Drone maps golf course at Waverley Country Club in Milwaukie
Canadian golfer Judith Kyrinis beat fellow countrywoman Terrill Samuel in the 56th U.S. Senior Women's Amateur Championship, held Sept. 9 to 14 at Milwaukie's Waverley Country Club.
This is the seventh United States Golf Association championship tournament played at WCC, but the first time the senior women's event has been played at the course.
"This is a national championship for women age 50 and over. For that group of people, this is the World Series or the Super Bowl," said David Jacobsen, who co-chaired the event with Clackamas County resident Cynthia Potwin. Both are members of Waverley Country Club, a private club situated alongside the banks of the Willamette River.
The tournament "means a lot to these competitors, many of whom have played for 50 years," Jacobsen said, adding that the oldest player is 72.
This tournament also marked the first time the 132 competitors were given a digital program instead of a paper one and the first time that a video map of the course taken by a drone was embedded in the program.
The event is now over, the golfers have departed, the flags of the seven countries represented by the competitors have been furled and the information on the scoreboard has been taken down.
The digital map of the golf course remains available on the club's website however, and so when guests come to the course they can see a 3-D map of each hole ahead of time.
Digital program, map
Jacobsen first encountered the notion of a digital program when he attended a media and marketing conference last November at the USGA's headquarters at Golf House, in Far Hills, New Jersey.
Someone in the audience asked if there had ever been a tournament with a digital program and was told no.
And so when he returned to Portland, Jacobsen proposed the idea of the first digital program to ever be used in a USGA championship event.
All major tournaments produce a paper-based, full-color program, with a listing of competitors and their biographies plus a "two-sentence description of each hole," Jacobsen noted.
These can cost as much as $10,000 to produce, he added.
He noted that a digital program made sense from an economic standpoint, and it would contain an embedded link to a video overview of each hole on the course as well.
"With a drone, you get a better view of the course, as the drone can take a picture of the hole at a much better depth than you get with one-dimensional image," he noted.
Once the decision was made to explore this idea, Jacobsen began looking for someone who could produce a video made by a drone, technically known as an unmanned aircraft system or UAS.
"I wanted it to be very professional," because it would be used for a national championship and it would remain on the club's website, he said.
Finding the professionals
Eventually, Jacobsen connected with Lori A. Brown, president of Brown Unmanned Aerial Solutions, LLC, based in Lake Oswego.
"My expertise is helping companies evaluate the use of a drone; the regulations, the benefits and how to develop a drone program within existing procedures," Brown said.
Her company has a partnership with Roswell Flight Test Crew, which mounts cameras on flying radio-controlled models with video transmitters on board that send live pictures of what the model is seeing. It is owned by Tigard resident Patrick Sherman.
"Patrick is in demand around the world as a speaker, trainer and expert commercial drone pilot. Given the quality and importance of the WCC project, I knew he would be perfect for it," Brown said.
Brown was also a good fit for the project, as she is an avid golfer and has been a member of the Oswego Lake Country Club for 17 years.
Mapping the course
"Lori and Patrick came out and did a demo, and they were the best choice," Jacobsen said.
Sherman noted that he is not a golfer, and so relied on Brown and Jacobsen to highlight the details that would be important to golfers.
"I think that my lack of familiarity gave me the opportunity to explore this beautiful, manicured setting from a purely aesthetic perspective," he said.
Sherman added, "While the technical details are obviously crucial for players on the course, my experience in aerial photography allowed me to bring a sense of adventure and romance to Waverley."
"There are some photos taken from the river with spectacular [views] that only a drone can get," Jacobsen said.
When the time came to put the program and video map together, Jacobsen called on a familiar name to do the voiceover — his brother Peter Jacobsen, a professional golfer and commentator on the Golf Channel and NBC.
Peter Jacobsen has played on the PGA Tour and the Champions Tour. He has won seven events on the PGA Tour and two events on the Champions Tour, both majors.
But more importantly, in the voiceover world, David Jacobsen added, his brother is called "One-Take Jake," because of his ability to nail a voiceover assignment the first time through.
"We grew up here; this is a special place to us," he added, noting that the two brothers have been on the Waverley course since they were 12 years old.
In fact, Peter Jacobsen "did the voiceover from memory. He can speak to the nuances of each hole, because he knows the course so well," David Jacobsen said.
The final digital program with the embedded map was sent to each competitor before the tournament began so they could familiarize themselves with the course, he noted.
I think drones could do a lot more for golf courses than simply help acquaint new players with the course," Sherman said.
"Drones equipped with multispectral cameras, for instance, could help greens keepers by identifying areas that need a little extra water or fertilizer: saving time and money by applying those resources only where they are needed, rather than across the entire course," he noted.
Jacobsen agrees, adding, "There are tons of uses on a golf course that are just beginning to be explored.
Brown added, "The cameras have sensors to see the type of damage [on a green] before the human eye can see it."
A brief history of Waverley Country Club
The club was established in April 1896, with its original golf course laid out several miles northeast, in the Richmond neighborhood, near the present-day corner of Southeast César E. Chávez and Powell boulevards.
In 1897, the club moved to its present location on the east bank of the Willamette River, just south of Sellwood.
It was built on the site of an orchard owned by Oregon pioneer Henderson Luelling, who is known as the "Father of the Pacific Fruit Industry." It was at this location where Luelling and his orchard foreman Ah Bing developed the Bing cherry.
A golf course was built at the current location in 1898 and was designed by Jack Moffat.
The club, which originally was spelled Waverly after the Waverly-Richmond district in which it was first established, changed its name to Waverley in 1912, with some accounts blaming an engraving error for the change in spelling.
Waverley Country Club has hosted seven U.S. Golf Association championships.
The first Oregon Amateur Golf Championship was held there in 1904, and Waverley hosted the Lewis & Clark Century Golf Tournament in 1905 and 2005.
Tiger Woods won the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship at WCC in 1993.
For more information about Waverley Country Club, visit waverley.cc.
For more information about the USGA, visit usga.org.
Information courtesy of Wikipedia, WCC website and USGA website.
For more information about Waverley Country Club and to see the digital program, visit waverley.cc.
To learn more about the Roswell Flight Test Crew, visit roswellflighttestcrew.com.