Why golf greens are about to become better than ever

Modern turf management practices are raising the standards for golfers. 

Andy Roberts's picture
Tue, 18 Jul 2017


Updates in greenkeeping technology are driving the improvement of playing surfaces.

Greenkeeping Lecturer Anthony Stockwell gives us an update on the modern turf management practices that are raising the standards for golfers.


Updates in technology are driving the greenkeeping industry at an accelerated pace. Once keepers of the green used scythes and sheep to keep the turf short.

In this article we look at five major advancements that are pushing the boundaries of turf management, so that golfers particularly of the elite level can play on unbelievably smooth greens and fine fescue fairways.


Machinery has become lighter in weight enabling less compaction to the turf. Super sharp blades are able to cut with the turf with accurate precision.

Maintaining the tools and equipment on a golf course has become easier. Advancements in electrical machinery has enabled smarter and more sustainable use.

Robotic machinery is on the horizon and it won’t be too long until all surfaces on a golf course are cut without the need for an operator.


Turf managers have become obsessed with data collection and measuring the performance of their turf.

These measurements enable the greenkeepers to make informed and accurate decisions. Soil sensors can instantly measure soil moisture, temperature and salinity.

Green smoothness, trueness and speed can all be accurately objectively measured. These readings along with accurate weather forecasts can help them make informed decisions, such as "do we roll greens or mow?"

This aspect will be used a considerable amount at Royal Birkdale for the 146th Open Championship. This will help the greenkeepers give the optimum conditions for the professional golfers.


The history books will tell you of greenkeepers adding seaweed to golf greens during the winter.

However, nowadays, universities are conducting innovative research into the exact science behind this green slime and their benefits to playing surfaces.

In case you were wondering, the exact name of seaweed used in golf goes by ascophyllum nodosum. 

Once formulated and sprayed on to the golf course the substances can provide benefits to the turf including greater tolerance to droughts, pests and diseases - all of which help the golfer enjoy a smooth and consistent playing surface. 


Turfgrass breeding is a marathon task, usually taking over 10 years of arduous scientific work to create a new cultivar of seed.

New seed cultivars are providing golfers with surfaces that are finer and demonstrate greater tolerance of environmental pressures.

The type of grass seed you find on a golf course will certainly not be your average seed you can buy in your local garden centre.


The world of football has been pioneering with expensive technology such as grow lights.

Under soil heating, soil vacuum systems and over ground ventilation to reduce surface and soil moisture. Turf reinforcements system are enabling a greater volume of players to use the surface.

Will these products be used on golf courses? Well, they already are at the elite level. Perhaps, these types of turf products are the future for golf.

However for the time being you won’t find such expensive technology at your local pay and play golf course, if ever at all.