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drones are the new buzz in course technology.

There’s lots of buzz in Millsboro, Del., not only about the new Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course, The Peninsula, or the Schell Brothers gated waterfront community where it resides. The other buzz is overhead from a GoPro equipped drone that is being used to provide some spectacular images and flyovers of both places.

We were first introduced to these flying interlopers while previewing The Peninsula late last fall. Billing itself as the “Pebble Beach of the East,” it may not quite live up to that lofty praise, but it’s certainly among the area’s most scenic and challenging layouts. 

Of course, that’s just the view from ground level. While perched on the 17th tee, we had our first encounter with a drone, and then several holes later, with the drone’s operator, Tim Auman. To our amazement, he proceeded to show us some of the aerial views of the holes we just played.

Auman and Schell Brothers marketing colleague Jeremy Bell are the two responsible for flying and maintaining the drones.

“At the end of 2013, we got a strong push from our company’s owner, Chris Schell, to look into how we can use drones as a marketing tool, and as a technology that can really put us ahead of other builders in terms of supplying information to our customers,” Auman says. “The quadcopter, or drone, has been a great fit for us to show off the area and communities we build in. It does a phenomenal job of giving viewers an image of where the community is in the surrounding area, and how the community lays out in that space. It’s a blend of that really high up aerial photography and on-the-ground photography you’d get with a crane or a jib.”

For an investment of a few thousand dollars, this technology is replacing the expensive use of helicopters and aerial rigs that can
be 10 times the cost for a single usage. But like any new technology, there is a learning curve and kinks to be worked out.

“We’ve either crashed and/or upgraded our drone several times over the past year and a half,” Auman says. “That’s the reality of this technology, is that it’s changing so fast there’s a bit of a race going on between companies to release better equipment every few months.”

The quality of the drone footage is also surprising, given the initial cost investment. The advances in camera technology, especially with the smaller, more rugged formats, make for Hollywood-quality visuals. “Aerial footage and drone footage feel more cinematic,” says Auman.

The Peninsula’s head golf pro, Michael Neider, has used the drones for more than just the course flyover mapping.

“Another area we have used drones for is golf events,” Neider says. “We have filmed some parts of tournaments and participants get a kick out of seeing the drone. It creates a unique perception of the event.”

 

the latest trends hitting the tees.

Fresh from the annual PGA Merchandise Show held in Orlando in January, here’s the hottest golf fashion to help you play well and look good from head-to-toe.

 

Since playing conditions change, so should your eyewear. Oakley’s Switchlock Technology lets you change lenses to keep up with changing light. With high-definition optics and 100 percent UVA protection, they are lightweight, yet durable. These shades make for the optimal levels of performance, comfort and style. $240.

 

The new GolfBuddy BB5 brings some fashion flair to the golf GPS world, combining innovative features and a sleek design that can be worn on and off the course. The device comes pre-loaded with just about every course in the world, providing a player with the distance to the front, center and back of the green. The BB5 has a 13-hour battery life in golf mode, a full three weeks in watch mode, and a choice of seven different interchangeable color bands. $299.99. 

 

Who could make visors cool again? Chip Kelly? Nope. Michelle Wie approached Nike to design old school, ultra-wide brim visors—a fashion statement with an added sun protection benefit. She will be sporting this retro and feminine look as she defends her title in the U.S. Women’s Open in Lancaster, Pa. $20.

 

TRUE linkswear has upped its game yet again for 2015. We loved the comfort of last year’s TRUE lyt model, but not the shoe’s performance in wet conditions. With this year’s game changer hybrid design, a new P-Motion Technology adds even more comfort, while a more aggressive tread creates a significant improvement in traction. The TRUE game changer pro model is the first spiked shoe the company has offered, but in a seriously comfortable footprint. All its shoes follow the zero drop philosophy—the shoes are level from heel to toe. The game changer hybrid looks great, feels comfortable and performs well. TRUE linkswear is a company that gets it. $150.

 

‘X’ marks the spot for one of the coolest belt offerings from Nexbelt, the company with the “no-holes” approach. Besides looking cool—Jim Furyk has been seen sporting the X-model on tour—the X-Factor offers a performance and comfort advantage—a PreciseFit system that provides a more personalized belt adjustment with its patented ratcheting system. But really, it just looks cool. $55.99.

 

Vineyard Vines’ new golf line is a perfect match for golfers—think performance preppy. The new Performance Jersey ¼-Zip looks good on the course or off, and takes the chill off those early morning rounds with a 100 percent polyester material, a zippered chest pocket and rib trim on the cuffs and hem. $118.

 

Bubba Watson’s visit caused quite a stir at the Kentwool booth at this year’s PGA Merchandise Show. He wore these comfortable socks when he won the Masters in 2012 and 2014, and they felt just as good on my high-handicapper feet. The superfine Merino wool makes for a sockless feel and a blister-free walk around 18 holes. Before you try them, they are just a pair of socks. After you try them, they are your new standard for all future socks. $19.95.

 

Looking good when the weather gets bad is what Galvin Green products are all about. Its August rain pants are constructed from Gore-Tex Paclite Technology fabric, an ultralight trouser that keeps foul weather at bay. Special features include waterproof leg zippers, Velcro hem width adjusters and an elasticated waist. $244. 

 

Women are bringing their own fashion touches to the game of golf after years of having to choose from the same polo and khakis options as men. Karen Preston and Lorrie Forgatch founded the Lizzie Driver Company in 2011 when they noticed that women’s golf wear was just not flattering. Their line of performance fashion works in golf or casual settings, and their new collection offers dozens of coordinated looks. You’ll see many women professionals sporting LD wear when the U.S. Women’s Open starts play in Lancaster, Pa., in July. $98-$136.

 

One of the greatest advances in golf technology, these devices allow you to simulate a shot. Not long ago, they were quite costly—think $50,000 and up—and only available to professionals. But like all things tech, simulators have gotten way cheaper and way better. They now fit into a briefcase, rather than a piano case. Here are two of the better ones for the home.

 

This compact simulator uses the latest analytic and shot-tracer technology. You can play 18 holes on the world’s most famous courses while 16 sensors track your club as your swing moves through the impact area. The PinPoint accuracy system offers instant feedback on every shot. The unit interfaces easily with Window or MAC platforms, as well as projection units. $499.95, www.optishot.com

 

A serious simulator for serious golfers, the SkyTrak measures all the byproducts of your swing—ball speed, backspin, launch angle, side-spin and angle, carry distance, club-head speed, roll, angle of descent, and more. It’s gone up against some of the leading commercial monitors with excellent results in terms of accuracy and realistic ball-flight depiction. The only drawback: The software can only be used on the Apple platform—and only on the newest line of iPad Air models. $1,995.

 

Datrek’s new Go Lite Pro Stand Bag weighs in at just over 5 pounds. The bag has a 14-way mesh padded organizer top with full-length individual dividers and an ergonomic handle on top of the bag. The Go Lite Pro offers plenty of storage with five pockets, including an oversized ball pocket. There’s also a large fleece-lined pocket to protect your valuables. Even with all that space, the ergonomic padded double shoulder strap and hip pad make walking the course less of a workout. The Go Lite Pro comes
in 10 different color schemes ranging from conservative to flashy. $160. 

 

Sun Mountain is well known for its protective clothing and outerwear, and the same waterproof technology is featured in the H2NO line of bags. Your equipment will stay dry in the H2NO 14-way, protected by individual, full-length dividers and a matching rain hood. The stand bag offers a 10.5-inch, 14-way top with a newer flared opening for easier club retrieval. Weighing in at just over 5 pounds, the bag offers an Auto-Fit Dual Strap System that is easy to adjust and is easy to get on and off. The bag includes five storage pockets, a valuables pocket and a full-length clothing pocket. The bag also is designed with a cart-friendly bottom with locking legs. $300. 

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