Hester Hails Lift-Off for Drone Surveys

Singapore: Golf course developers could save hundreds of thousands of dollars by using drone surveying as part of an integrated construction management service.

Speaking during a webinar addressing Why New Technology is Now Essential in Golf Course Management, Owen Hester, Managing Director of Green Dynasty Pte Ltd, said he believes drone technology will have a profound effect on both golf course design and construction in the future.

“A drone survey provides a more detailed and accurate survey versus a traditional survey which can be restricted by access, especially on difficult mountainous sites,” said Hester, who was joined on the webinar by Chris Gray, Head of Sustainability and Agronomy for Asia at The R&A, Bobby Carrington, a Tech Portfolio Advisor for a private equity company in New York City and Head of Customer Success at Brain Pool Tech, and Kai Voges, Co-Founder and CEO of Brain Pool Tech.

“On mountainous sites, if the ground survey is out by just 20 centimetres vertically that could equate to a discrepancy of upwards of 100,000m3 on a typical 18-hole course, or upwards of US$250,000 in potential additional earthworks costs, depending on the soil structure,” added Hester, whose company is well known for its work on some of the most difficult and ambitious golf development and environmental restoration projects in the world.

Green Dynasty’s portfolio includes building in numerous mountainous terrains throughout China, prestigious club redevelopments in Singapore, restoring the sands of the Gobi Desert in Inner Mongolia and working among the ancient Pagoda fields of Myanmar and the rice terraces of Bali in Indonesia. All those undertakings were carried out without the benefit of drone technology.

Hester said an initial drone survey can pick up key site features, such as rocky outcrops and feature trees that a conventional survey does not identify, thus providing the golf course architect with added knowledge when undertaking routing of a course.

Furthermore, a drone survey allows planners to access a current base photo image for recording change through the project (before and after), and to assess areas outside of the property that effect the site, such as watershed area and water flow onto the site impacting drainage design.

Moving onto the construction phase, Hester said drone surveys allow for a third-party verification of contractor monthly claims by accurately measuring quantities on-site, such as cut and fill progress, drainage, irrigation, material stockpiling and progress of works for clearing grassing.

Other drone benefits include the provision of consistent same point progress photos from set flight paths and accuracy within two centimetres vertically.

Owen Hester (far left) undergoing drone training.

“A drone survey also allows for accurate building of final as-built documents. It creates a document that cannot be manipulated as it can overlay an aerial as back-up site reference points,” said Hester.

In regard to maintenance preparation, meanwhile, a drone survey provides an interactive document that can then be imported into long-term maintenance and management planning for monitoring, and allows for progressive measurement every few years to determine if green and all turf areas are changing in size.

Such is the impact of a drone survey, that Green Dynasty, an Associate Business Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation, is now adapting to use this as part of its service.

“We have developed a service called ‘Green Catch’ in collaboration with Brain Pool to provide drone surveying as part of an integrated construction management service. This will give future clients a higher level of accuracy and site data recording,” said Hester.

*To view this webinar on You Tube, please click the link: https://youtu.be/JkXiAj7R9_s

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