Jack's Turf

THE HISTORY OF ARTIFICIAL GRASS

James M. Faria and Robert T. Wright of Monsanto Industries co-invented Astroturf in 1965.

1950s: The Ford Foundation studied ways to improve the physical fitness of young people. They observed that rural folks were more active and fit than urban folks were.

Late 1950s:  The Chemstrand Company, a subsidiary of Monsanto Industries was developing new synthetic fibers for use in carpeting. Monsanto was encouraging the use of carpets in schools in conjunction with the Ford Foundation’s Educational Facilities Laboratory, headed by Dr. Harold Gores. Dr. Gores suggested that Chemstrand develop the perfect urban playing surface, Gores knew about both the Chemstrand synthetic fiber research and the Ford fitness studies.

1962 – 1966: The Creative Products Group, part of Chemstrand’s research organization worked on creating the new playing surface. The surface was tested for foot traction and cushioning, weather drainage, flammability and wear resistance.

1964: The Creative Products Group installs a synthetic turf called Chemgrass at the Moses Brown School in Providence Rhode Island. This was the first large-scale installation of a synthetic turf.

1965: Judge Roy Hofheinz builds the AstroDome in Houston, Texas. Hofheinz consults Monsanto about replacing the natural grass with a new synthetic playing surface. At first, the Astrodome had real grass. The first Astros game, an exhibition with the New York Yankees, demonstrated that the semitransparent cream-colored panels in the roof made fly balls too difficult to see. So, the ceiling tiles were painted, but the grass died. This led to the installation of plastic grass known as Astroturf.

1966: The Houston Astros’ baseball season begins on a Chemgrass surface now renamed Astroturf at the AstroDome.

Fall 1966: The Houston Oilers’ AFL football season begins on more than 125,000 square feet of removable Astroturf (AstroDome).

1967: Indiana State University Stadium, in Terre Haute, Indiana becomes the first outdoor stadium installed with Astroturf.

1967: Astroturf patented

1986: Astroturf Industries, Inc. formed.

2005: All of the Canadian Football League (CFL) has switched to artificial turf (Except Edmonton which plays on real grass) and most of the NFL has switched to fake grass. Many US colleges are now looking to switch. There is even talk of some golf courses using artificial turf in Canada due to the shorter growing season for grass in some of our northern cities.