It can be easily argued that the 17th island green on THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass is one of the most recognizable holes in all of golf. But what many don’t realize is the walkway onto the green isn’t grass. It’s synthetic turf.
Due to the frequent foot traffic onto the green via the walkway, if it were natural grass, that parcel would wear out easily and require an extremely high level of maintenance. This hole can make or break a golfer’s round or entire tournament (just ask Sergio Garcia, who won the tournament in 2008 in a sudden-death playoff on No. 17; and lost last year’s event thanks in no small part to a quadruple-bogey on that same hole in the final round). If the ball doesn’t go into the water, drop into the green-side bunker or land on the green, the walkway is fair play. Synthetic turf performs better as a substitute for grass than gravel, which has been used in the past, because it doesn’t change the way the ball reacts.
Ben Collins, owner of the company that installed the turf walkway on the 17th, says he expanded Collins Turf Division from Denver to Jacksonville in 2006 because, “Jacksonville may as well be known as Golf USA.” The company’s project list includes several installs at TPC Sawgrass and many other golf courses, but they also take their turf expertise into the backyards of avid golfers to build private home putting greens.
“With a natural green, you have to grow the grass and mow it ideally every day with a mower that costs around $3,500,” said Collins, “Synthetic turf is a much easier way to beautify the landscape and bring the golf course to your backyard.”
Synthetic turf putting greens are custom designed based on the space available and the breaks sought, as well as for looks – not only on the green but also from inside the house.
The company has mapped out private greens that allow the golfer to achieve every shot they could hit on a course, right in their own backyard. The realistic greens can range in size, are priced around $12 to $15 per square foot and take about a week and-a-half to install.
“Golfers can come home and unwind by tapping a few balls in,” said Collins. “It’s the new 19th hole.”
Collins Turf has even completed backyard putting greens for some recognizable names who, unfortunately, have to remain nameless. (One of them may or may not be a well-known former Florida Gator.)
His company has worked on projects worldwide, but Collins says he’s proud that Collins Turf calls Jacksonville home. They have installed the turf in the courtyard and putting green amenity of the Southbank’s Riverplace Tower, and if your dog has been to Bark on Park in Five Points, it’s had Collins’ turf under its toes.
Someday, he says, he’d like to work on a project like installing a floating barge tee in the St. Johns River. The company even makes it a point to donate leftover remnants locally for events like Putt-n-Crawls and schools such as Terry Parker High.