The playing surface on any golf course has gone through a rather extensive evolution since golf first came to pass in Scotland several hundred years ago. It has been refined down so only the very best grass is now used. Of course, it has not always been like this.
Golf grass always looked to provide clean playing areas for golfers, but for the majority of the time up until post World War I, this simply relied on someone mowing the grass. There was no difference in the putting green and the thicker brush around it outside of the level for which it was allowed to grow. This all started to change during the Golden Age of golf course design. This age took place between the two World Wars and, with scientists not looking at ways to develop weapons, many started to look towards other methods of development, with some focusing in on how to improve agriculture development. This led to all new golf course designs and, as money allowed for it (especially prior to the Great Depression), an assortment of grasses started to be used throughout the course. This not only added to the improve playability of golfing, but it also made it possible to completely change the design of the courses and gave the designers more access to available sod so it reflected their ultimate design.
By the time the 1960s came around, the majority of these golf courses were in disrepair though. Despite using truly beautiful styles of grass, after several decades of play, the playing greens had deteriorated and even slopes towards the hole became more of a problem as well, simply due to the amount of foot traffic these areas saw. This eventually led to the implementation of thatch development.
There is a problem with mowing grass down to be extremely short (such as that seen on the putting green). When grass is kept incredibly short, the root systems remain short as well. Due to this, the roots pull up easily and it requires more watering because the roots are unable to absorb as much water. With thatch development, it was able to increase the root thickness before laying down the sod. This way, the playing surfaces could remain short while still having a thicker root system. This improves the color and the life of the grass, all while making it possible to have it shorter and not result in easily damaged grass. In order to go along with this, a drainage system below the golf surface started to become common place. The drainage system is essentially underground trenches that carry water down to a lower area on the course (usually a pond) so the water would not saturate the golf course.
Artificial grass started to pop up in the 70s with the reduce quality of grass, but the artificial grass was installed over cement, which altered the bounce of the ball. Eventually, those locations using artificial grass (such as courses in the desert), started to use a player artificial grass, which is designed from more rubber material and has an almost life-like appearance and feel to it. There is even small pieces of recycled tires that are used to replicate dirt as well. Now, artificial grass and current crass can almost be completely interchangeable with one another.
About the Author
This article was written by Vendela Wilson. Vendela is a professional content writer and landscaping enthusiast. She works for Home Green Advantage, a New York based company that offers premium landscaping services.