway mats

Not many things irk golfers more than having to hit off a fairway mat in the winter. Is it more important to let our fairways recover so they are sparkling in summer? Or should a year round sport mean playing it as it lies at all times? Two of our writers discuss…

‘Not many things irk me more than fairway mats’

Strap yourselves in people, this could turn into a rant, writes Steve Carroll.

There are many things that irk me about winter golf – the cold being the root of most of them – but my face goes redder than a jaunt in the Arctic when it comes to mats.

It’s dispiriting. You’ve got a good round going and you step onto the tee at a par 3 to be confronted with a piece of bone hard artificial turf that looks like it has been shipped over from a hockey field.

I know what’s going to happen before I’ve even swung the club – a stinger up the arm and a shank into some cabbage as the iron goes sideways off the rubber.

To make matters worse, at a lot of places – the venerable Old Course being one – you also have to take a small bit of fabric or plastic around with you lest you scar the turf.

I understand we need to protect the grass when it’s cold. I really do. But that doesn’t mean I have to enjoy hitting off a carpet sample.

Now, you can play it out of the rough. But, in winter, that’s like trying to strike your ball from a jungle.

Am I being unreasonable?

‘Why wouldn’t you want to preserve your course in winter?’

I’ve never had a problem with playing off a tee or fairway mat, writes Alex Perry.

I usually have a problem playing off a fairway.

In a sadistic way I actually quite like them. Where do you do most of your practice? At the driving range. On a mat. If you can’t hit off one then where on earth have you been?

And those little slithers of felt we’re handed at the start of a round to play from on the fairway? Love them. You can’t fat the ball off a fairway mat! You can slice them, but you can’t fat them.

I do tend to lose them after about three holes though…

Seriously though, folks, from a member perspective I don’t see an issue. Why wouldn’t you want to preserve your course for four months a year and reap the rewards for the season?

And if you’re a visitor? Well, in that case you just do what you’re told. You’re paying a lot less for your green fee than you would in the summer.

Your say?

Is a fairway mat an essential accessory or a maddening inconvenience? Let us know in the comments below, or you can tweet us.

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Steve Carroll

A journalist for 23 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former captain and committee member, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the national Tournament Administrators and Referee's Seminar. He has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying and the PGA Fourball Championship. A member of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap.

Handicap: 10.9

Alex Perry


Alex has been the editor of National Club Golfer since 2017. A Devonian who enjoys wittering on about his south west roots, Alex moved north to join NCG after more than a decade in London, the last five of which were with ESPN. Away from golf, Alex follows Torquay United and spends too much time playing his PlayStation or his guitar and not enough time practising his short game.

Handicap: 14

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