Putting greens are what most people think of when they picture golf. Those lush, green, perfectly manicured lawns are iconic, and key to a successful golf game. However, how long do putting greens last?
On average, well-taken care of artificial-grass putting greens last about 15 years. Live grass putting greens need to have the grass maintained and reseeded regularly, with the grass living from 1-3 years, but the entire putting green can be maintained for decades before being reshaped.
More than one homeowner has wondered if they have what it takes to keep a lawn that gorgeous. For more information on how long outdoor putting greens last, and how they’re maintained, keep reading below!
How Long do Outdoor Putting Greens Last?
Putting greens are an investment that you want to make last as long as possible. On top of all the other work that goes into maintaining a golf course, putting greens demand aesthetic maintenance and cleaning to make sure the cost invested pays off.
Golfers need to be able to lay down on the green and know they won’t come up looking like they rolled in the dirt, and you need to feel confident that one stray shot won’t ruin your green.
Artificial Putting Greens
Artificial putting greens have a few advantages over live grass. They can’t be poisoned, they can’t get cooked by the sun, you don’t need to water them, and they won’t get dug up by small lawn-destroying wildlife.
These protective factors mean that you’ll spend significantly less money maintaining an artificial lawn, which can more than make up for the initial high cost of installation.
Artificial putting greens that are properly maintained, including a twice-yearly inspection, last up to fifteen years (source). While this isn’t as long as an artificial lawn in a backyard, it’s longer than turf on a football field!
Live Grass Putting Greens
Live-grass putting greens are tricky to define. While the grass really only lives for about one to three years, the continuous cycle of maintenance can make it look like the green as a whole is going to last forever.
Unfortunately, this process is more complicated than it looks. Maintaining a natural putting green involves mowing, aerating, fertilizing, re-seeding, weeding, and re-shaping continuously if you want to keep it functioning well.
This might be worth the effort in some parts of the world that lend themselves naturally to grass, reducing cost, but natural putting greens are vulnerable when conditions are tough.
In deserts, drought-ridden areas, or freezing climates, live-grass putting greens last for a long time as long as your maintenance is good.
Maintaining a Live Grass Putting Green
If you’ve ever tried to maintain in your home, you know what a hassle it can be to keep grass alive. The process is even more complicated for a putting green.
Initial Cost of Installation
The initial cost of installing real putting green is much lower than the cost of installing artificial turf. For many golf course managers, this is the deciding factor.
Keeping the Grass Alive
This is where the main expense happens. Putting green lawns need to be kept very short through frequent trimmings, as well as fertilized regularly, aerated, watered, and kept free of pests. Gophers, insects, and fungus are all threats to live putting greens.
While this may be worthwhile in regions where the grass is easier to maintain, like New England or parts of the midwest, the cost of water alone can be a deal-breaker in places like California or Arizona.
Why Are Grass Putting Greens Still Used?
Tradition is the first reason. Many golfers feel that their games will be influenced by a change in green. While this has proven to be untrue, the feeling persists.
The cost of changing to an artificial green is the second reason.
Finally, microplastics are an increasing environmental concern, and artificial turf contributes to this issue because of the breakdown of materials with frequent use and cleaning. There is a tradeoff of water use in drought-stricken areas with the risk of long-term environmental impact.
Maintaining Artificial Grass Putting Greens
There are advantages to using artificial grass putting green, but those depend on how well that artificial grass is maintained.
Get High-Quality Artificial Putting Greens
When you’re running a golf course, putting green is not the thing to get cheap about. You get what you pay for. Make sure to choose a high-quality artificial lawn that has a warranty, the right kind of grass for your area, and any other features you feel you might need.
When you choose a lawn, you’re also choosing a business. Read online reviews and ask other golf courses if they’d recommend the artificial lawn company they chose. When you’re making a fifteen-year commitment, make sure it’s a good one!
Get a Warranty
Life happens, whether you want it to or not, and it can get painfully expensive. A warranty can soften the blow and help you avoid replacing the lawn too early.
Be sure to look at the warranty closely before you get too excited about buying a particular lawn. Not all warranties are created equal. It’s a good idea to be fully informed about what you are getting yourself into, what the warranty can and can’t cover, and any additional costs if damages were to occur.
Get Routine Checkups and Cleaning
The cleaner and better maintained your artificial putting green is, the longer it will last. Dirt, rocks, and other debris wear on artificial grass, and it can’t grow out to repair itself. Golfers also hate playing on dirty putting greens, so you’ll be improving your business while protecting your investment.
Routine checkups can also reveal unnoticed damages and, depending on your warranty, can help you get said damages fixed immediately. It’s cheaper to repair a small tear or melted patch than to reshape an entire section of the golf course.