Berkhamsted uses a drone to help manage its course

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick April 21, 2023 13:17

Berkhamsted Golf Club in Hertfordshire flies a drone 250 feet in the air once a year to help manage its golf course.

The ‘eye in the sky’ helps Berkhamsted to manage every aspect of its golf course, bringing a sophisticated new toolset to the science of golf course management.

After two flights so far, with another scheduled for this season, an evolving interactive mosaic of thousands of high-resolution overhead photos of Berkhamsted’s golf course is now stored in its online portal.

Even the smallest golf course features including individual plants, tee boxes, sprinkler heads and club signs were digitally captured when the drone did its first sweep in 2021. Subsequent drone flights inform the golf club’s management team as to how the golf course is changing over time with easily-organised ‘before’ and ‘after’ images.

The club’s greens committee now uses its visual information as its go-to tool when monitoring seasonal programmes of work. This includes growth and planting, pathway alterations, course renovations and other factors which commonly change over time such as tees, fairways, rough, gorse and heather.

Howard Craft, Berkhamsted’s club manager, said: “Discussions and management decisions are quicker and easier than ever before because we now have such clear information.

“It is mainly a one-stop tracking and monitoring tool which removes uncertainty and saves us time and money because we are now making better course management decisions.”

By using the online portal – the Clere Golf Hub – Craft and his office team can use their desktop PCs or mobile phones to geo-tag on-course actions needed, adding notes to help the greenkeepers to identify exactly where and how the work is to be done.

“As everything is guided by accurate GPS, our greens team now has absolutely clear location instructions about every aspect of their work,” said Howard Craft.

“For example, it provides exhaustive information about our new irrigation system, including the location and routing of every underground pipe and sprinkler.

“It is also an incredibly accurate measurement tool, which helps us to order the right quantity of materials and analyse data across all surface areas.

“Our club trustees also now use it to monitor the extensive non-golfing parts of the Berkhamsted estate.

“In addition we now use it to decide where to put the pins on the greens, as it contains a wealth of historic pin placement data.”


Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick April 21, 2023 13:17
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