A glimpse into the future… a golf course that is environmentally sensible and requires no water or harmful chemicals. One that can be maintained with simplicity and substantial cost savings by using state-of-the-art synthetic turf systems; and, when its life cycle has come to an end, the old turf is removed and reclaimed back to the supplier where it will be repurposed into future products – a true cradle-to-cradle product solution.
Wait… is it possible that this is all achievable now?
Southwest Greens Construction, the official construction arm for the Southwest Greens Brand on a global basis, started in 2008 to make this a reality. The company’s ‘dot on the horizon’ was set, and step by step we are closing in on this objective.
The acceptance of high-quality synthetic turf solutions in the golf industry is gaining traction. SGC leads the way, with a wide portfolio of synthetic turf systems that each serve a purpose – solutions that have been developed, besides looking at ‘natural ball behaviour’, to take away the issues experienced on natural surfaces. When logically thinking about synthetic surfaces, the ‘less maintenance cost’ concept is one of the first things that comes to mind.
Southwest Greens looks at a golf course as a sum of components. We have created solutions for tees and tee lines, fairways, rough and bunkers as well as several products for putting surfaces – ranging from small indoor surfaces to replacing greens on existing courses.
The challenges golf courses face nowadays can best be addressed by focusing on each of the components of the course, pinpointing the weaknesses, and creating a solid and long-lasting solution. We believe that breaking up the conventional golf course into components and then looking at how we can make improvements to them is a strategy that adds genuine value to the golf course industry as it adjusts to ever-changing variables and confronts increasing challenges. Looking at each component as an individual topic and then re-approaching the ways we do things creates transparency in the maintenance budget and allows for innovation. It also compares traditional surfaces with alternative surfaces in an honest way. Having said that, innovation in the golf industry needs to go hand in hand with acceptance of golfers and other stakeholders. The ‘user experience’, the course’s aesthetics and the relationship to nature need to be considered. Case in point is the success of bunker alternatives we see in today’s marketplace which get a lot of praise and are widely accepted.
A similar process is taking place for tee lines and teeing areas. Many of the world’s top clubs have now opted for the synthetic alternative, due to the quality of the product, and given that traditional tee lines can be difficult to maintain and keep at a consistent and top-quality level. The comparison of investing in such an option shouldn’t be made compared to tee mats on the range as the ‘user experience’ is not the same. The honest comparison is a natural tee area versus a quality synthetic product.
Hot, dry summers or cold, freezing winters wreak havoc on tee areas due to their need to withstand constant ball-striking from players. Tee boxes on short courses are being used so intensely that maintaining the natural grass is hardly possible and often shows in the quality.
Southwest Greens Premium Champ Tee is a solution that has been installed on a global level and stands the test of different climates and intense usage. For many years, the product had a dark green ‘industry standard’ colour and that has functioned with a lot of satisfaction. With SGC gaining feedback from clients and working with Shaw Industries’ research and development team, the Southwest Greens brand introduced a more natural colour for the tee use ‘on the course’.
In September 2020, the French Golf Federation opened its short course at Le Golf National (pictured). SGC had installed there, for the first time, its spring green colour, a simple innovation with the same quality standard, but giving the tee areas a more natural look. Although a small change, the details make the difference, and even a colour change can create more acceptance from players as positive comments about the playing experience have become the norm for quite some time now. An acceptance in look and feel, improving the journey for both clubs and their guests, is what we are after.
Kevin Holinaty is president at Southwest Greens Construction
This article first appeared in the January 2021 issue of Golf Course Architecture. For a printed subscription or free digital edition, please visit our subscriptions page.