Par For The Course

The grass is greener on home landscape projects — including this backyard golf green — where artificial turf is a key player.
Homeowners are opting into artificial turf not only for golf course installations but for landscaping purposes as well.
Photography by Tony Valainis/Indianapolis Monthly

Depending on who you ask, Central Indiana residents might define a perfect summer morning in a variety of ways. Some homeowners, for example, enjoy a cup of coffee and then a quick walk off their back decks to the links to start the day. They have no need for golf carts or caddies. They’re happy with the simple tranquility of swinging a golf club and the satisfying thwack of the ball leaving the tee and soaring through the air. With a golf green right in the backyard, there’s no worrying about the ball disappearing into a forest or
nearby pond.

Russ Greene, owner of Greene Exterior Design, has watched the artificial turf trend for home landscaping projects explode over the last few years, reaching a peak during the pandemic. “It catapulted interest in golf into the stratosphere,” Greene says. “People quickly realized they could play golf and social distance easily.” That popularity created demand in the marketplace—clients not only wanted to play the game, but they wanted a worry-free space to practice.

Greene recently installed an artificial turf golf green for a Carmel attorney with the goal of bringing a little slice of Crooked Stick Golf Club to the family’s yard.

The client wanted a place to practice the game he loves, hitting a huge variety of short game shots, with the green mimicking real course conditions. “My short game stinks,” the client laughs. “As they say, desperate times call for desperate measures.”

Greene created a setup for the family to work through pitching longer wedge shots from 75-90 yards, closer wedge shots from 35-50 yards from a variety of different angles, short and long greenside bunker shots, pitches and runs, flop shots, and everything in between from both short and deep rough areas.

Artificial turf installation are not limited to golf greens, but also pickle ball courts and more.
Photography by Tony Valainis/Indianapolis Monthly

An avid golfer himself, Greene spent the last several years honing his craft to help him better collaborate with customers to create truly unique backyard setups. The client did some research and contacted Greene, who took the client on a field trip to three completed in-home golf green installations and let him tee off. “That firsthand experience from these projects gave us a sense of what we liked most about his prior work,” the client says. “When Russ started asking us questions about the design or where holes should be cut, how deep the rough should be, how severe a break should be, we just kept repeating, ‘Build it like you would for yourself, Russ!’” Artificial turf installation requests these days aren’t limited just to the links. Greene describes a recent project that included bocce ball and pickleball courts and a whiffle ball tee, in addition to a golf green. He says the family wanted to get their kids outside and away from screens.

Greene also points to turf as a great option for man’s best friend. “I’ve installed dog and pet runs,” he says. “These projects minimize the amount of mud your dog will track into the house because artificial turf drains naturally and quickly. That’s a win for everyone, really.”

Greene says clients are opting for artificial turf even for basic home landscaping. He points to his own yard as an example. “I realized I was spending hours of my weekends just on basic maintenance,” he says. “Artificial turf always looks good and cuts yard work time significantly. I now have more time with my family.”

Whether the new backyard golf green in Carmel has improved the client’s golf game remains to be seen. But anything that brings family together to enjoy the outdoors is a definite hole-in-one.