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Why don't they use artificial turf on greens?

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Serious question.  With all of the advances in artificial turf sources in the last 10 years or so, what is stopping golf courses from investing in an artificial turf for all of their green complexes.  Just think of the advantages...

  • perfect rolling surface every day.
  • never have to mow a green again.
  • never have to aerate or top dress a green ever again.
  • never have to water a green ever again.
  • never have to worry about brown patches, bare patches, dirt or losing your green ever again.

I suppose the only reason I can think of why courses haven't considered this yet, is because you need to cut the hole on a regular basis, but I would think that courses would be able to get the turf with 4 or 5 different hole locations, and you just swap out one for the other as you go through the week, at least I would think anyway.

What am I missing here?  I would think that the economics would drive golf courses towards this idea, but apparently I am really missing something as I haven't seen it yet...well, except at miniature golf courses.

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A quick google search reveals that there are some around the world. There’s a fairly recent article in a golf course architectural magazine that extols them as the wave of the future so my guess is that they are coming.

My son told me that the atoll his dive would dock at in the Indian Ocean had a 9 hole par three course that featured artificial tees and greens but he was always either too busy or too drunk to play it. :)


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Definitely not 'maintenance free' though, but I imagine requiring noticeably less attention than grass.

Also, from a playing POV, isn't adapting to different green conditions due to weather etc part of the challenge?

I can certainly imagine artificial green (and tees more so) becoming more common over time especially for 'new builds'.  But for an established course to rip its turf greens up to replace them would be a huge financial outlay, so unless it is part of a planned redesign it's probably not practical.

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Have you watched a baseball or football bounce off of synthetic turf?  You'd never get a golf ball to stop.  And that stuff doesn't last forever, eventually you'd have to replace it.  Most important, I can't believe the golfing public would accept it.  

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4 hours ago, DaveP043 said:

Have you watched a baseball or football bounce off of synthetic turf?  You'd never get a golf ball to stop.  And that stuff doesn't last forever, eventually you'd have to replace it.  Most important, I can't believe the golfing public would accept it.  

I was going to say the same thing. One of the big gripes in MLS is that some teams don't have real grass in their stadiums. It becomes a challenge that visiting teams need to overcome to learn all the weird ways the ball bounces. If I recall, they get some of those straight up first bounces followed by a second that shoots forward. It is much different than real turf. I can imagine that a golf ball would behave quite differently, too. 

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A quick google search reveals that there are some around the world. There’s a fairly recent article in a golf course architectural magazine that extols them as the wave of the future so my guess is that they are coming.

My son told me that the atoll his dive would dock at in the Indian Ocean had a 9 hole par three course that featured artificial tees and greens but he was always either too busy or too drunk to play it. :)


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I may have played a time or two on that 9 hole course your son described.
Underneath the green and tee areas the surface was crushed shells. So, like mentioned later in the thread, balls landing on the green took some wicked and unpredictable bounces.
At least we got to swing and practice ball striking


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We have one about an hour from here.  It leaves a lot to be desired to be honest.  Balls react very differently on turf than any natural surface I've ever seen.  If I remember correctly, the one near me has about 5 or 6 preset pin locations on each green.  They simply plug the ones not in use with a plastic tube with the synthetic grass layer on top.

One aside, my kids high school installed a turf football field a few years ago exclaiming the cost benefits due to no (or very low) maintenance requirements.  The school system has found out very quickly, they are not as maintenance free or cheap to maintain as turf companies would have you believe.  Marketing works I guess!

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I would think that there is potential for this in the future. Current artificial grasses are just not there yet. One of the biggest hindrances is going to be blade length. There has to be consistent friction created in order to have the ball react anything close to natural grass. As noted reaction to landing is also an issue. As far as maintenance goes, they are not maintenance free by any means but the cost will be significantly less than natural. 

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I think for a small executive type course that is a bit more of a gimmick and inviting for all types of golfer something with artificial greens and tees could be a lot of fun. With light to play at night, and nothing over say 170 yards. Maybe even less. I don't see anyway for the ball to hold the green past that. 

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Theres an executive course here in Columbus that has synthetic greens.  I played it once and it was awful.  I dont know what they put under the turf but the greens were so hard that your ball would hit the green and bounce like a superball and they were so stupid fast that it wasnt even fun.  I played about 3 holes and went home because I would 5 putt every green.

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On 11/8/2019 at 3:10 PM, ZenGolfer said:

Theres an executive course here in Columbus that has synthetic greens.  I played it once and it was awful.  I dont know what they put under the turf but the greens were so hard that your ball would hit the green and bounce like a superball and they were so stupid fast that it wasnt even fun.  I played about 3 holes and went home because I would 5 putt every green.

Exactly what I’d expect from turf greens. I would  imagine they bounce like frozen greens. No bueno and takes the fun out of it. You’d almost have to put a cushion under the Turf to be more accepting. Then who knows how long that would last for 

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9 minutes ago, Charli said:

Exactly what I’d expect from turf greens. I would  imagine they bounce like frozen greens. No bueno and takes the fun out of it. You’d almost have to put a cushion under the Turf to be more accepting. Then who knows how long that would last for 

Yeah, I dont know what was under that course's greens but it wasnt fun.  I would think that if you just put the turf on bare ground it wouldnt hold water like grass will and could make the ground dry out and make it really hard.  That would certainly explain what I experience.

Either way, I dont look forward to playing on synthetic greens again any time soon.

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I'd bet someone could come up with a good way to make artificial turf that worked well for golf instead of football or soccer. I'm just not sure it'd be easy to convince someone to put the time and money into creating such a turf, or find many courses interested in putting them in their play

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I went to a range one time that had artificial turf in all practice areas. It made for a very different experience when compared to natural grass.


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... We need more nature in our lives, not less. I would never play on plastic greens even if it were free. Being in nature is one of the reasons I play and enjoy golf so the more natural my surroundings the better. Playing on sanctuary courses and/or federally protected wetlands is always a treat.  

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I’m not looking forward to it, but water scarcity might force it in some regions eventually? I would think excessive bounce could be fixed with a softer sub layer(s), that tech exists with mattresses along other products.  And I’m sure they could dial in any Stimp speed courses want with longer “blades” - like carpet pile.

However, baseball and football fields are relatively flat. For golf greens, I wonder how they deal with all the complex contours with many greens? They’d have to use a very flexible membrane or they’ll have wrinkles all over.

Edited by Middler
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I talked to our Super about this a couple weeks ago. 
He has heard of some small executive type courses doing it. But said he cant imagine any regular course would ever do so. 

The size of greens (and 18 of them not 9) would be very expensive. 

once they are done they arent maintenance free. They would need to be cleaned/brushed/vacuumed regularly  .  
 

creating and changing holes could present quality challenges.  Eventually the turf will wear out and need replaced. 
 

damage can be tough to repair vs grass. 
 

Where the turf meets grass on the fringes could create some awkward rolls/lies 

plus he said probably a myriad of other things he hadn’t thought  of  

Think about it.  All other synthetic fields are generally 1 large area that arent 18 individual 3,000 SQ Feet fields of their own. 

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3 hours ago, Golfspy_CG2 said:

I talked to our Super about this a couple weeks ago. 
He has heard of some small executive type courses doing it. But said he cant imagine any regular course would ever do so. 

The size of greens (and 18 of them not 9) would be very expensive. 

once they are done they arent maintenance free. They would need to be cleaned/brushed/vacuumed regularly  .  
 

creating and changing holes could present quality challenges.  Eventually the turf will wear out and need replaced. 
 

damage can be tough to repair vs grass. 
 

Where the turf meets grass on the fringes could create some awkward rolls/lies 

plus he said probably a myriad of other things he hadn’t thought  of  

Think about it.  All other synthetic fields are generally 1 large area that arent 18 individual 3,000 SQ Feet fields of their own. 

You're forgetting seams. Artificial turf fields aren't one giant piece of fake turf, there are dozens of seems all throughout the turf. Imagine dealing with a seam on a putting green. Oof 

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I wouldn't say I'm looking forward to a replacement for natural grass greens, but I think the economics of water are going to make lower maintenance alternatives look more attractive.  

One thing I wonder is why courses don't use artifical turf on tees?  Tees take a horrific beating.

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1 hour ago, jlukes said:

You're forgetting seams. Artificial turf fields aren't one giant piece of fake turf, there are dozens of seems all throughout the turf. Imagine dealing with a seam on a putting green. Oof 

Yep.  I forgot  that. It was part of whst he said when he was talking about the seams on the fringes. 
 

i know weve all had a minigolf hole in one ruined by a bad seam 😎

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