Golf Course Management

FEB 2017

Golf Course Management magazine is dedicated to advancing the golf course superintendent profession and helping GCSAA members achieve career success.

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Page 43 of 127

36 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 02.17 I've been experimenting with more and more "gadgets" lately as the prices of these once-unattainable pieces of technology have continued to drop. My most recent discovery is a thermal cam - era that attaches to Apple or Android smart- phones. I first looked into thermal cameras about five years ago, and the price tag on most fell in the $5,000 range — way too rich for my blood. This iPhone attachment, by con - trast, was $200, and it offers a level of quality even better than what I could have purchased five years ago for several thousand dollars. Even more exciting is that during last month's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the same company that manufactured my iPhone attachment (FLIR Systems) announced simi - lar cameras for many types of drones that will cost about $1,000 and provide access to large amounts of data very quickly. So, why invest in a thermal camera? We bought ours to be used throughout the entire club. The camera can spot things such as drain clogs, heating and cooling problems, and a range of other concerns in our club's build - ings. Thermal cameras can also help trouble- shoot equipment issues, electrical issues and even irrigation issues. A faulty electrical outlet will show up, as will a broken fuse — even through walls. These cameras reveal things that the naked eye simply cannot detect. On the golf course, my thermal camera won't show turfgrass plant stress, but it will illustrate even the most minor of temperature differences. I can walk the greens looking at the phone screen and observe temperature variations in the putting surfaces as small as one degree. This capability can help you pin - point heat-stressed plants and aid with your ir- rigation decisions. You can set the center of the screen to display the temperature, as shown in the bottom image, if you're interested in your canopy temperature. The thermal camera offers various filters similar to the way you can view the regular camera on your smartphone through filters. At Rolling Hills, we use the standard thermal camera filter, as well as a filter that displays hot-spot and cool-spot views. With these two views, you can walk a green and easily spot large discrepancies in surface temperatures, with hot spots appearing bright red and cool (technology) Bob Vaughey, CGCS Twitter: @rollinghillsgcm spots visible as bright blue. Being able to note these differences can assist in identifying ir - rigation distribution problems or other re- lated issues. The things you can do with a thermal camera are many, and capturing the full ex - tent of its usefulness is somewhat difficult. Considering how affordable they've become, I would advise your club to purchase one. I've already seen many benefits from employing one of these devices at our facility, from iden - tifying issues with the irrigation system's field interface unit to spotting a den of coyotes on the course. The thermal camera's host of util - ities will continue to grow, and will become even more practical when the new set of cam - eras is available for drones, as the aerial func- tionality will allow for vast, timely scanning of your entire course. Bob Vaughey, CGCS, is the director of agronomy at Rolling Hills Country Club in Palos Verdes, Calif., and a 12-year GCSAA member. Heating up The thermal camera's host of utilities will continue to grow, and will become even more practical when the new set of cameras is available for drones. Top: A newly seeded green after half had recently been irrigated. Images courtesy of Bob Vaughey Bottom: A thermal image of the Rolling Hills CC irrigation system's field interface unit, showing a dead panel.

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