If there's one question ASBA gets a lot of, it's the kind that starts out, "Which is better....?" and usually ends, "synthetic turf or natural grass?"

ASBA Blog: The grass is greener … on the field you need

If there’s one question ASBA gets a lot of, it’s the kind that starts out, “Which is better….?” and usually, it ends, “synthetic turf or natural grass?”

ASBA has long held a neutral stance, and it will continue to do so. Why? Because there is no absolute in terms of field type. The right kind of field is the kind that is right for the customer, the sport and the installation.

Hey, even the organizers of the Olympics feel that way. The venues for the 2012 Summer Games in London will include both natural grass and artificial turf, depending on the event. 

According to a representative at the London 2012 bureau, tennis will be played on the natural grass of Wimbledon. Soccer (or as the rest of the world knows it, football) “will be played on normal outdoor grass during the Olympics. However, until the 1970s, hockey was always played on grass, but top-level matches now take place on pitches made of synthetic turf, which allows the ball to roll more smoothly.”

Is that an endorsement for those surfaces for those sports, and is it something schools, clubs and more should take into consideration? Yes and no. A lot of personal preferences do come into play in the decision-making process, but they have to be tempered with consideration of the site’s location, climate, use, budget, amount of maintenance resources available, and more. What’s right for one sport in the Olympic Games in London might not be right for the same sport at a high school in the Midwestern U.S.

We can expect to see a lot more discussion of surfaces and what constitutes an advantage for various sports, as events are added through the years. With golf and rugby coming on board the Olympic roster, enthusiasts can be certain that debate will ensue regarding the surfaces players are used to, what they’re playing on in the Olympics, and how that affects their game.

Meantime, if you’re less concerned about what’s going to win a gold medal than you are about what’s going to be installed on your property, resources are available to help you out. The book, Sports Fields, A Construction and Maintenance Manual, is a wealth of information for those seeking to make a decision about the type of field to choose. The book includes comprehensive information on both natural and synthetic fields.

Copies of the new edition of the book are available now for a cost of $44.95 each. Books can be ordered by contacting the Association directly at 866-501-ASBA (2722), or by going to the web site, www.sportsbuiders.org.