Date: Mon 12 Aug 2019

The ROI of Synthetic Solutions

EIGCA Silver Partners Southwest Greens Construction has been at the forefront of the development of synthetic solutions for golf for the past 10 years.

A great example of this history is what was installed 10 years ago at Golf de Louvigny, near Caen, France, a 6-hole compact course and driving range. One of the first for SWG compact facilities after the successful realization of Jiva Hill in 2008 that took the Industry by storm. The owners, Maxime Morel and Christophe Durier, were pioneers and were on the forefront of the many facilities that would follow from the Ryder Cup initiative in France.

A great example of the 100 facilities realized from that program, and the success of Louvigny paved the way for many other facilities across France to choose synthetic turf systems on tees, greens, and bunkers. In fact, it was confirmed that 30 percent of the 100 venues chose to work with synthetic systems versus natural grass.

The main reasons to go synthetic are maintenance efficiencies and water savings. Initial ROI was based upon 8-10 years longevity of the product. But not to be understated is the fact that synthetics only function when the product installed gives performance - we see the success of synthetic greens based on how they look over time but more important how they perform over time. The SWG product focuses on the 3 B’s of ball performance – ball roll, ball bounce, and ball bite, as that is what counts for the consumer.

There are pros and cons to any innovation and although our objective is to mimic natural grass we learned over the years the importance of maintaining the synthetic surface, and have subsequently spent a great deal of R&D to improve and innovate ways to keep the surfaces fresh over time. We have learned that the “daily maintenance of synthetic systems is a very small fraction of the natural counterpart, especially when we compare to USGA. Many of the 30 facilities mentioned above are a success because of a performing system that is maintained over time, while many others have failed because of a poorly performing system that is not maintained to a minimum standard.

So initially choosing the right raw materials and installation methods help achieve the objective and support the healthy ROI case. Unfortunately, we still see low quality systems that do not get close to meeting this standard. The good news is that with new material developments from SWG and “own-built” machinery, coupled with modern maintenance methods we have learned that we will be able to extend the lifespan of the synthetic system whilst controlling performance up to 15 years. That is a big positive for the investor as depreciation of the initial investment will be greatly improved. Changing weather, more complex challenges in the golf course setting make considering synthetic solutions as viable.

The industry is growing, and the time of pioneering is behind us with many more facilities willing to look at synthetics as a part of their business plan and operational strategy.

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