How Jaco van Zyl’s practice green was built.
Adream of any keen golfer is to have a green in the backyard where you can practice your chipping and putting while at home, or have fun games when your mates are around.
European Tour pro Jaco van Zyl, the Eye of Africa PGA champion in 2016, wanted a green built at his Benoni small holding where he could simulate the green speeds he encounters week in and week out on the tour. Southwest Putting Greens (SWG) have a “pro system” green which can do this. They started the project in October, and it took 12 days to complete.
The site for the green was established by calculating which area would be able to accommodate shots from various positions on a generous piece of property. This gave SWG the framework for a green design.The optimal design allowed space for a 250-square metre green, including first and second cut, incorporating an additional 25-square metre bunker.
SWG has an exclusive alliance with Nicklaus Design and utilise their design principals in synthetic green installations. It has developed a range of Golden Bear synthetic turf products. Designs are done in a CAD programme. Parameters include the synthetic turf roll widths and lengths, to optimise turf usage and minimise wastage.
The area where Van Zyl’s green would be installed was first stripped of grass and excavated. A root barrier was inserted around the curved extremities of the green to a depth of 300 mm, and graded crusher stone spread across the surface as the first level, then compacted to allow permeation of surface water through the base. The accepted rate is 160 litres per hour per square metre.
The second level comprised 50mm of screeding with crushed granite rock. It is graded with special rakes, compacted, and smoothed by hand to eliminate ridges and troughs. This base provides the integrity to the green and attention is paid to getting all levels perfect. Stainless steel sleeves are inserted and secured into the base to house the putting cups.
A proprietary closed cell polyurethane cushion with 10mm of density forms the under liner to the synthetic turf. This product is key in ensuring that the green is soft and the silica sand infill remains particle in nature and does not compact.The cushion system allows shots to react and spin.
The putting turf, made from a lead-free and environmentally friendly polypropylene polymer, was laid on top of the cushion. The seams are cut to fit perfectly, so no joins are evident.The green’s extremities are shaped with a knife to mirror the design diagram’s perfectly rounded edges.
Infill of the green and fringes is done with a specific grade of silica sand, using a drop spreader, and the sand brushed evenly into the turf using power brooms. The process is repeated seven times, before the fibres of the turf are almost filled to the brim. Some 30kg per square metre of infill weighs down the turf to provide stability and longevity.
The final layer of silica sand is dyed with a green pigment, for a natural look. Holes are cut in the turf and cups set into the stainless steel sleeves. For the green to have a smooth, non-brushlike quality, the exposed fibres are rolled for an hour, creating the perfect surface for a ball to roll on. The silica sand and cushion allow shots to spin and react like they would on a natural green.
The cost of a dream backyard green works out at R1 500 a square metre. Southwestgreens.co.za
Jaco van Zyl’s Benoni home, with the newly installed Southwest Greens practice area near his pool.