In the quest to develop a stronger grass plant for customers managing turf on athletic fields, West Coast Turf has been growing sod on plastic for most of the past decade.
This practice prevents cutting the roots at harvest, thus providing a stronger, healthier plant, says Jay Danek, chief executive officer of Palm Desert, California-based West Coast Turf.
"The No. 1 reason we grow sod on plastic is we don't cut the root system off," Danek said. "When you go out into the field and it's 110 degrees and you cut off the roots, the grass can go into shock."
Now, West Coast Turf offers that same stronger, healthier turf to golf course superintendents with what it calls Ready Play Grass.
Once the plastic-grown sod is laid, the full roots that have balled up tamp down and quickly begin to migrate down into the profile saving precious weeks, Danek said.
West Coast Turf has been growing sod on plastic for at least seven years for use on sports fields, and other growers have been doing the same with cool-season turf for twice as long, Danek said. Currently, West Coast Turf is growing several varieties on plastic, including Tahoma 31 and Tifway 419, as well as Zoysiagrasses and paspalum.
Ready Play Grass starts as a sod product that has been through its growing cycle for eight to 12 months, and then another six to 15 months growing on the plastic. It is grown to sod strength and weight so there is no movement, and the way the company harvests allows for tight seams so the rolls mesh together perfectly.
"Right now, some golf courses in Northern California are using it on driving range tees and greens," Danek said. "A lot of courses change out every two or three years, and then you have to stay off the tees for two or three weeks. Or at least you should in a perfect world.
"This way, you never cut the roots and there is no lost time."
According to WCT, it now is in the ground in various applications at many golf courses in California, including Pebble Beach, Torrey Pines, Valley Club of Montecito and Lahontan, as well as TPC Scottsdale in Arizona.
West Coast Turf's sod on plastic has been grown on several high-profile athletic fields, including Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the Rose Bowl, Sun Devil Stadium at Arizona State University, Dodger Stadium, Anaheim Stadium and more.