Singapore: Along with substantial savings to golf clubs around the world, drone technology will enable industry sustainability goals to be met by developing best practices for operational teams in the years ahead.
During a webinar addressing Why New Technology is Now Essential in Golf Course Management, participants highlighted the myriad ways in which the use of drones can improve operations and reduce costs.
Bobby Carrington, a Tech Portfolio Advisor for a private equity company in New York City and Head of Customer Success at Brain Pool Tech, a company that is pioneering drone technology and an Associate Business Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation (AGIF), teed-off the discussion with a focus on case studies where drones and mobile technology have drastically slashed operational budgets.
Brain Pool has been closely analysing the United States Golf Association on their innovative mitigation strategies that optimise research consumption in conjunction with improving player experience for golfers.
“They’ve been very impressive in how they consult with top industrial process engineers and they heavily fund academia like horticulture and natural resource departments,” said Carrington, adding that Brain Pool is in discussions with the team at Kansas City University’s Horticulture Department.
“We’ll be talking to them about trying to collaborate with their in-depth study that drones equipped with thermal and multi-spectral sensors have better drought prediction ability combined with faster and more affordable data collection compared with ground-based drought stress monitoring methods.
“Using green, red, red edge and near infra-red wavelengths, we can capture visible and, most importantly, not visible to the eye imagery for golf courses. Invisible to the eye spectral data provides early detection of problems on greens and fairways especially, and enables maintenance teams to start optimising water usage.
“It enables efficiency in producing a systematic plant health checker that can reduce pesticide and fertiliser budget by performing target spraying instead of broad acre spraying,” said Carrington, who cited two case studies during his presentation.
At Crandon Golf Course in South Florida, a study projected annually to save US$350,000 in water usage just by understanding golf traffic and using heat map GPS to strategically reduce turf stress and adjust the course. A two-month analysis of heat map and GPS tracker from 177 trackers was carried out by Brain Pool.
Carrington said: “What we saw was that there are areas that can be improved using further drone technology. We can offer a golf course a custom mobile app and tracker that they can download in an app store. This is of benefit to the golfer and of benefit for the club.
“It can achieve better traffic patterns, better optimise pace of play and you can offer a better golf experience. It also includes distance monitoring for golf shots which makes shot judgement easier. You can add green-reading maps so players can see how each green breaks.
“These features will highly interest golf clubs and will provide courses with valuable information about movement and an ability to strategically interact with the guest through pushing notifications or messages. The summary of the case at Crandon Golf Course was that irrigation systems changes to reduce water use saved US$125,000 in the first year alone.”
Meanwhile, drones have been improving operations at Victoria Golf Club in Canada for almost a year.
Carrington said: “They fly a drone there every morning before the course opens and then workers are able to troubleshoot issues before guests arrive and adjust their maintenance plan accordingly.
“After a couple of weeks, this data was used to find patterns throughout the course environment to proactively anticipate future problems. During the first year of their drone programme, they saw a 20% saving in water reduction and anticipated a US$15,000 to US$20,000 reduction in pest control costs per year.”
Hosted by Brain Pool Tech and presented by the AGIF, the webinar participants also included Chris Gray, Head of Sustainability and Agronomy for Asia at The R&A, Owen Hester, Founder and President at Green Dynasty, and Kai Voges, Co-Founder and CEO of Brain Pool Tech.
*To view this webinar on You Tube, please click the link: https://youtu.be/JkXiAj7R9_s