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Course Care and Technology: 5 Things Every Golfer Should Know

By USGA Green Section Staff

| Sep 14, 2018

New technology is changing how golf courses are maintained.

New technology impacts almost every aspect of our lives, including the golf courses we play. Innovation is changing how golf courses are maintained, allowing superintendents to deliver quality playing conditions more efficiently and effectively. Here are five things every golfer should know about the latest course care technology:

1. Robots are mowing putting greens.

It might sound like science fiction, but robotic putting green mowers are actually being used on golf courses across the U.S. A staff member transports the robotic mower to each green and sets up several positioning beacons. From there, the robot mows the entire green on its own, with straight lines and a consistent perimeter cut. While the robot mows, the staff member can rake bunkers, clean up debris and perform other course maintenance tasks.

2. Drones are giving golf course superintendents an eye in the sky.

Drones are becoming an increasingly popular part of golf course maintenance. They can be used to study shade issues, document course changes and highlight various maintenance practices. They are also being equipped with sensor technology that allows them to fly over a course and provide superintendents with data that helps evaluate turf performance and identify potential issues. Some courses have a drone that automatically flies the same route each day to provide consistent and easy-to-compare information about course conditions.

3. GPS-guided sprayers are improving applications and reducing costs.

GPS-guided sprayers greatly reduce the risk of human error during spray applications. Each nozzle is controlled by a computer that confines the application to the desired target area and prevents overlapping and skipping. Some units even have automated steering. The applications are highly precise and there is less waste, which improves playing conditions and saves a significant amount of time and money each year.


GPS technology allows spray applications to be more efficient and effective than ever before, saving time and money.

4. Superintendents use sensor technology to guide golf course irrigation.

In the past, superintendents and their teams made irrigation decisions based on visual assessments and how soil samples felt to the touch. These methods can be effective, but they are highly subjective and can easily lead to inconsistent and inefficient water use. Today, in-ground sensors provide precise information about key factors such as soil moisture, temperature and salinity. Portable moisture meters allow precise readings to be taken at any location on the course and mapped using GPS technology. All these data help ensure that water is only applied where needed.

5. The newest technology may not yet be at your course, but it's coming.

Lots of new course care technology is already in widespread use, including portable moisture meters. However, some of the latest innovations are still expensive and in the early stages of development. As costs decrease and the benefits increase, use of the newest technologies will continue to grow.


New technologies, like portable moisture meters, are improving course conditions and helping staff get more from their time.

Don’t forget, there was a time when automobiles and personal computers would have been considered wildly out of reach for most people and today they are integral parts of our everyday lives. New course care technology is heading down that same road.

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