SubAir Systems: Augusta’s underground technology

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick March 26, 2024 17:09

Augusta National is renowned for having lightning-fast greens. It is well-known that putting is often the deciding factor at The Masters, with those claiming the Green Jacket likely to have been hitting greens in regulation and putting at the peak of their powers. So what is this hi-tech underground system that makes Augusta’s greens so perfect?

Iconic Augusta National greens

The first major of 2024 is just around the corner and those betting on the Masters will find the in-form Scottie Scheffler a huge +400 favourite. While for a long time, he has been neck-and-neck with Rory McIlroy heading toward the event, Scheffler’s recent performances have seen him surge ahead of McIlroy, who is priced at +900 in today’s golf odds.

That’s largely down to one fact: Scheffler’s putting. There was no doubt last year that the American was the best player on tour from tee to green. However, there were question marks surrounding his putting, where he consistently ranked poorly.

With the greens at Augusta being notoriously tricky, it could have proved Scheffler’s undoing. But just weeks before the Masters, Scheffler found a groove with his putting stroke, drastically improving his average number of putts per round en route to winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational and The Players Championship back-to-back.

The importance of putting can be seen in Scheffler’s price dropping from around +900 at the beginning of the year to +400 now.

How does it work and how much does it cost to install?

SubAir technology is a piece of moisture removal and heat control equipment that sits underneath the greens at Augusta, and other top golf courses. Its main role is to remove moisture from the grass, therefore drying the surface of the green. This means that regardless of the weather, the greens at Augusta remain in perfect condition.

As well as water removal, the SubAir system also controls root temperature and delivers air to the root, ensuring that the grass on the greens has the optimal conditions to promote growth. Greenkeepers can adapt to the weather and set the SubAir system accordingly.

The 12th green at Augusta was the first hole at the iconic course to utilise the technology due to it being prone to flooding. However, SubAir has since been installed at every hole on the course.

That comes at a cost. To install SubAir technology under one green costs roughly $25,000. This means that equipping an entire golf course would cost somewhere in the region of $450,000. Despite the enormous cost, there is more than 500 golf courses, mainly in the USA, with the technology.

Is it a viable option for UK golf courses?

The effectiveness of SubAir technology has been proven. However, there are very few golf courses in the United Kingdom with the systems in place. The prestigious Wentworth Golf Club was the first to install the technology under every green in 2016, in an effort to cultivate the most flawless greens in the country.

The system in Thailand. Image from X

While incredibly expensive, it is only a matter of time before SubAir systems are implemented at more leading golf courses around Great Britain. With the amount of rain that falls and the unpredictability of the weather, even during summer months, it is likely a sound investment for any aspiring golf club.

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick March 26, 2024 17:09
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