Will Fake Grass Ever Replace Natural Turf in Professional Golf?

Jul 02, 2020 People in a golf field with red and white umbrellas

Artificial grass has made major advances in recent years, and many indoor golf facilities and courses in drought-stricken areas have solid reasons to consider fake grass playing surfaces. However, there are a number of disadvantages to playing golf on an artificial surface, which leads many to believe that natural grass will never be replaced at the professional level.

Let’s delve beneath the surface and discuss why real grass is deeply rooted in the tradition and sport of professional golf.

Why Professional Golfers Prefer Natural Grass

New artificial turf looks good from a distance and holds up to traffic, but the golfer’s intimate involvement with the surface texture, the lay of the land, the wind direction, and the grain of the grass puts the fake replacement under close scrutiny. Some of the reasons golf professionals prefer real turf under their cleats include:1

  • Heat underfoot. Artificial turf collects and holds heat faster than real grass, and it quickly heats up in direct sunlight. This heat can be felt through golf shoes, and feet grow more uncomfortable as the round goes on. This is less of a problem in an indoor golf simulator than outdoors under the sun.
  • Aches and pains. Many golfers complain of joint pain and muscle strain after playing on artificial surfaces, perhaps because the fake grass is typically laid over concrete or hard rubber. Playing golf on a hard substrate may put more impact pressure on the body, causing soreness in arms, wrists, shoulders, and ankles.
  • Damage to golf clubs. Artificial grass with a solid substrate beneath can swipe the head right off a beloved iron if a swing is less than perfect. Natural grass and soil provide less resistance to a powerful golf swing and are believed to extend the life of your golf clubs.
  • Building bad habits. Many professional and semi-professional golfers find that practicing on a driving range that has a perfect artificial surface leads to habits which do not work on the golf course. A perfect swing on artificial turf does not translate to the perfect drive on the back nine, reducing the value of practice on a driving range with an artificial surface.

female golfer wearing a pink skirt

Groundskeeping Costs and Considerations

Golf course owners and groundskeepers work hard to keep pace with environmental concerns, player preferences, and their bottom lines when choosing between real and artificial turf for their members and visiting tournament players. Some of the factors to consider include:

  • The cost and availability of water, and the feasibility of water recycling or drought-tolerant grass selection.
  • The run-off from artificial grass, which may include rubber crumbs and materials that will not biodegrade versus the potential for fertilizer run-off from a natural grass golf course.
  • The higher cost of artificial grass installation, with an expected re-installation and disposal of artificial materials on a 10-15 year interval.
  • Potential odor buildup in artificial grass that is exposed to wet conditions or food and drink spills.

When the Grass Is Greener Elsewhere

Newer, high-tech artificial grass can mimic the varying textured grasses for a better virtual golf experience, and it will always have a place in allowing an enjoyable golfing experience in places where grass will not grow. Virtual golf centers with top-of-the-line performance simulators can even emulate the conditions on professional courses around the world, right down to weather and air density.

If your business wants to provide access to 18 rounds on a famous course far away or a virtual driving range that truly benefits players when they play on grass, Foresight Sports offers the answer. Foresight’s Performance Simulators and Total RangeTM technology provide the most realistic and game-improving virtual experience available.

Contact Foresight Sports today to find out how their simulators can help you or your customers virtually play the best professional courses and improve games all year long.


  1. https://collegeofgolf.keiseruniversity.edu/driving-range-mats-vs-grass//