Golf Course Architecture - Issue 70, October 2022

INS IGHT In 2018, short game legend Dave Pelz invited my colleague, 20-year experienced golf course architect Paul Jansen to his home in Austin, Texas, to see what he and his son Eddie had created several years before. Dubbed “the world’s greatest backyard” by The Wall Street Journal, Dave had built a four-acre practice area where his tour professional clients (including Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed and more than twenty other major championship winners) could practice and prepare for the biggest stages in golf. What began as one green became seven, including replicas of the seventeenth holes at TPC Sawgrass and Pebble Beach, and the twelfth at Augusta (at Phil Mickelson’s personal request). Eventually, Pelz ended up with what he describes as “every shot you can hit on earth from 100 yards and under”. This included practice putting pads at one, two, three and four per cent slopes to teach players scientific green reading plus a wedge calibration area, where targets are sized to ref lect PGA Tour proximity averages from varying distances. Dave, a Nasa rocket engineer before turning to golf, says: “I was tired of travelling all over the country to meet my pros and help them with their games. I had an idea that if I could create the perfect space for them to practice, they would come to me. I didn’t have the time or attention to take care of a full short game grass facility here at home, so I turned to artificial turf – maybe it was possible to get it as good as the real thing? Back then, artificial turf for golf was in rough shape, but I saw the potential.” Pelz worked with SYNLawn to develop a bespoke putting and chipping turf for his backyard. And it has stood the test of time, the backyard still looks and plays like real after twelve years of use by the world’s best. While a 12-year warranty with a 20-year life expectancy and SYNLawns HeatBlock technology keeping the turf cool in hot temperatures, and Using artificial with intelligence Synthetic turf could provide a solution to some of golf ’s pressures, as Rob Gavarkovs explains ROB GAVARKOVS 64