How Jaco van Zyl’s prac­tice green was built.

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Contents -

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. South­west­

Jaco van Zyl’s Benoni home, with the newly in­stalled South­west Greens prac­tice area near his pool.

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