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Best Drones for Golf Courses

Do you own or manage a golf course? Drones could be a valuable addition to your management tools.

You could do a lot with a drone to improve your golf course, from photography to mapping and spraying.

Which are the best drones for golf courses?

These drones are the most valuable for golf courses:

  • DJI Mavic Pro or 3 Classic (videos or marketing)
  • DJI Mavic 2 Pro or the M300 RTK (mapping)
  • DJI Agras T20 or T30 or the Mavic Multispectral (vegetation health monitoring and management)
  • DJI M30T (surveillance)

Keep reading to learn why you need a drone for your golf course and why the above models are on our list.

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Marketing

You can use drones to create excellent footage to promote your golf course. Below are some of the best drones you can choose for these purposes.

DJI Mavic 3 Pro

DJI Mavic 3 Pro
$2,199.00

Flagship Triple-Camera Drone with 4/3 CMOS Hasselblad Camera, 43-Min Flight Time, and 15km HD Video Transmission, for pro aerial photography.

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03/06/2024 03:32 pm GMT

✅ Pros

  • Excellent footage quality
  • Extended flight time
  • A wide range of intelligent features

❌ Cons

  • You may not need three cameras for your golf course

The Mavic 3 Pro is the latest consumer drone DJI has released at the time of publication.

Considering how well-regarded the previous Mavic 3 and Mavic 3 Cine drones are regarded, one can only hope that the Mavic 3 Pro is even better.

Besides, the Mavic 3 Pro is priced the same as the previous Mavic 3, so it makes more sense to get the newer model.

The Mavic 3 Pro is the first drone to feature three cameras, allowing it to film at three focal lengths. This way, you can either pick the best shot or combine them.

The main camera is a 4/3 CMOS Hasselblad camera, similar to the first Mavic 3.

Regarding videos, this drone can shoot in 5.1K at 50 fps, assuring you the best quality and visually appealing footage you can get from a consumer drone.

The 43-minute flight time is also one of the longest for such a drone, giving you enough time to take all the necessary shots.

Thanks to the 10-Bit D-Log color profile, you have lots of room to edit the footage to any theme you’d like.

Below is a comparison of the footage you get from each of the cameras:

DJI Mavic 3 Classic

DJI Mavic 3 Classic (DJI RC)
$2,398.00

Drone with 4/3 CMOS Hasselblad Camera for Professionals, 5.1K HD Video, 46-Min Flight Time, Omnidirectional Obstacle Sensing, 15km Transmission Range.

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03/07/2024 01:46 am GMT

✅ Pros

  • Great value for money since it shares some features with the Pro version
  • All-around obstacle avoidance

❌ Cons

  • Features geofencing, which may limit where you fly if you are within or close to restricted airspace

You can get the DJI Mavic 3 Classic if you just want one high-quality camera. This version was released after the Mavic 3 as a cheaper version.

So what makes this a good drone for golf courses?

The 4/3 Hasselblad is good enough to produce high-quality video footage.

This drone also shoots 20 MP photos and features Normal, D-Log, and HLG color profiles, giving enough room for editing and color grading depending on your skill level.

The battery life is also not that different from the Mavic 3 or 3 Pro since you get 30 to 40 minutes of flight time, which is enough time to get as many shots as you can so you can choose the best when editing.

Below is an overview of the Mavic 3 Classic:

Vegetation health monitoring and management

Golf courses need regular maintenance to maintain the beauty they are known for. One of the ways they are maintained is by applying fertilizers and pesticides.

This is where drones come in. You can use drones to monitor the health of the turf and even determine when to mow, track the health of any wildlife on the golf course, and use this data to develop better practices.

You can also use drones to spray different chemicals on the golf course. Below are the best drones for environmental monitoring and spraying.

DJI Agras – Best drones for spraying

DJI Agras - Best drones for spraying
Image Credit: DJI

✅ Pros

  • It’s easy to use
  • Depending on the task, you can adjust the height, flow rate, and spray rate
  • These drones are scalable because you can hire them to other golf courses or for other types of spraying

❌ Cons

  • They’re quite expensive
  • Due to their size and having several moving parts, they have a higher risk of crashing

The Agras series is a series of DJI flagship spraying drones. These include drones like the DJI Agras T16, T20, T30, and T40.

Besides having different features, the larger the number, the larger the tank, which means the drone will carry more liquid at a time.

Having used spraying drones for a while, I would recommend either the T20 or the T30. They have 20-liter or 30-liter tanks, respectively.

If you own a golf course that spans several acres of land, such a tank size would be practical.

These drones can also be used to spray any ponds within the golf course to control the breeding of pests or for controlling duckweed, as you can see in this video.

The DJI Agras drones are some of the most reliable and easy to use.

If you have flown a Mavic or Phantom drone, you can fly an Agras drone. The controls look similar, and the battery management procedures aren’t that different.

Spraying isn’t that complicated either, and these drones also allow you to automate the spraying process.

All you need to do is map the area you need to spray, identify what you need to spray, and find the appropriate flow rate.

Once you have all these inputs, the drone will automatically fly through the mapped area while spraying, and all you have to do is monitor it and swap the batteries.

If spraying a small area, you can do it manually. A complete combo for a drone such as the T30 comes with a generator that can recharge these batteries in less than 30 minutes.

To be even more accurate at spraying, you can get the vegetation health data (there’s a drone for that, too, that I will discuss later), upload it to the drone, and it will adjust how much to spray depending on the health of each particular area.

The RTK and GNSS modules help enhance the drone’s accuracy.

DJI Mavic 3 Multispectral

Image Credit: DJI

✅ Pros

  • It’s lightweight, foldable, and easily portable
  • Provides accurate data in the shortest time possible
  • Has an RTK module to enhance its accuracy

❌ Cons

  • The missing band may limit the insights you can get from this drone

Before you can spray, you first need to monitor the health of the vegetation on the golf course and identify what needs to be done.

While you could use handheld tools for this, a drone can help speed up the process. The DJI Mavic 3 Thermal is made specifically for this purpose.

The Mavic 3 Multispectral is the latest Multispectral drone from DJI, set to replace or supplement the already powerful DJI Phantom 4 Multispectral.

Being a newer drone, it offers better features such as a 5MP resolution camera, 43-minute flight time, better transmission and longer operating range, mechanical shutter, and a 20MP 43 CMOS sensor for high-quality imagery.

The Mavic 3 Multispectral and the P4 Multispectral are designed to image in different wavelengths, allowing them to detect anomalies that one can’t see with the naked eye.

This information then gives the land managers insights into the land. It can also help them develop more efficient sampling strategies instead of going in “blindly.”

One fascinating feature that both drones have is they give vegetation indices information in real-time, allowing you to get feedback on the vegetation as you fly.

The only difference is that with the Mavic 3 Multispectral, you can get this information in a split screen, with one side of the screen being the RGB live feed.

With the P4M, you have to switch between the screens.

However, for some reason, while the Mavic 3 Multispectral is the newer drone, it has four bands (Green, Red, Red Edge, and Near Infrared), while the Phantom 4 Multispectral has five bands (Green, Red, Red Edge, Near Infrared, and Blue).

This is why I said you can still hold on to the P4M if you have one and add the Mavic 3 Multispectral. But if it’s your first drone, the Mavic 3 Multispectral seems more cost-efficient.

Below is a video showcasing how to use the Mavic 3 Multispectral and Pix4DFields to collect Remote Sensing data.

Surveillance

If you want to monitor property on the golf course, how people use the golf course, or the golf course during a tournament, there’s a drone for that.

DJI M30T

Image Credit: DJI

✅ Pros

  • Powerful zooming capability
  • Light enough to carry around
  • The folding mechanism makes it easy to deploy

❌ Cons

  • It’s expensive
  • It’s also quite loud and may not appeal to golf course users

The DJI M30T is currently the best drone for surveillance. From plantations to warehouses and manufacturing plants, this drone can fit in any setup. So what makes it perfect for surveillance?

For starters, the M30T features a digital zoom of up to 200x, allowing you to zoom up to one mile away. This allows you to monitor activities on the golf course without the participants knowing they are being monitored.

Secondly, the DJI M30T has two cameras, an RGB camera for use during the day and a thermal camera for night operations and low-light conditions.

The thermal camera is quite accurate, allowing you to differentiate between people, animals, and stationary objects.

You can also easily switch between the two cameras when necessary.

Thirdly, the M30T uses two batteries, with a flight time of up to 40 minutes.

This, coupled with the O3 Enterprise transmission that offers a range of up to seven miles, and the zoom, allows you to cover lots of ground in one flight.

Below is an overview of the DJI M30T and how you can use it.

Mapping

Drones have become very useful tools in mapping and construction. Since they fly at lower altitudes and have powerful sensors, drones take high-resolution images for photogrammetry.

These images can be stitched together to create an orthomosaic, help create a topo map, create 3D models, or even update the maps you already have for the golf course.

You can also use these drones to monitor a construction project and collect progress images.

With that in mind, below are the best drones you can get for mapping a golf course.

DJI Mavic 2 Pro

DJI Mavic 2 Pro
$1,900.00

Equipped with a Hasselblad L1D-20c camera with a 20MP 1” CMOS Sensor, the Mavic 2 camera drone lets you capture gorgeous aerial shots in stunning color detail.

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03/07/2024 02:36 pm GMT

✅ Pros

  • Very light and easily portable
  • Quite affordable
  • It’s compatible with third-party software
  • Works as both a photogrammetry and cinematography drone

❌ Cons

  • It’s no longer in production; you may have to get it from resellers

While this drone was released in 2018, it’s still one of the most affordable and accurate drones you can use for mapping.

Its applications range from agriculture to construction, allowing users to create high-resolution orthomosaics models for survey work.

Featuring a 1-inch sensor and 20MP image quality, this drone takes high-quality imagery for photogrammetry.

And that’s not all. It is also compatible with software like DJI GS Pro, DroneDeploy, or Pix4D.

You can use these apps to create a flight plan that the drone will follow to collect the images.

This helps speed up the process, improve accuracy, and make it easier to come up with images to stitch together than manually taking the images.

With a flight time of at least 30 minutes, you can map several acres quickly.

This drone’s batteries are also readily available (you can even use the newer Air 2S batteries), allowing you to map even more acres in a day if you have huge golf courses.

The fact that it comes with a small, lightweight, and foldable design makes it easy to move around on the golf course or in your car.

Besides mapping, you can also use this drone for photography and videography on the golf course. Using it for two purposes makes it one of the most cost-efficient drones for golf courses.

Below is an example of footage of a golf course created using a DJI Mavic 2 Pro:

Here is how you can map using the DJI Mavic 2 Pro:

DJI M300 RTK

Image Credit: DJI

✅ Pros

  • It could have many applications on golf courses and other industries
  • Wide payload capability
  • Stable and easy to use
  • Extended flight time

❌ Cons

  • The drone and the payloads are expensive
  • It’s bulky and takes some time to set up

The M300 RTK is currently the most versatile commercial drone. Its applications range from mapping, surveillance, search, and rescue to firefighting. You just need to have the right payload.

You can attach up to three payloads at once, which could be those sold by DJI or customized third-party payloads, and collect different types of data to accomplish a wide range of tasks on the golf course.

While it’s quite expensive, the M300 RTK would be a perfect addition to your arsenal if you have a business targeting golf course owners.

If you’re looking for a drone for your golf course, you can still get the M300 RTK and hire it out when not using it for extra income.

The RTK, the ability to work with a ground-based station, and the availability of payloads like the H20T for RGB photogrammetry and L1 for LiDAR make it perfect for mapping and surveying.

If you want to use it for surveillance, you can take advantage of the 200x zoom of the H20T, the thermal camera for night operations, and the flight time of up to 45 minutes.

Below is how you can set up the M300 RTK and use it for mapping:

Legal considerations

Before integrating drones into your golf course operations, you must be aware of the legal considerations associated with their use.

Understanding and adhering to the applicable regulations will ensure the safe and legal operation of drones on your golf course.

  1. Understand the regulations in place on flying over people and property, airspace classifications, flying altitudes, and other local and federal regulations.
  2. Know the necessary licensing and certifications required to operate drones on a golf course.

    For instance, the drones may need to be registered, the pilots will need a Part 107 license, and you must adhere to various safety and quality control guidelines.
  3. Get insurance coverage – Drone operations introduce new risks that may not be covered by existing insurance policies.

    Contact your insurance provider to discuss the requirements for insuring your drone activities.

    Having appropriate insurance coverage for liability, property damage, and personal injury will help protect your golf course from unforeseen incidents.
  4. Privacy considerations – Drones equipped with cameras can potentially capture images or video footage of individuals on the golf course.

    Respecting the privacy of golfers and other visitors is important. Ensure that your drone operations comply with relevant privacy laws and regulations.

    Communicate clearly with visitors about your drone usage and the purposes for which the footage may be used.

    Develop protocols for handling and storing data obtained through drone operations, keeping it secure and confidential.
  5. Safety considerations – Drones come with their own risks. You could crash into people or property due to pilot error or malfunctions, you could disrupt animals, etc.

    Besides the safety guidelines given in the regulations, you can also add your own to enhance safety.

    For instance, you can set guidelines on flying close to people and property and train the pilots and personnel on how to act in case of an emergency.
  6. Environmental impact – Golf courses often have delicate ecosystems, including water bodies, flora, and fauna.

    Consider the potential impact of drone operations on the environment. Avoid flying drones over sensitive areas, such as nesting sites or protected habitats.

    Follow best practices for environmental conservation, and ensure your drone operations align with any existing environmental regulations or guidelines.

If you are not aware of all the necessary regulations required for using drones, you can consider hiring drone companies instead.

For one-off projects, it will be easier to work with them since they have the expertise, drones, and knowledge of the regulations they should adhere to.