Guest Column - March 2011
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Sports Fields

Clearing the Clutter
What Matters Most in an Artificial Turf System

By Darren Gill

Heavyweight systems are also called "wide gauge turf systems." Gauge refers to the distance between the rows of fibers in a turf carpet. Wide gauge turf systems allow for more than 9 pounds of infill between the turf fibers for every square foot of your field—significantly more than the typical 3 to 5 pounds of infill in a lightweight turf system. This gauge of ľ inch between rows is the ideal spacing for cleat penetration.

The tighter gauge used by most companies means that the rows of turf are closer together. Much less infill can fit between the turf fibers, making it more difficult for the athlete to get solid footing—causing slippage.

Consider the fact that more than half of the NFL teams that play their home games on artificial turf play on a wide gauge turf system. Over 85 percent of Division 1-A football teams that play their home games on artificial turf play on a wide gauge system. Additionally, every Major League Soccer team that plays home games on artificial turf has chosen a wide gauge system.

The choice is clear: Athletes, who seek the safest and highest-performing surface, prefer heavyweight wide-gauge turf systems.

Most companies will spend time trying to convince you that "more fiber is better." You will soon grow tired of learning industry terms like "pile weight" and "face weight" of turf surfaces.

The only weight that matters is the total weight of the turf system (turf + infill included). Heavyweight turf systems are double the weight of most other turf products. A typical 80,000-square-foot field will contain approximately 400,000 pounds more material than a competitor's fiber-filled product.

Why does a turf system's total weight matter?

Simply because the composition of materials used in a turf system is directly related to the most important numbers in our industry: Numbers relating to safety.