After injuring my elbow with a bad golf mat early on I switched to Fiberbuilt’s grass series mat which I was very impressed with.
The quality was fantastic and it’s truly a unique design for a golf hitting mat aimed at injury prevention.
Now, I’m no longer as concerned with injury prevention and am looking for the best possible hitting mat for my game and simulator space. Of course I wanted to review the Fiberbuilt Player Preferred mat.
I found the Fiberbuilt Player Preferred mat to be the same high quality construction as the grass series with a unique hitting strip that is claimed to create the closest launch conditions to real fairway.
In this Fiberbuilt Player Preferred mat review I will do my best to describe what this hitting mat is and how it feels so you can make the right purchase decision for yourself.
Table of Contents
- Video Review: Fiberbuilt Player Preferred
- Player Preferred Studio Mat Quality / Durability
- Feel / Realism
- Does the Player Preferred mat punish fat shots?
- Fit Within Golf Simulator Space
- Fiberbuilt Player Preferred Alternatives
- Multiple sizes and configuration
- Real feel
- Clean look
Video Review: Fiberbuilt Player Preferred
Player Preferred Studio Mat Quality / Durability
The Player Preferred Single-Hitting Studio Mat ships in three boxes. There are six 2’x2’ rubber base pieces, stance turf for both sides of the hitting strip, and the 2’x4’ Player Preferred hitting strip.
All of the base pieces and hitting strip connect together with rubber push pins in the corners. It takes about 10 minutes to unbox and assemble.
The base pieces are the really thick, heavy-duty rubber that won’t slide around on the ground.
My initial reaction to the Player Preferred hitting strip section was… unimpressed. More on that later.
It is all one piece composed of some short turf on top, the proprietary absorption layer, and then the same rubber on the bottom.
It is all glued together in one piece so I couldn’t see what the absorption layer is at all. I was expecting to see some special foam or gel section like the True-Strike mat.
The Player Preferred hitting section looks like a 2’x4’ piece of rubber with some turf on top.
Overall, once put together the mat looks very nice to my eye. I like all the straight lines and very thin rubber borders.
I haven’t used the mat long enough to speak to the durability of the hitting section but from what I have seen written in Facebook groups it does tend to wear out in 1-2 years.
I’m sure that depends on your use and of course you replace the hitting section by itself. You can also flip it around so that you are using different spots to extend the life a little longer.
Feel / Realism
As I mentioned before I was not impressed with the hitting section after I unboxed it. After reviewing the Carl’s Place Divot Action Strip, the Gungho Holy Grail Strip, True Strike mat, etc. I was expecting to see something really unique.
It also feels pretty hard to the touch compared to some of the more squishy hitting strips mentioned above. When I press down on the turf there’s nothing squishy about it.
Then I hit some shots…and it felt really good. Like…really good.
It felt as advertised – like hitting off the fairway. While some of the other hitting strips were squishy to touch and had a little bit of a bouncy feeling when hit, that isn’t what the ground feels like.
Another thing that struck me right away was the sound of a well struck golf shot. Hitting a solid iron shot gave a really nice, deep sound that any golfer would recognize (even if you don’t hear it that often).
So it feels and sounds pretty close to an on-course golf shot but what about it not being squishy like a lot of other mats? Did it cause any pain in my elbow or wrist?
Actually, no it didn’t.
After testing a lot of the hitting mats I have a theory about what causes the pain in my lead arm. Keep in mind this may be exclusive to me and my golf swing and may not apply to you.
I believe that what caused my initial injury is more related to the fibers in my first mat grabbing and stopping the club head while my body and arms continued forward. I’ve heard the term “turf shock” and that is how I would describe it. It felt like a heavy vibration up the shaft into my arm.
So for me I don’t think it had anything to do with the “hardness” of my first mat. It had a layer of foam underneath the mat.
According to Fiberbuilt, the Player Preferred section’s proprietary Vibration Absorption layer stops 94.7% of club head vibration. As I said, it’s all one piece so I can’t see this layer but it seems to be doing something right.
After all, the fairway is not squishy. If you poked it with your finger it wouldn’t feel like foam. Neither does this mat.
Does the Player Preferred mat punish fat shots?
Absolutely. Just like the fairway. Most hitting mats say that they punish fat shots but in my opinion they do in a different way.
For example, the Fiberbuilt Grass series might punish a fat shot by hitting the ball too high on the club face while the club head still passes through the bristles.
Hit a fat shot on the Player Preferred mat and you will get that ground first, then ball feeling and look like an idiot while the ball carries 30 yards and bounces away. I did.
Fit Within Golf Simulator Space
For those of us building a full golf simulator space we want to know how you can fit a hitting mat into the space and potentially tie it in with other flooring.
Personally, I really like the look of this mat because of it’s straight lines and thin borders.
I am wanting my new hitting mat to tie into a putting green that extends all the way to my impact screen. Fiberbuilt also offers combo mats that do exactly that. I wasn’t sure if I would go with one of those combo mats or save some money and make a DIY putting green that matches the level of the Player Preferred Studio mat.
To my surprise the hitting section actually fits very well next to 1” foam tiles. The rubber border is higher all around the stance areas but drops down at the hitting section.
In fact the hitting section lines up almost perfectly in height to my 1” foam tiles with putting turf on top. That means the DIY putting green is very possible and you can also roll your putts from the hitting section down to the screen with a minimal bump in the transition. This is what’s needed for putting with a Mevo Plus.
Another surprise was how beneficial the 2ft x 4ft hitting section is compared to a 1ft wide hitting strip. This lets me use the entire 14” wide hitting zone of my Foresight GCQuad launch monitor.
Since my space is only 12ft wide my hitting strip is offset to the right. Having a wider hitting section lets me hit my irons closer to the center of the screen while still being able to swing my driver by leaving the ball on the right side of the hitting section.
Fiberbuilt Player Preferred Alternatives
Fiberbuilt Grass Series
The Fiberbuilt Grass series mats are obviously the same high quality mat from Fiberbuilt with a different hitting strip. The grass series uses bristles that can be described as an upside down broom head. This means the club head glides through the bristles with almost no resistance making it one of the best mats available for injury prevention.
If you’re biggest concern is injury prevention, consider the Fiberbuilt Grass Series mat.
True Strike Golf Mats
The True Strike golf mats are another high quality mat that is modular so you can add on or replace sections of the mat very easily. The hitting strip is composed of a silicone gel on top of a foam base that is designed to be very realistic while absorbing vibration.
After testing out the TrueStrike single golf mat I was pretty disappointed. You can read my full TrueStrike review for the details but if you were considering one of these I would recommend one of the other alternatives.
SIGPRO Softy Golf Mat or Hitting Strip
The SIGPRO Softy was one of my favorite golf mats that I tested. I felt like it was very close in feel to the Fiberbuilt Player Preferred mat except with more cushion. I have no problem recommending it for someone that wants a “real” feel but is looking for more injury prevention. Read my review of the SIGPRO Softy mat if you’re interested.
Overall I am highly impressed with the Fiberbuilt Player Preferred Studio mat. I’ve found it to be very realistic compared to hitting on-course and I enjoy the clean look.
I would recommend the Player Preferred Studio Mat to players that:
- Looking for a realistic feel
- Don’t want to “get away with” mishits
- Want a standalone mat rather than a hitting strip cut into a subfloor (like foam tiles or insulation board)
- Multiple sizes and configuration
- Real feel
- Clean look