When M3M Club opens their synthetic 9 hole course this September, it will not only be India’s newest golf property; it will also be the first anywhere to deploy synthetic turf through the green.
The 9-hole, par-3 layout at M3M, in addition to its 9-hole putting course and driving range, are entirely “grassed” with a lush-green product produced by FieldTurf from Tarkett Inc., that has supplied its product to some 7,000 sports facilities worldwide.
Golf has been far slower than football and soccer to adopt FieldTurf as a viable alternative to organic turf. But the M3M project illustrates why its advent in the golf context is no longer a question of why, but rather a when and where.
“We went synthetic here for a lot of reasons,” says Golfplan partner Kevin Ramsey (pictured above putting on the M3M’s putting course), who cranes his neck to peer up at one of M3M’s two 35-storey towers, just as the late-afternoon sun ducks behind it.
“That’s one reason right there: The shade created by these high-rises would have made it quite difficult to grow and maintain healthy turf here, no matter what varietal was chosen.”
“But mainly, it’s for the residents. This FieldTurf will always look good. There will be no dormancy, no off-color in the off-season. The trees will lose their leaves but residents will always look down from the 33rd floor and see this beautiful, lush-green courtyard with pins, 100 percent of the time.”
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6-hole short course in Hong Kong
While one FieldTurf competitor, Southwest Greens, has furnished product to the 6-hole short course at the Hong Kong Golf & Tennis Academy (and to an in-range practice loop at Golf Up, soon to debut in St. Tropez, France), the M3M project will debut as golf’s first fully synthetic, stand-alone 9. This makes pioneers of Ramsey and his firm, Santa Rosa, California-based Golfplan.
For the past 40 years, in countries new to the game of golf, Golfplan has often been the first to arrive and the last to leave. All told, the firm has created more than 217 courses in 32 different countries (counting renovations, it’s 75 countries). In many of these far-flung locations, like Tunisia, Bali, Myanmar, Uganda, Mongolia, Nepal, Golfplan created the very first modern golf course, or the first public course.
“Prepping the subgrade for golf holes designed for FieldTurf is pretty similar to the normal course of events,” said Ramsey, who arrived in Delhi for this M3M site visit after meetings in Turkey and the former Soviet Republic of Georgia.
In Turkey, Golfplan will design the country’s first municipal course, at Samsun on the Black Sea; in Georgia, Ramsey will design the country’s very first course of international standard.
“Here at M3M we installed a compacted sub-layer comprised of two separate gravels, then a sand layer and shock pad. It’s all been perimeter drained. You don’t want herringbone drainage because if that settles in an awkward way, you’d have to peel back the turf, address the issue and re-stitch. With this medium, it’s all about minimizing seams.
The seam on no. 9 at M3M, a lovely mid-length par-3 to a raised green guarded by a series of fronting bunkers, has been knitted together just fine apparently. Ramsey checks another on the far side of the putting surface and looks back down the fairway to the tee. He nods his head in approval. The architect has developed what appears to be a grudging respect for the synthetic surface he has deployed here.
“I’ve hit off the stuff. I’ve played shots into these greens — it performs like real turf and it looks great,” he says. “The greens were designed just like they would on championship course, a bit smaller maybe, because these are all par-3s. But the green contour is real.”