Feature Article - January 2011
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Maintenance Series: Sports Turf

Toughen Up Your Turf

By Dawn Klingensmith

One such treatment is an anti-static spray for player comfort. Synthetic turf fields produce static, but it's controllable.

Like natural turf, synthetic turf occasionally requires topdressing on areas that have lost crumb rubber.

Like their natural counterparts, synthetic sport fields are also subject to wear patterns, which careful maintenance can slow or prevent.

For example, "Wear and tear is an issue in the lacrosse goalie areas because a lacrosse goalie is constantly in the circle during all practice and competition," Maynard said. "So this area is the first to wear out and typically has the lowest level of infill on the field.

"The best way to prolong the turf as a whole is to use the entire space on the field by changing up your drills to encompass the entire field. Lacrosse goals, baseball running paths and pitcher's mounds usually need to be replaced before the entire field is removed."

Carefully maintained synthetic turf may provide 10 to 15 years of playability. It certainly won't last forever, no matter how diligent a turf manager tries to be.

It is highly recommended that synthetic turf sport fields undergo G Max testing because the hardness or softness of the surface affects player safety and field owner liability. G Max testing measures the shock absorption of sports surfaces. Test results indicate how much shock an athlete absorbs on impact with the field. The higher the G Max value, the harder the field, which can pose a threat to players.

G Max values rise in accordance with high usage, compaction and infill segregation. Grooming and top dressing can go a long way toward keeping G Max values within the optimal range. It is recommended that fields be tested by a service provider that is in compliance with ASTM standards.

Other reasons for G Max testing are to make certain the turf is performing in accordance with the manufacturer's standards and warranty and to detect potential problems before they become critical.

G Max testing also provides owners with written documentation of a field's condition, which is a valuable asset if faced with litigation.

Whether a field is natural or synthetic, one of the trustiest maintenance tools for the turf manager is communication. "One of the biggest things I find helpful is networking with peers and staying educated about the latest advances. Professional associations are a big help," Pinsonneault said.

As previously discussed, communication along with cooperation and coordination must occur among turf managers, program directors, coaches, players and even the general public. But though this team approach serves a turf manager well, a "home field" mentality does not. However fierce the rivalry is between sports teams, "Call your peers in neighboring towns and find out how they're doing things," Pinsonneault suggested.

After all, in the event of a turf disease outbreak, a drought or some other challenge, you will all be squaring off against a shared opponent.

Editor's Note

Welcome to the first installment in our Maintenance Series. We will regularly bring you information on keeping your facilities performing at their optimum, from sports fields to playgrounds, and pools to parks.

Do you have a driving facility maintenance need? Let us know about it at editor@recmanagement.com.