GO­ING GREEN

Some peo­ple dream of con­vert­ing part of their yard into a putting sur­face, but this cou­ple fol­lowed through

Edmonton Journal - - HOMES - LAURA SEVERS

It wasn’t part of their orig­i­nal ren­o­va­tion plans, but Rob and Glenda Hodge have joined a grow­ing num­ber of Ed­mon­to­ni­ans who have in­stalled a putting green in their back­yard.

The Hodges be­gan by ren­o­vat­ing their White­mud Hills home in south­west Edmonton, and once the work had been com­pleted they ex­panded their fo­cus to the back­yard.

“We had the inside done — we had wanted to mod­ern­ize it, to give it a facelift — and we looked out­side and thought the same thing: that the out­side looked tired,” said Glenda.

While Rob is an avid golfer and Glenda had joined a putting league, the idea of adding a putting green hadn’t been part for their out­door ob­jec­tives. It wasn’t even on their radar. But once their land­scaper made the sug­ges­tion they de­cided it was a nat­u­ral thing to fol­low through on.

“It’s some­thing peo­ple dream of but most never ac­tu­ally do,” said Marc Mercier, owner of St. Al­bert­based Yard Art Land­scap­ing, not­ing that the com­pany has an­other two clients who are also hav­ing a res­i­den­tial putting green in­stalled.

The Hodges called in Mercier to take their ex­ist­ing deck, gazebo, and a small stream and give the out­door space a facelift — or, as the Hodges pre­fer to call it, a “yardlift.” Yard Art Land­scap­ing ex­panded the pa­tio, in­jected new life into the stream, added a tiki torch light, and re­placed the ex­ist­ing nat­u­ral grass with ar­ti­fi­cial turf. The ar­ti­fi­cial grass — which re­quires no main­te­nance, wa­ter­ing or fer­til­iz­ing, and of course, no mow­ing — was an early con­sid­er­a­tion for the Hodges.

“Rob wanted it (the out­door land­scap­ing pro­ject) as close to main­te­nance-free as pos­si­ble so he would have more time to golf,” said Glenda.

But nei­ther Rob nor Glenda orig­i­nally thought that ad­di­tional time for golf would see ei­ther one of them tak­ing chip shots or sink­ing putts on their own back­yard three-hole putting green.

Mea­sur­ing ap­prox­i­mately 16 feet long by 12 feet wide, the putting green and its three mini flag sticks also in­cludes LED lights to il­lu­mi­nate each hole, so their putting time isn’t lim­ited to day­light hours. A fringe — or higher level of ar­ti­fi­cial grass — sur­rounds the putting green, giv­ing it a re­al­is­tic look and feel that al­lows for prac­tic­ing chip shots. There’s also a basalt stone bench with a smooth pol­ished top that pro­vides seat­ing for three on the edge of the green.

GET­TING HOOKED

If the in­ter­est in back­yard putting greens is an in­di­ca­tor, lo­cal golfers will def­i­nitely be im­prov­ing their short game and, in turn, their golf scores.

“The de­mand for (res­i­den­tial) putting greens is def­i­nitely get­ting stronger,” said Colleen Kwiatkowski, man­ager of Burnco’s west Edmonton land­scape cen­tre. “Sales over the last three years have in­creased by 50 per cent. A lot of peo­ple who were just go­ing to put in ar­ti­fi­cial turf are now adding putting greens.”

Burnco, which supplied the Bella Turf ar­ti­fi­cial grass to Yard Art Land­scap­ing for the Hodges’ pro­ject, claims that the over­all prod­uct has im­proved over time as in­ter­est has grown.

“The qual­ity is very good,” said Kwiatkowski. “It doesn’t have a straight blade, it has a U-shaped or V-shaped blade so it re­flects the sun prop­erly. It doesn’t give you that shiny look that al­most looked like car­pet. Now the prod­uct is far bet­ter and looks more nat­u­ral.”

Burnco has been sell­ing the Bella Turf line — a Cana­dian com­pany based out of Sur­rey, B.C. — for about five years, with the putting greens com­ing into play ap­prox­i­mately three years ago. But it’s not just golf afi­ciona­dos who are opt­ing to switch from grass to ar­ti­fi­cial turf. Kwiatkowski said the prod­uct is also be­ing used for land­scap­ing up­per-end homes.

“Some home­own­ers will just do their front yard so it will look nice all the time, but a lot will do both the front and back,” said Kwiatkowski. “Peo­ple who have larger lawns will tend to do the putting greens, but the Hodges’ home is a per­fect ex­am­ple of uti­liz­ing a smaller space. They didn’t have a larger lawn but they did add a putting green.”

LAURA SEVERS

“The game of golf is won on the chip­ping and putting,” says Rob Hodge who had a three-hole putting green in­stalled in his back­yard.

PHOTOS: LAURA SEVERS

Each of the three holes on the Hodges’ back­yard putting green has LED light­ing inside the cup. Marc Mercier, seen us­ing a power broom, is the owner of St. Al­bert-based Yard Art Land­scap­ing. The com­pany in­stalled a three-hole putting green in the Hodges’ back­yard.

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