Drones and Golf Courses

As a longtime aviator, the view from above has always intrigued me.  Early in my career and for may years since, I’ve taken advantage of airplanes to get a perspective on the properties we appraise offered only from above.  Thanks to modern technology, Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS’s), often referred to as drones have provided a more efficient way to provide this same perspective to our clients.  Fortunately, for an experienced pilot, obtaining my UAS Remote Pilot Certificate wasn’t too time consuming and we’re now able to safely and legally use this tool for our clients’ benefit.  There’s much to learn but we’re jumping in head first and envision considerable benefit for our practice.

Drone use in the appraisal profession was first introduced about 2 years ago in 2016 and quickly recognized as a way to view areas previously considered inaccessible (roof, bodies of water, difficult terrain, etc.) and also provides the ability to view large parcels, including a 360 degree view of same.  The use of a drone is much more economical than even the cheapest airplane and provides the ability to photograph from lower levels (below 400′ AGL) not accessible to manned aircraft in most cases.  The detail available is most useful and modern tolls and software now enable using photogrammetry which can develop mapping, 3 dimensional models and of course, video.

While the use of drones in real estate is obvious, their use on golf courses has historically focused on producing sharp hole by hole videos for websites and marketing.  The ability for golfer/member interactive engagement is invaluable  but there are other uses which may be even more useful.

Golf course maintenance is typically the biggest single expense department for most clubs, often between 25% and 35% of operating costs.  Drones are now being used for more efficient diagnostic monitoring of green and fairway health and moisture levels using drones instead of labor, which can be better used solving whatever problems arise.  Near infra-red technology readily available can provide the golf course superintendent with an advance look of where problems with heat stress might be about to occur allowing for prevention.  Monitoring irrigation can become much more efficient and documenting maturation, of either a new course, renovation or an isolated project can easily be communicated to the membership.

Golf course architects are using drones for mapping and 3D access to everything from trees to terrain on both existing courses and development sites and the models enable the viewer to evaluate numerous options previously unavailable.  To the golfer, playing a course for the first time viewing the now very familiar website videos allowing a preview of his/her round to come.  The best golf photographers are using UAS to dramatically enhance their images and make true art from golf’s beautiful fields of dreams.

At Golf Property Analysts, we have entered the drone age and are using our UAS for enhanced property analysis and reporting with aerial views from around the courses and clubs we appraise and consult with and in our brokerage practice to provide prospects the ability to review a property from this enhanced visual perspective prior to visiting the site.

What’s next to come?  Stay tuned.