Take an old towel and place it a club head’s distance behind a golf ball. Now practice hitting shots without disrupting the towel.

Fairway Mats and the perfect iron shot

I always look forward to this time of year for several reasons. The days are getting longer, the weather is beginning to improve and for many of us golfers, the fairway mats are soon to be on their way out.

For those of you maybe not familiar with this practice, due to the inclement climate we have in Scotland during the winter months we play from a mat for all shots off the fairway between tee and green. A very worthy idea which helps to keep the courses at the Home of Golf in such great condition all year round!

There’s nothing quite like playing an iron shot from one of those unmistakable links fairways; the sensation and result can be so rewarding. However, I will certainly admit that not all of us will be so happy about losing the mats. Many of you reading may miss the forgiving nature of the mat when we maybe don’t quite catch the ball perfectly. This problem usually occurs when the club strikes the ground before the ball. On a mat you can usually get away with this, but on a tightly mown links fairway…not so much!

If this is something you’ve experienced then I’ve got a practice drill for you to try. Take an old towel and place it a club head’s distance behind a golf ball; now practice hitting shots without disrupting the towel.


Start off just hitting light pitch shots and then move onto full iron shots. This will focus the bottom of your swing arc to be after the ball instead of before it. Then maybe you can enjoy more of these well struck iron shots from the nice fresh fairways.

Fairway Mats are used on all St Andrews Links courses between the months of November and February each year, with the Old Course and The Castle Course retaining their use until the end of March.


Words by Blair Cross, Academy Instructor

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