While synthetic turf is proving an excellent low wear, low maintenance asset at many golf clubs, ranges and teaching academies, as well as for golfers wanting to practise their game at home, the material cannot be simply installed and forgotten, warns Warren Bailey of specialist supplier and installer, Southwest Greens UK.
"A minimum level of care is essential if synthetic turf surfaces are to remain playing and looking at their best," he points out. "This is particularly important for tees, practice ranges and greens which have a high footfall or are located close to trees, fields and planted borders. A further factor dictating maintenance routines is whether a sand filler has been used to pack out the fibres."
Apart from the need to occasionally brush the surface and blow away stray leaves, twigs and other green material before play, most outdoor synthetic turf installations will require weed seedlings to be removed from the surface physically or with the aid of herbicide applications. Similar spray treatment may be necessary also to deal with moss growth resulting from microscopic spores drifting in on the breeze.
"Greenkeepers regularly aerate and scarify natural turf to combat the effects of compaction caused primarily by golfers' feet," comments Mr Bailey. "Although synthetic turf offers far greater durability than grass, over time it can become similarly compacted, affecting drainage, the run of the ball and ability to accept shots."
To help customers extract the maximum life and playability from their synthetic turf surfaces, Southwest Greens' installations incorporate a unique shock-absorbing underlay to help minimise compaction. A further measure, employed primarily by Southwest Greens on high footfall projects, is the use of graded sands, carefully layered within the profile to absorb downward forces without compacting.
"All of our installations can be restored to a virtually as-new condition whenever the need arises," concluded Mr Bailey. "However, we do our best to defer that need for as long as possible by using high quality materials, professionally installed on properly-prepared bases. Although Southwest Greens' surfaces may cost a little more initially than the competition, our customers tell us that the long-term benefits far outweigh the outlay in terms of longevity, consistency and the natural way in which the surface reacts and responds to a golf ball."