Where the Carolina-born turf meets the Carolina clay

The U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open in Pinehurstin June will no doubt inspire the amateurs among us to sharpen up their own games. Shane Ferguson is counting on it. When  he’s not playing the game himself or competing in long-drive tournaments, the 45-year-old Raleigh resident is building putt-
ing greens for a living. He’s been in the business since 1996.

“I was looking for a way for a homeowner to have a putting green without all of the maintenance,” he says. His Carolina’s Putting Greens company is one of several in the area that specialize in artificial turf putting greens. Others include Triangle Greens & Grass, Hicks Landscaping Contractors, and Southwest Greens Raleigh.

These greens typically cost $12 to $30 per square foot. When Ferguson builds a green, he begins by compacting topsoil and packing rock. Then he lays artificial turf. He builds them for homeowners, businesses, and apartment complexes.

“We make them as realistic as possible to an actual course,” he says. His own experience with golf helps. His best-ever long drive of 365 yards puts him in elite company and he says helps him to design greens to suit golfers of all levels.

Interestingly, the turf Ferguson and others use has its own roots in the Triangle. In the early ’60s, scientists at the Research Triangle Park-based Monsanto subsidiary Chemstrand invented Astroturf here. Originally designed to cover playgrounds in city parks, the product went on to cover playing fields – and putting greens.

“You can put them just about anywhere,” Ferguson says.

–  Mary Stuart Fountain