Flying over Empordà Golf

To be in possession of an irrigation system topographic survey, is essential to perform a comprehensive irrigation audit. Knowing the elevation of features such as the irrigation reservoir and the pump station, the sprinklers spacing and pattern, the diameter and length of the pipes, the location of isolation valves are examples of essential information that is needed to understand what the irrigation system was designed for. Also, it is essential to identify probable alterations of irrigable areas. For example, if a playing surface has been extended, this will lead to a deficient coverage of the original irrigation design. Therefore, the topographical survey sheds light on all these situations. It enables us as irrigation experts to carry out a thorough evaluation and to come to the right conclusions.

So, being aware of this, and that the Club was not in possession of updated golf course and irrigation plans, we agreed with Adrián González – Head Greenkeeper – to carry out a golf course and irrigation system topographical survey of the two courses at Empordà Golf. Then, before performing the irrigation audit, we gathered essential information for it and to produce detailed plans of the golf course and the irrigation system.

 

Adopting new technologies in our methodology

In order to reduce work timings and costs, we decided to carry out this job using drone technology and more traditional topographical methods, such as the use of GPS and a robotic total station.

Regarding the charachteristics of the courses, the Links course, routes through dunes, lakes and bunkers and consists of a wide and open layout. Therefore, it is ideal for drone surveying. However, the Forest course, consists in a parkland course that routes through a Mediterranean pine forest. This fact limits the drone survey because there are many elements that lie underneath the pine trees. Also, it limits the GPS equipment signal.

 

Teamwork: one of the key elements in the survey

So that, a team formed by David Ibáñez and Álvaro Velasco, went to Empordà Golf with the following surveying equipment: a DJI Phantom Pro 4, a robotic total Geomax Zoom90 and 2 GPS Geomax Zenith25. The surveyors carried out the job using this equipment to parallelly gather all the required information. Thus, the survey was completed in record time: 2 golf courses in a week. We also took advantage of the closure of the Links course due to maintenance operations. Also, the collaboration of Adrián González – Head Greenkeeper- and Raimon – Irrigation Technician – was key to undertake the survey in such efficient manner, and at a lower cost than using traditional equipment.

The drone flying had to be coordinated with the control department of the airfield situated in the neighbouring land. The following phase will be after the end of the Challenge tour final series events that are being held at Empordà Golf. By then, all the plans will be produced, and we will advance on identifying improvement points and explore ways to optimize water use and energy efficiency.