Artificial turf has come a long way over the past decade. The pros who serve the pro leagues walk us through.
With more than 3,000 successful installations, Shaw Sports Turf is leading the way toward a future where synthetic turf athletic fields outnumber natural ones. Given the versatility of different turf systems, they pride themselves on helping customers pick the best fit for their field throughout the entire process. As a former natural grass specialist, Philipe Aldahir has been on the other team. But now, as the company’s director of research and innovation, he knows turf deserves a chance to be king of the court. Here, Aldahir explains why turf may be the perfect fit for your next project.
Artificial turf has evolved as a system, and these days, the playability it offers can be comparable to natural grass. I don’t think high performance was a possibility with turf back in the day. Now it’s demonstrably better than what it was 10 years ago. Considering that and the functionality of artificial turf, it can’t be overlooked.
The number one thing to consider is the functionality of having a consistent field. If you think about your average municipal field, sportsplex, high school, or community center—if those fields are natural grass, they may not receive the maintenance they need to remain a good playing surface. Artificial turf offers a big advantage over those kinds of systems because it provides that consistency of play, instead of becoming a mudhole, weedy, or agronomically unsafe. If you have to grow grass, you’re at the mercy of Mother Nature, but with synthetic turf, the consistency is already there.
But not all turf is made to perform as well as Shaw Sports Turf. With Shaw, you can design turf systems with entry-level playability, advanced playability, or with world-class elite playability. The way you do that is by turning the knobs of the components you install—what type of subbase, underlayment, turf fiber, and infill. You can have extreme performance in artificial turf. Our professional teams gravitate toward those systems, and they play very close to natural grass.
I’m understanding and dispelling turf myths as I work in this industry. I used to be a natural grass specialist, and now that I’m on the other side with artificial turf, I’m learning a lot. When I was in natural grass, turf was an afterthought. It was there, but it wasn’t the focus. I think that has changed because the popularity and performance of the systems have increased greatly. We have been dedicating a lot of research, development, and innovation resources toward this. I don’t see it as grass versus turf anymore; I see it as grass and turf. They coexist.