“You don’t understand how much elevation Augusta has until you walk it!” It’s a quote I hear often from people who have been on the grounds. I haven’t been fortunate enough to get out to Augusta National Golf Club. In an effort to see really how much elevation change occurs on the golf course, I did the next best thing I could think of, created a 3D image of the playing surface using any available data I could get my hands on.
The United States Geological Survey has a pretty extensive database of Lidar for the United States. For those unfamiliar with Lidar, it’s a method in which ground elevation is determined by flying overhead, shooting light at the surface and measuring the time it takes to reach the sensor on the aircraft. From this information, an elevation can be calculated and assigned to that point.
Lidar isn’t flawless, you can tell from the raw data points that trees often cause a confusion to the method and can cause some points to be filtered out.
What’s so nice about these points? They are helpful for planners and engineers when determining existing drainage patterns or low-lying areas. What’s nice about it for me is that it’s possible to get a visual of what is going on a golf course.
The points can be turned into contour lines shown below or even a color ramp to gain a better visualization.
The contours shown are in 5-foot intervals, which means each line is a change in elevation of 5-feet. I had originally tried 1-foot contours, but the exhibit was a little cluttered. Quick view of the 10th hole and the 18th hole show this:
Hole 10 has an approximately 100-foot elevation drop from what appears to be the pro tees, down to the green. The elevations of the hole actually drops approximately 105-feet, which is at the low area in front of the green.
Hole 18, aside from having one of the tightest driving shoots to hit, plays uphill 60 – 65 ft.
The color ramp is a different way of visualizing the course. Red on the above image are the higher ground elevations and blue are the lower. This color ramp uses a 20-foot interval for each color.
When I started this little exercise, I was hoping to find a complete map of the course. Unfortunately I was only able to a small portion of the course shown on the images above. Both of these images show additional holes on the back side, so take a look for yourself and get a do your best to visualize how these holes are contoured.