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04-15-2020

HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST ARTIFICIAL GRASS FOR A PUTTING GREEN

Installing a high-quality backyard putting green is a great way to up your short game and your home’s value. Whether a small practice green that saves you trips to the driving range (and money spent on green fees) or a custom recreational feature the whole family can enjoy, artificial putting greens are a hot commodity among golf aficionados, and for good reason.

What, exactly, makes synthetic turf an intuitive pick for home putting greens? We know that artificial grass looks great year-round (and doesn’t require any pesticides, costly water bills, or frequent mowing to look that way). But ease of maintenance and modern turf’s increasingly life-like appeal aren’t all that matter here. To really practice your finesse shots, you’re going to need a surface that performs well, too. 

A well-installed artificial turf and infill system bypasses the pitfalls of a natural grass putting green by offering a predictably smooth, durable, and weather-resistant surface. And with the benefit of a quality synthetic turf infill’s shock absorption and turf fiber stabilization, you’ll get a ball roll and speed control that closely mimics natural grass — which, after all, is the surface you’re trying to improve your play on. The only difference is that artificial turf gives you the same predictable playability of the putting green at the course without the need to employ a small army for upkeep. We’d call that a hole-in-one!

All that said, if you’re dreaming about bringing the putting green home — and what golfer isn’t? — know that not all artificial turf types will meet your needs equally. For a backyard putting green oasis that plays as good as it looks, there are some differences to keep in mind and tips you’ll need to know in order to choose the right synthetic turf and infill. 

Our team of turf experts at Motz is here to help. To start with, we’ll break down the differences between recreational and professional artificial turf. Then, we’ll answer what type of artificial grass is best for putting greens at home, what length and thickness it should be, and what type of infill pairs with putting green turf best. 

Ready to tee off?

Recreational vs. Professional Artificial Turf: Which Do You Need?

What should you consider when planning an artificial putting green in your backyard? Well, that depends on whether you’re a leisure golfer or a professional golfer. Pro golfers will require a different level of play and system than a hobbyist. They’ll also typically require premium installation skills, so remember to choose an installation partner with experience creating your desired type of artificial putting green system. 

Are you a leisure golfer who still likes the sound of a putting green the pros would play on? To figure out which type of putting green turf you really need, let’s look at the four major differences between professional and recreational artificial grass putting greens.

#1: Chipping distance of an artificial putting green

Recreational: The chipping distance is much shorter on this type of green because there’s less sand and less cushion layer for the ball to grab. The result is a ball that bounces off of the green if you are chipping from too far away.

Professional: The chipping distance on a professional-style putting green can extend up to 50 or even 100 yards whereas a recreational green will mostly be used for practice immediately around the green.

#2 Maintenance of an artificial putting green

Recreational: Synthetic turf putting greens used for leisure are easier to maintain than professional-level greens because the turf fibers are crimped (textured). There’s no routine maintenance to roll the turf, since you can’t adjust the turf fiber on this type of system.

Professional: On professional-style greens, the turf will need to be rolled extensively before completing the system. You can do this by using a flat roller filled with water over the putting green surface. Ask your installation provider for the proper technique.

Competitive players are usually more meticulous and their greens endure more usage, meaning a professional-level green is going to require more surface grooming, brushing, and leveling out of the infill layers over time. Additionally, more maintenance, rolling, and ball play on your putting green will create a tighter and smoother surface.

#3 Stimp of an artificial putting green

Recreational: When it comes to speed, the average ball speed will likely be 8-11 stimp on recreational putting green turf.

Professional: On professional-style greens, the stimp rating is likely to increase to 10-13. Given that the higher the stimp speed of a rolling ball, the more it realistically mimics a golf course, it’s no surprise many pros favor this style of backyard putting green.

#4 Cost of an artificial putting green

According to Home Advisor, the average cost in 2024 of installing a medium, 200-square-foot putting green is $4,300, with most contractors charging between $15 and $40 per square foot. The pricing fluctuation largely comes down to the type and amount of materials used — in the next section, we’ll answer the age-old question: which is better, nylon or poly putting greens? — but in general, a professional-level backyard putting green will cost you anywhere from 20 to 50% more than one made for leisure

Details can add to your cost as well, and there’s no shortage of them to choose from. Depending on your budget, you could add a layer of challenge or visual landscaping interest to your artificial putting green with everything from multiple holes and water hazards to bunkers, sand traps, lighting fixtures, and green contours. An experienced installer can help you take advantage of your space’s natural topography, too, turning existing slopes, trees, and ponds into additional short game challenges.

Outside of your desired detail level, the biggest cost difference often comes down to the type of artificial turf you use. We’ll take a look at that next.

Putting green with Envirofill turf infill installed by Keepers Turf

WHAT TYPE OF ARTIFICIAL GRASS IS BEST FOR PUTTING GREENS? AND WHAT LENGTH SHOULD IT BE?

Whether you’re looking to socialize more outdoors with friends and family or want the convenience of finessing your short game from home, the best type of artificial grass for a backyard putting green is texturized; has a short pile (or height of turf blade), with a height of 3/8” to 5/8” (or 1/2”); features a good face weight/density; offers UV protection; and uses a slit film turf fiber

We recommend opting for a slim film turf fiber, whether your turf is made from poly or nylon materials. What’s the difference between poly and nylon, you ask? And which is better for an artificial putting green

  • Poly, or polypropylene, closely mirrors the look and feel of real grass. Poly fibers are known for their resistance to fading and UV degradation, although they’re ultimately not as durable as nylon and can be more prone to matting. Still, due to their realistic look and, compared to nylon, affordability, they’re a popular choice for residential landscaping projects, including putting greens.
  • Nylon is commonly found in larger-scale artificial turf applications where high foot traffic is expected. With more resilient fibers that offer greater abrasion resistance than poly fibers, nylon is often favored by golf pros and is, relatedly, more expensive. 

Our two cents: Though it may be more durable, we don’t think nylon is outright required for a backyard putting green to have high playability. What matters more is the quality of your artificial putting turf’s infill and installation. We’ll look at infill next. 

WHAT INFILL SHOULD I USE FOR MY ARTIFICIAL PUTTING GREEN?

And while we’re talking about it: why is infill such a critical component of a durable, high-performance backyard putting green anyway? 

For artificial grass, infill plays the role that soil would and is critical to keeping your turf fibers upright — which, in turn, is critical to ensuring a good ball roll and gameplay. The weight infill adds helps artificial grass look and feel more realistic, and it also prevents wrinkles and warping from impacting your turf system over time. Considering that even a small inconsistency in smoothness can throw off your putting game, choosing the right synthetic turf infill (and working with a vetted installer) can make all the difference between a backyard feature you’ll love using and one that collects leaves. For an infill that keeps your putting green perfectly playable, we recommend Envirofill.. That’s because Envirofill:

  • Fights mold and mildew which is a common problem in putting green systems
  • Creates an attractive vibrant green aesthetic
  • Helps with ball speed and ball roll consistency

Professional-style putting greens require a ballast, five to seven pounds of turf infill per square foot. We recommend installing clean-washed, kiln-dried, subangular sand underneath your Envirofill turf infill as well as adding a top dressing of Envirofill 16/30, a blend of black and green colored sand (one pound per square foot).

Leisure golfers will require less Envirofill for their artificial grass putting greens compared to professional golfers. If you’re building a recreational putting green, you can plan to use two to four pounds of Envirofill per square foot.

Application RatesTurf Pile Height Turf SpecInfill Depth LBS. Per SQFT
Envirofill 30-501/2″Leisure Putting Green7/16″ – 1/2″2-3 LBS
Envirofill 30-505/8″Leisure Putting Green9/16″ – 5/8″3-4 LBS
Envirofill 16-301 – 1 1/4″Professional Putting Green1/4″ (Top Dressed)0.5 -1 LBS

Use our map to find your nearest Envirofill distributor.

FOR HIGH-PERFORMANCE PUTTING GREENS THAT LAST, WORK WITH A VETTED INSTALLER

We all get the do-it-yourself itch sometimes. But no matter your type and style of artificial putting green, the truth is that you’ll set yourself up for success by working with a vetted installer. Putting green installations don’t leave much room for error if you want a durable, perfectly smooth surface that you can reliably play on. An experienced installer will work with you to recommend materials for your specific space, climate, and intended putting green use, and they’ll make sure it’s all executed the way it needs to be. To vet your installer, you can start by asking them: 

  • How many installations have you completed?
  • Do you outsource, or do you have your own team of installers?
  • Can you provide references or case studies?
  • What types of turfs do you work with, and which is best for me?
  • What are the different infills you can use on my project?

A knowledgeable installation team with the right specifications are critical to the longevity and quality of your putting green.

If you have questions about the technical details, you can always reach out to a turf expert at Motz. We’d love to guide you through the process and make your putting green as enjoyable as possible. In the meantime, you can read more of our tips for increasing your home’s value with a top-tier synthetic turf putting green.

You might also request a sample of Motz infill perfect for at-home putting greens for leisure golfers or download our CAD drawing.

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