Date: Wed 19 Jan 2011

Using Google Earth to help you measure irregularly shaped areas with surprising accuracy

The USGA Green Section Record recently drew attention to the use of Google Earth to help with estimating costs of golf course projects. One of the most important steps is to accurately measure the area involved. This is easier said than done given the irregular shapes of greens, bunkers, fairways, etc. Fortunately, there is an on-line tool that makes the marking and measuring of such areas extremely simple and surprisingly accurate. Plus, you can save measured areas for future reference.

This bunker was selected in just a few seconds and calculated to have an area of 3334.78 square feet and a perimeter of 381.44 linear feet. (Picture courtesy of Travis Moore, director of maintenance, Club at Sonterra, San Antonio, Texas)

This bunker was selected in just a few seconds and calculated to have an area of 3334.78 square feet and a perimeter of 381.44 linear feet. (Picture courtesy of Travis Moore, director of maintenance, Club at Sonterra, San Antonio, Texas)

Google Earth is a program that most golf course superintendents have utilized to get a bird's eye view of their courses. While the free version allows you to perform liner measurements (is the 100 yard marker actually 100 yards from the center of #7 green?) it does not provide the ability to measure the area of polygons. By upgrading to the paid version, Google Earth Pro, any portion of the course can be easily outlined and the area calculated. Outlined areas can be saved and used in presentations and other documentation. Google Earth Pro costs $399 per year and Google offers a free seven-day trial period.

Check it out for yourself at the Google Earth site.

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