There are a few points worth remembering about the practice mats you’ll find at most ranges…
A lot amateur golfers will tell you it’s much easier to play off grass than a synthetic surface. However, you’ll get away with a lot of poor strikes from a mat that would be disastrous on the golf course (which is one reason I believe a lot of golfers struggle to transfer their range game to the course).
– The best practice surface is grass, so if you have a grass range available to you, use it. Range mats can encourage you to ‘clip’ the ball off the surface but taking a divot is an important part of solid, crisp ball-striking. The shape and direction of your divots can also give you good feedback about your swing.
– If you hit slightly behind the ball (called heavy or fat shots) on a range mat, the club will bounce off the mat and still make a reasonable contact with the ball. On grass, the same swing would send the ball just a few yards down the fairway. Listen for the sound of the strike and discount heavy strikes as bad shots that you’d be punished for on the course.
– Don’t fall into the habit of ‘clipping’ the ball off the surface of the mat. For a good strike the club should be bottoming out and brushing the synthetic turf after the ball.