In preparation for hosting the 2013 U.S. Open, Merion Golf Club has made artificial mats mandatory for golfers hitting approach shots from its fairways.
The mats, rectangles about 5 inches wide by 15 inches long, have been used as a way to control divots since October, according to a report by Joe Logan at myphillygolf.com.
It’s a simple concept. Each caddie at Merion, which is a walking-only course, carries a mat in the pouch of his caddie bib. By the time his player reaches his tee shot, the caddie has lifted, cleaned and placed his ball on the mat.
"They’re just like something you’d find at the driving range," one Merion member said of the mats. "I actually find them easier to hit off of than turf."
In an effort to preserve prime landing areas of the fairway, the mats are mostly used on second shots on the course's shorter par 4s, Nos. 1, 7, 8 and 10, according to the report.
"When the pros are playing next summer, if they land where they are supposed to land, you want to give them good turf," said the Merion member. If they skull it, or hit long or short, you are not going to guarantee them good turf."