Monitoring Moisture At National Golf Links with Afternoon Flights

By William Salinetti, CGCS, Superintendent at National Golf Links of America

GreenSight thermal imaging allows superintendents to see relative evapotranspiration rates across their course. Morning flights are convenient, but afternoon flights clearly highlight moisture variations allowing better optimization of irrigation.

Early Morning Flights

The GreenSight Team and I originally agreed upon a 7:30am flight schedule. The morning flight was convenient and we found the visible imagery to be helpful but GreenSight E.T. Maps weren’t helping the team spot variations in moisture levels.

 

Morning dew, overnight irrigation, and the low sun-angle limiting photosynthesis activity meant that the course consistently appeared wet early in the day.

Afternoon Flights

At my request, a second 2pm afternoon flight was added. The GreenSight team and I immediately noticed much more variation in the E.T. Maps. Drier native areas immediately became differentiable by their yellow color in the E.T. maps. Maintained fairways showed much more E.T. and were highlighted in purple in the maps. The fairways themselves showed much more variation with areas that would tolerate reduced irrigation showing up dark purple or black. Drier areas with reduced E.T. to cool them appeared orange.

Benefits

The afternoon E.T. Map helps me task my team to drier areas with reduced E.T., highlighted in orange. Areas where irrigation can be dialed back are clearly shown as well in dark purple.

GreenSight’s Green Viewer summary also allows better targeting of manual soil moisture measurements on drier greens (with orange/yellow color) and identifies areas in need of hand watering. This allows us to maintain more consistent green speeds and utilize the team more effectively improving course quality.