Category Archives: Satellite Imagery / GPS Mapping / As-Built Drawings

Xili Golf Club – Drone Technology Takes Irrigation Design To the Next Level

An accurate and effective irrigation design starts with an accurate base map.  This is especially true on existing courses.  In the past the base maps for existing courses were really only available through a few alternatives, many of which expensive.

  • Traditional Ground Survey
  • GPS Mapping
  • Aerial photography
  • Google Maps or Other Satellite Images

All of these have some limitations such as:

Traditional Ground Survey – Costly, time consuming and lacking detail since no image is included.

GPS Mapping – Costly, time consuming and lacking detail since no image is included, accuracy can also vary.  Elevation data is often not accurate to the degree required.

Aerial photography – Costly, Flown by a plane so can only reach 1’ resolution.  Planes cannot fly low enough to get the high resolution offered by a low flying drone.  Images can lack resolution depending on cost and source, scaling and curvature of the earth can create issues with accuracy.  Elevation data, if available, can be very expensive.   the reason is they can.

Google or Other Satellite Images – Not expensive but scaling and curvature of the earth can create issues with accuracy.  Quality of the images is typically only fair to poor.  Often multiple images must be stitched together.  Elevation data is poor or not available.  Since the images are gathered by satellites they are usually 18 to 36 months outdated.

A big problem with aerials or satellite images is you cannot see underneath the trees unlike drones that can take horizontal photography as well allowing you to see under the canopy.

Traditional Ground Survey Lacking Detail

Google Satellite Map With Poor Resolution

Fortunately, drone technology now offers a new and improved method to create quick and less expensive high resolution base maps of your golf course or other property.  Drone images offer the following advantages:

  • Inexpensive
  • Quick
  • Excellent resolution. Detail can be enhanced to a very high level by flying at low altitudes.
  • Elevation contours are accurate and available at .25m intervals or better depending on the camera used.

Xili Golf Club, Shenzhen, China and ATI- Thailand recently collaborated on developing a high resolution base map for the upcoming irrigation renovation of their 36 hole golf course.  The drone images were also highly useful for Nelson & Haworth Golf Course Architects in their golf design on the 9 holes of golf renovation to also be performed as part of the project.

High Resolution Drone Image

Compared to the other base map options you can clearly see the high degree of accuracy that is provided by a drone flown at a lower altitude.  The high degree of accuracy and detail offer the following benefits:

  • Ability to identify existing irrigation components on the ground such as sprinklers and valves.
  • Allows great detail to help accurately locate sprinklers and other components not only in the design process but during construction.
  • The high resolution of the image helps identify other obstacles and factors key in the design such as trees and landscape.
  • Mainline routing and satellite locations can be better analyzed with the enhanced image.
  • The Elevation data provided is critical for pressure loss calculation, especially on hilly sites.
  • Ability to view under the tree canopy.

Drone Images Allow for Highly Accurate Irrigation Designs and As-Built Drawings

Elevation is an important aspect of irrigation design, especially on a hilly site such as Xili Golf Club.  Drone images, if properly processed, can provide accurate contours at .25m intervals.  This data is not only valuable for irrigation design, but also for golf architects during planning and design of golf course renovations.  A drone can  also produce a 4K video of the site and  fly overs of each hole for marketing and other purposes.

.25m Contours Created From Drone Images

Golf Course and Irrigation Planning at Thai Country Club Using Drone Images
(The dark green image is from Google Earth Satellite, much poorer quality)

Beware, there is more to preparing a highly accurate drone map than running out and buying a drone.  Gathering nice images is not difficult and requires little special software and basic computer skills.  However, taking those images and creating scaled geo-referenced maps with contours requires specialized and expensive CAD software, a computer with high capacity graphics and large memory as well as computer and CAD experience.   The 36 hole at Xili Golf Club required nearly 100 images to be referenced together into a single file geo-referenced to the earth.

If you aren’t yet ready for or interested in golf or irrigation renovations drone mapping can help you prepare a highly accurate as-built drawing.  An accurate as-built is extremely important in your irrigation maintenance and can be incorporated into your existing irrigation computer.

Contact ATI at jbs@aquaturfintl.com for more information on Drone Mapping as well as irrigation Design and Consulting.  ATI is the world leader in golf irrigation consulting.

 

GPS Mapping, Satellite Imagery, Aerial Photography and Contour Mapping Services

Does your course have an accurate current as-built of the irrigation system?

More than likely not.  It is probably less likely that you have a current and accurate aerial photograph or satellite image.

Nearly anyone associated with the golf course can benefit from an accurate as-built and especially and aerial photograph or satellite image.

Superintendents – For a superintendent an accurate as-built drawing of the irrigation system is critical to the daily and operation, troubleshooting and maintenance of the system.  Additionally, the ability to know the accurate area calculations of all the golf course features such as greens, tees, fairways, roughs and bunkers is critical to properly purchase materials and apply fertilizer and chemicals.

General Managers – The aerial photograph can be an extremely valuable tool to the General Manager to help in planning and communicating with the staff, boards and membership.

Golf Professionals – Golf professionals can use the aerial photograph to assist in tournament preparations as well as daily play alerts.

Boards – Boards will find the aerial photos beneficial when they are evaluating the long-range plans and activities of the management staff.  they are also every effective in helping explain new projects the club may be soon undertaking or voting upon.

Membership – The membership will find them interesting and beneficial to help know their course better and show to their friends who may be joining them for a round. 

Architects – Architects will find them extremely helpful in their long-range planning and design strategy as well the ability to add existing contours.

List of Services

Please review the complete list of ATI GPS Mapping, Satellite imagery Aerial Photography and Contour Mapping services below.  Each service is explain in detail later in the blog.  Contact the ATI office nearest you for more information and a proposal.  It may cot less than you think.

  • Aerial Photography and Satellite Imagery Base Map With Area Calculations
  • Aerial Photography Combined with GPS of In-Ground Irrigation Components 
  • Add GPS Mapping of Irrigation and Drainage Points                                                                           
  • Add Mainline and Lateral Piping
  • Aerial Photography Contour Mapping
  • GPS Green Contour Mapping

The Process

ATI combines Satellite Imagery or  Aerial Photography along with GPS mapping to provide the most accurate and visually rich as-built available.

In order for the GPS mapping of the irrigation, drainage or other points such as sprinklers, valves quick couplers and drain inlets to be accurately overlaid on a satellite image requires the satellite imagery or aerial photography to go through a special “orthorectification” process.  Orthorectification is a process in which aerial photos are adjusted to correct distortions due to topographic relief, lens distortion, and camera tilt.  These geometrical corrections will mean that the scale of the photograph is uniform.  Unlike an uncorrected aerial photograph (Google Earth), a orthophotograph can be used to measure true distances, angles and areas.  This orthorectification takes the curvature of the earth out of the satellite image and flattens it so the GPS and  image accurately match.  We have access to such imagery in most areas of the world. The resolution and quality of the photo allows for a very clear picture when zooming as you can see below in the image from a course in Beijing, China.  As you can see many different dates and cloud cover percentages can be available.

Orthorectified Satellite Image - Shadow Creek Golf Club, Beijing, China (Chart Indicates Dates of Photos Available and % Cloud Cover)

Orthorectified Satellite Image – Shadow Creek Golf Club, Beijing, China
(Chart Indicates Dates of Photos Available and % Cloud Cover)

Below is a screen shot from a Google Earth image of the same course in which you can see the distortion of the lens angle, but the curvature distortion is hard to see with the eye but it can be significant.

Google Earth Image Distortion

Google Earth Image Distortion

The services are available in a number of ways to meet your budget such as initially providing only the satellite imagery with the area calculations.  The irrigation and drainage points can be then added later at any time as funds become available.

Orthorectified Satellite Image - Master Course at Laguna Golf Club, Singapore

Orthorectified Satellite Image – Master Course at Laguna Golf Club, Singapore

As you can see from the sample,  the as-built on high gloss paper offers a high quality as-built great to hang on your wall.  The as-built is great for working with your staff, board members and membership.  The image can also be incorporated to interface with any manufacturers irrigation software.

High Ridge Country Club - Lantan, Florida, USA - Satelite Imagery / GPS As-Built Glossy Wall Ma

High Ridge Country Club – Lantana, Florida, USA – Satellite Imagery / GPS As-Built Glossy Wall Map

Aerial Photography and Satellite Imagery Base Map With Area Calculations

ATI can provide new high-resolution satellite imagery or a flown aerial photograph of the entire golf course or property depending on your location. The photography will be used to produce a orthorectified image of the site with 0.5’ to 2′ ground pixels. AutoCAD drafting will then be performed on all site features to create a golf course base map. The map will include all the golf course features such as greens, tees, fairways, bunkers, roughs, landscaping plus cart paths, building locations, roads, bridges, driveways, water bodies, railroads, transmission lines, power poles, fences, and grouped tree outlines. A scorecard view of the total area (square feet or meters) of greens, tees, bunkers, roughs and fairways per hole is provided. The as-built drawings will be provided in color on individual sheets at industry standard scales, scaled to fit on a single sheet ready for wall mounting plus 11”x 14” color laminated sheets per hole bound in a book format. The data will also be provided in a digital format.

Option 1 – Irrigation & Drainage Component Point Drafting

ATI provides on site sub-meter precision GPS mapping of the following points:

  • Sprinklers
  • Mainline Isolation Valves
  • Lateral Isolation Valves
  • Quick Couplers
  • Specialty Valves
  • Satellite Locations
  • Wire Splices
  • Drain Inlets
  • Mainline Pipe Routing

Please note that the use of utility vehicle provided by customer. Also, all point locations must be flagged in advance by the customer prior to mapping by ATI.  Also, mainline routing must be painted on the ground in advance by the customer prior to GPS mapping.

Option 2 – Irrigation Pipe, Wire and Control Drafting

ATI provides AutoCAD drafting of the following irrigation components:

  • Lateral Pipe Routing
  • Station Numbers

Please note that GPS data from Option 1 is provided by ATI to  the customer for penciling-in of the lateral pipe routing and station numbers prior to drafting.

Aerial Photography and Contour Mapping

Proper land planning and golf course design requires accurate site and contour mapping. ATI can use the aerial photograph base maps or satellite imagery to produce scaled planimetric and topographic mapping with 1 foot, .5 meter or larger contour intervals based on your needs and budget. This will then be used to produce a orthorectified image of the site with a 0.5’ ground pixel. AutoCAD drafting and sophisticated software will be used to create a contour map of the golf course with elevations. All the features of the Aerial Photography Base Map will also be included.

Please note that either aerial photography or satellite imagery requires clear skies and proper scheduling.  Make sure you allow adequate time in your planning process to accommodate the process.  Additional time may be required depending on your location in the world.

GPS Green Contour Mapping

On some courses it is important during greens renovation to rebuild the green to the exact contours.  ATI utilizes precision GPS technology to attain all green topographic information at 1/10th foot contour intervals on putting surface including 5-10’ off the green surface.

 Please Note This Service May Not Be Available In All Locations

Deliverables

All drawings will be provided in color on individual sheets at industry standard scales, scaled to fit on a single sheet ready for wall mounting plus 11”x 14” color laminated sheets per hole bound in a book format.  The data will also be provided in a digital format.

Contact the ATI office nearest you for more information and a proposal.  It may cost less than you think.

Samples of Deliverables - Glossy Wall Map, Laminated Books, As-Built Scaled Drawings

Samples of Deliverables – Glossy Wall Map, Laminated Books, As-Built Scaled Drawings