Golf course hits a hole in one for course management in extreme weather


As Ireland enjoyed one of the hottest summers for 40 years in 2018, the heat had an unexpected benefit for agronomist, Ronan Brannigan at the six golf courses he manages around Dublin, Meath and Louth.

The heatwave burnt the grass on the drainage lines of Kilcock Golf Club exposing the systems underneath.

Ronan saw this as an opportunity to quickly and easily map the topography of the golf course, by creating a digital map of the terrain to use as a resource to assist with managing the course and keeping it in pristine condition. Ronan worked with Hector Nelson, an independent surveyor, who used Topcon UAV technology to survey the area quickly and accurately.

“Apart from the obvious advantages of being able to use the topographical information to plan for drainage, construction work etc, the Topcon Sirius Pro UAV was able to capture the position of all the visible drainage lines on the golf courses due to the drought. This has been extremely valuable as without the built drainage plans of the golf courses we didn’t know the location of all drainage lines and most importantly their outfall points. We have now captured that in a georeferenced format. This will prove to be a fantastic management tool that will allow us to troubleshoot and solve drainage issues in the future.

Hector and Topcon have been fantastic. The work was carried out at short notice, to my satisfaction and the Bentley software was easy to download and use,” says Ronan.

Hector explains, “I had previously used traditional GPS methods to capture data on the topography of golf courses, however this has a lot of limitations in comparison to using the Topcon Sirius Pro UAV. Traditional methods are far more time consuming. In addition, the Sirius Pro captures much richer data, traditional methods only captured around 1% of what can be captured using the UAV.”

Unlike other UAVs which require multiple ground control points to improve accuracy, the Sirius Pro has an onboard GNSS-RTK receiver meaning a combination of multiple satellites are available to it, ensuring high accuracy.

GL referenced data and images of the golf course from the Sirius Pro were then processed using Bentley Contextcapture to create a 3D model. This model can then be viewed through Acute 3D viewer, which is perfect for use of the management of the golf course. The drainage lines of the course were clearly defined on the model, so Ronan will now be able to manage the drainage of the course and avoid flooding.

Hector concludes: “I’ve seen a growing interest from my clients in UAV as it’s a technology we’re so used to seeing in our daily lives. Topcon offered training to help me learn how to use the UAV on site and the Sirius Pro has been a great investment to grow my offering as a surveyor.”

Find out more about Topcon’s UAV technology

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