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Those clever digital turf graphics seen on baseball outfields are coming to golf courses

Why it matters to you

Turf graphics is an emerging technology that's so far only been used on baseball sports fields; it will soon spread to golf courses--are football fields on the roster, too? We'll see.

Golf and baseball have little in common — that is, until now. New Ground Technology founder Pete Davis is taking the company’s turf graphics, commonly seen in outfields at Major League Baseball games, to golf courses.

The technology behind the TurfPrinter digital lawn imaging doesn’t include paint or mowing, Davis told the Golf Channel in a video interview at the Golf Industry Show. The imagery transfers to sports fields through air from a tractor device, according to the company’s website. Using GPS positioning, the air bends the turf to create light and dark contrasts on the field.

New Ground Technology calls these turf graphics “Horizontal billboards.”

The setup is deceivingly simple. A laser-based system and mobile receiver maps the site and graphic positions. The tractor starts at the first corner, the driver selects the image, and the tractor prints on the turf as it runs across the field.

“I came up with [the idea] several years ago, looking at a baseball field,” Davis said. “I saw the light and dark stripes, and I went, ‘that’s really powerful; that contrast is amazing. If I can just figure out a way to put those light and dark stripes down into small squares, where you can get the reflective light to shine into the fans’ eyes’ — that’s where I came up with [the idea].”

Davis said the turf graphics technology won’t damage the turf. It will be used for corporate golf events and to advertise sponsors.

“All of these images that we put down in large areas take less than an hour,” Davis said. “They can be erased in about the same amount of time.”

New Ground Technology was the first graphics company to print digital designs on sports fields. Their ground-breaking debut dazzled viewers with the iconic “SF” logo at the San Francisco Giants’ home opener game against the L.A. Dodgers on April 9, 2016. They received the ‘Innovative Award’ at the Sports Turf Managers Association show in Orlando in January.

Turf graphics will likely be seen on golf courses this year.