Cool Products | Fly Me To The Green

By Nelia Joubert-Hartman

A few years ago, the word “drone” may have evoked images of R2D2 or some weird military surveillance machine that we could only imagine in a Matrix world. We spoke to Steven Hartman, a professional drone operator for the past 14 years.

Although drones have been around for a long time, fast development has made them more accessible and more affordable for businesses. Since its first appearance on the hobby scene, drone technology has fast evolved from the geeky guy next door to the specialist who can capture crops, monitor the safety of rhinos, and of late, give the eager golfer and eagles (or maybe birdies) eye view of the course ahead.

VR Victory Lap

2020 was the year for re-thinking, re-imagining and re-engineering. Lockdown and Covid have changed many lives and have plunged us into the virtual world. Tourists, clients and customers have all become familiar with the idea of the “first see, then buy” concept. During 2020 and beyond, we have seen a surge of virtual platforms and products spring to life. “Drone technology is a stable and tested system and has seen an increase in use over the last year. Not only is it useful to market and showcase the particular golf course, but for the owners, it is also a useful tool to use in course maintenance”, Steven says. Drones have been implemented to plan and design world-class golf courses globally. Courses that are using drone fly-overs as part of their marketing strategies have seen a staggering increase in memberships. Over the next few years, experts predict that professional players, golf course owners and greenkeepers, will view drones as an integral tool in their game, course design and course maintenance.

Match Play Marketing

One of the main attractions of the game is that golf courses are beautiful in their own right. As a player, it is almost impossible to experience the entirety of the course and what it has to offer. The high image quality and resolutions drone photography and footage offers truly captures all the splendour of the course. From the clubhouse to a hole-by-hole fly-through, players can picture and immerse themselves in the course, improving their game by visually understanding the course before physically setting foot on it.

From Hacker to Flyer

Since the introduction of drone fly-throughs, players have used the technology to improve their game by studying each hole, reading the hazards and making better club selections. Professional athletes have long used the technique of visualisation to advance their game. It is used as a primary tool to improve quality and athletic ability through mental preparation. By increasing their power of concentration, understanding and expectation of the challenge ahead, the athlete is better able to mentally prepare. Therefore the focus falls solely on performance and less on the unknown. Both professional and amateur players, who have used this technology and visualised the course, have noticed a decrease in their handicap and a huge improvement in their game.

Fly me to the Green

It is clear, that drone technology is very useful for both the course owner and player. Steven warns, however, that as with anything, there are rules and safety protocols that need to be in place, and that it is important to understand that you can’t simply walk into your nearest hobby shop, grab a little robot and fly off. In recent years, the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) had to clamp down on drones and their operators. Due to the fact that it is an unmanned flying object, flight paths and airfields need to be considered.” So while it’s fine to travel to the beach and capture your kiddies frolicking in the waves, it is important to understand that when you use drone footage for your golf course or business, that you need to get a professional that has the necessary qualification and won’t dump you in a liability lawsuit. It is clear that drones can add valuable input to your golf game, course and maintenance, but this needs to be done by someone that understands the technology and also has the experience to give you the best result.

Click here to check out an awesome 18 hole fly-over at Zebula Golf Estate and Spa.


If you would like to get a better understanding or a consultation, contact Steven at

About Simone Anderson

Simone Anderson is the owner and founder of the JUNIOR GOLFER SA magazine as well as Simone Anderson Design and Layout Solutions.