Product Review: SKLZ BALL-FIRST Trainer Ball-Striking Mat


Let’s face it, when it comes to golf, you can have the best clubs, but if you don’t make a solid hit on the ball, it simply doesn’t matter.  Here is a simple, easy-to-use tool that can really help you. In short, the mat helps you groove a proper lag with a downward strike, and a square clubface at impact – essential ingredients with any approach shot!


There is something to be said for simplicity, especially when it comes to golf practice devices. I’ve got a closet full of game improvement gadgets that have hinges, velcro, and all kinds of contraptions that range up to more than $300.  Well, this durable, little yellow $19.99 gadget gets my two thumbs-up rating.


The BALL-FIRST Trainer Ball-Striking Mat is an innovative little L-shaped yellow mat that is fixed into the ground by four tees. In addition to encouraging a downward strike and lag, it is designed to develop a proper alignment and clubhead path as well to providing you instant feedback when hit too far behind the ball. (Turn it upside down for left-handed use.)


There are sticks and rods that aid with alignment, but the BALL-FIRST fits right around the ball providing you with a very clear picture and instant feedback as to how you are doing. Everything is already set up for you in perfect alignment. The mat’s triangle markings allow for instant visual comparison of ground entry versus ball positions and as you move the ball back in the three-sided frame, you can quickly get valuable feedback as to “fat hits.” There are also clubhead guides to encourage the proper inside-to-out path.


The mat is extremely durable (believe me I tested this with several mis-swings) and flexible enough to easily roll up and fit into your golf bag.


I like the BALL-FIRST for several reasons. First, it is a valuable swing development tool that gives you instant feedback and alignment. Secondly, it is exceedingly simple both to use and understand – and the feedback is immediate. Thirdly, it is attractive and extremely durable. Finally, it is affordable. At $19.99, this makes for a great investment to not only improve your practice sessions, but more importantly your actual ball-striking!


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3 Responses to “Product Review: SKLZ BALL-FIRST Trainer Ball-Striking Mat”

  1. Tony Lynam

    The only problem I have had using this is during the take away of the club. Often the clubs trailing edge will get caught on the leading egde of the mat at the bottom of the “U”. This will cause me to hinge the club must sooner than I want to. I have followed the instructions and have used tee’s to secure the mat to the grass. Very frustrating.

  2. Daniel Colberg

    Is the ball always suppose to be in the big arrow and the divot is determined on what club you are hitting? I assume your ball placement in your stance is determined by the club you are using? I am trying to figure out if the ball is back of center of your stance on one of the first two marks means you are hitting a pitching wedge or 9,8,7 iron? I do not have the ball back of center in my stance unless I am chipping. So how do you determine where to set the ball on this mat for each of the types of irons etc…

  3. Bob Fagan

    The intention is for the ball to be placed within the horseshoe framing close to the back plastic for ALL irons. You want to hit the ball first with a descending blow on all ground shots (not with a tee) with the exception of a bunker shot or a greenside explosion from the rough. If you hit the plastic, you know immediately of a faulty weight shift with too much weight on your rear foot. The second thing is the direction of the path of your clubhead. If you hit the sides or your divots are not parallel to the arrows, the feedback is that you’re coming too much across the ball from either the outside or the inside. It really doesn’t matter what club your hitting as to the ball position within the frame. If you have any further questions, I’d recommend you ask the company on the provided website or consult a qualified golf instructor. Good luck!

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