Recreational Property

Recreational Property

C H A P T E R 19 Recreational Property 19-1 OVERVIEW Outdoor recreational activities and sports take up an increasing amount of time and human effort...

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19 Recreational Property 19-1 OVERVIEW Outdoor recreational activities and sports take up an increasing amount of time and human effort, particularly in more affluent countries as well as countries that cater to tourism. From a day at the beach to skydiving, recreation involves various types of land use including private property and public spaces. These sites range from more-or-less natural environments to highly altered landscapes. Some places may be open to the public to conduct a wide variety of activities, such as Bureau of Land Management sites in the western United States. Other places may be highly restricted and require permission, entrance fees, special training, limited seasons, etc. In nearly all cases, some type of management system is in place to control the types of activities that are allowed and to provide for maintenance of the sites. Among the more popular outdoor sports are golf and water-based activities, such as swimming, sailing, and fishing. Two examples of golf—traditional and disc— are presented below as well as property management at a recreational lake. Small-format aerial photography provides for detailed site assessment as well as general overviews of site layout and property conditions.

19-2  TRADITIONAL GOLF COURSES Traditional (ball) golf course management is a sizable recreational industry worldwide. Demand depends upon demographics and population growth tempered by economic conditions that influence disposable income and leisure time. In many developing countries, building golf courses is done to increase tourism and enhance local economies, which is the case in central and eastern Europe (Fig. 19-1). Golf courses represent a type of landscape architecture in which the topography, soils, drainage, and vegetation are altered, sometimes greatly, from natural conditions. In many situations, the maintenance of turf requires substantial use of fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides, as

Small-Format Aerial Photography and UAS Imagery

well as frequent irrigation, mowing, and soil treatments. These practices may have deleterious side effects, and many golf courses are attempting to minimize their environmental impacts nowadays. SFAP is a tool for managers to visualize and evaluate the conditions of the golf course and consequences of management practices. For example, managers could use these photographs to monitor fairway species encroachment, measure the degree of shading from trees, evaluate irrigation systems, visualize golf-cart traffic patterns, or track changes to green dimensions caused by mowing patterns. The following example demonstrates the potential of SFAP for analysis of turf and irrigation conditions in the semiarid climate of southwestern Kansas, United States. The Southwind Country Club is located about 3  km (2  miles) south of Garden City, Kansas. Renamed the The Golf Club at Southwind in 2009, the course has 18 holes, is 6920 yards (~6330  m) long at par 71, and hosts championship tournaments at all levels (Southwind 2017). The supply of irrigation water is limited by water-rights appropriation. The country club includes suburban housing around the golf course (Fig. 19-2). The housing division and golf course each have a high-capacity water well, tapping the High Plains aquifer. In an attempt to evaluate the effectiveness of irrigation on the golf course, color-infrared kite aerial photography was conducted to show cool-season turf at its peak growth stage in the spring (Aber et al. 2003). The golf course is constructed on rolling sand hills terrain, and the native vegetation is sand-sage prairie. The irrigated bentgrass (Agrostis palustris) fairways and bluegrass (Poa pratensis) roughs contrast sharply with dry sand-sage prairie in color-infrared photographs (Fig.  19-3). The irrigation plan consists of overlapping water circles along the fairways. Color-infrared images demonstrated clearly that water circles extend beyond the fairways into the adjacent sand-sage prairie in many places. A test plot (30 by 30  m) was established to examine the effectiveness of different soil treatments to deal with winterkill of fairway grass. A vertical color-infrared photograph of the test plot early in the growing season revealed the degree


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19.  Recreational Property

Fig. 19-1  Golf course near the Tatry Mountains in Slovakia at Stará Lesná. Part of a touristic complex of hotels, ski lifts, hiking trails, bicycle and roller-blade trails, sport camps, and other recreational activities based on the scenic beauty and clean environment of the Tatry Mountains. Kite photo taken with a compact digital camera by JSA and SWA with J. Janočko and B. Fricovsky.

Fig. 19-2  Overview of The Golf Club at Southwind, near Garden City, Kansas, United States. Suburban housing borders the golf course, upper left and right. Kite photo taken with a compact digital camera.

of ­winterkill that occurred during the prior winter (Fig.  19-4). It also showed darker-colored turf that is related to encroachment of mixed bluegrass and ryegrass (Lolium perenne) species. Various combinations of these grasses were overseeded in previous years to provide quick cover following winterkill. Analysis of

the study plot image showed that 86% was bentgrass, 11% was a blue/ryegrass combination, and 3% was winterkilled (Fig. 19-5). The Golf Club at Southwind appears to be facing financial difficulties amid staff layoffs, temporary c­losing, and changes in management (Marshall 2017). This is

19-2 Traditional Golf Courses


Fig. 19-3  Color-infrared image of the 15th and 17th fairways at The Golf Club at Southwind. Bright pink and red indicate photosynthetically active, irrigated vegetation of the golf course. Some irrigation water has enhanced growth of the sand-sage prairie adjacent to the fairways (A). Blue patches in the fairways (B) indicate zones with weak grass. Kite flyers are standing left of scene center. Image acquired with an analog SLR camera and a yellow filter (Aber et al. 2003, Fig. 4).

Fig. 19-4  Vertical, color-infrared image of test plot on fairway 14 at The Golf Club at Southwind. Large aerial targets are 5 by 5 feet (1½ by 1½ m) square. Small dots indicate grid cells. Pink turf is healthy bentgrass; darker red is encroaching blue/ryegrass mixture (bottom center); gray-white indicates weak or dead turf. Person standing to left. Kite photo acquired with an analog SLR camera and a yellow filter (Aber et al. 2003, Fig. 5).


19.  Recreational Property

Fig. 19-6  Sign giving information for hole 12 on the Jones Park East disc golf course in Emporia, Kansas, United States. OB = out of bounds.

Fig.  19-5  Reclassified image of the vertical color-infrared airphoto

showing the 30 × 30 m test plot, in which bentgrass (gray), blue/ryegrass (black) encroachment, and winterkilled turf (white) are delineated and quantified. Compare with previous figure. From Aber et al. (2003, Fig. 6).

s­ymptomatic of traditional golf across the United States, which currently has less than 15,000 courses (WAG 2018). More than 800 courses have closed during the past decade, however, and many of these abandoned courses have been converted into housing developments (Jacobs 2018). Meanwhile, disc golf is rapidly gaining in popularity in the United States and elsewhere around the world.

19-3  DISC GOLF COURSES Disc golf, also known as Frisbee golf, is similar to traditional (ball) golf. Courses typically have nine or 18 holes, and the disc is thrown from a tee pad toward a basket that represents the hole (Fig. 19-6). Ed Headrick is considered the Father of Disc Golf (PDGA 2016). In 1966, he invented the Frisbee, which evolved into modern discs; he patented the Disc Golf Pole Hole in 1975, and he founded the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) in 1976. From then, disc golf grew rapidly and spread across the United States and Canada and eventually to many other countries. As of 2017, PDGA had more than 40,000 active members and sanctioned more than 3500 tournaments around the world that year (PDGA Demographics 2018). Most disc golf courses are in the United States (>5800). Finland is second with more than 460 courses and a population of just 5.5 million (Central Intelligence Agency 2018), giving it the highest per-capita number of disc golf courses. Altogether,

some 8–12 million people have played disc golf, and about two million play on a regular basis. Disc Golf Pro Tour (2016) predicted that disc golf courses would surpass traditional courses during the coming decade. The growing popularity of disc golf is based on several factors; less land, and less course maintenance are required. Existing public parks, school grounds, and traditional golf courses are often sites for developing disc golf courses. In addition, disc golf is easier to learn, less expensive, quicker to play, and it appeals to a younger demographic than does traditional golf. Small UAS have been used to collect low-level video of disc golf games in progress and follow discs in flight, as demonstrated on YouTube (e.g. Nelson 2015; Jomez 2016). UAS video also provides aerial tours of disc golf courses (e.g. Cooper 2013a,b). These tours typically are flown at the disc level in order to follow paths through trees, over ponds, and around other obstacles with annotation about hole number, length, and par. Such visual information is especially valuable for those playing a course for the first time. Note: under current US FAA rules, such drone flights could be conducted only with permission. The cities of Emporia and Olpe in Lyon County, Kansas have emerged as a disc golf destination and have hosted several major tournaments in recent years including the 2016 PDGA World Championships. In April 2018, the Glass Blown Open was the largest disc golf tournament in history with more than 1600 players (Hill 2018). Lyon County has nine disc golf courses with a county population of just ~33,500 (US Census 2016). This dense concentration of courses is explained in part by Eric McCabe, local resident, who designed several of the courses and was the 2010 PDGA World Champion. He was joined by Paige Bjerkaas, another Emporia resident, who won the 2018 PDGA Women’s World Championship (Sherwood 2018). Still another factor is the local founding of Dynamic Discs in 2005, which has grown rapidly

19-3 Disc Golf Courses

to become a ­major supplier of disc golf equipment and sponsor of tournaments (Dynamic Discs 2018). Disc golf courses are rated on a scale 0–5 with 5 = best of the best (DGCourseReview 2018). Following are brief reviews and SFAP imagery of four 18-hole disc golf courses with high ratings from the Emporia-Olpe vicinity. Such imagery taken from 50 to 150 m above the ground is useful for golfers to preview course layout and playing conditions. Peter Pan Park, Emporia—The Peter Pan Park– Optimist DGC is located in a public park on the flood-


plain adjacent to the Cottonwood River. It is 6006 feet (~1830 m) long, par 57, and rated 3.8 (very good). It is described as short and technical (DGCourseReview 2018). Landscape is relatively flat, but numerous trees present obstacles. Water is a factor for up to eight holes; many discs are lost while playing around the pond, and one hole is a peninsula shot (Fig. 19-7). Jones Park, Emporia—Jones Park is another public site situated on hilly upland terrain. It hosts two disc golf courses—west and east (Fig.  19-8). The Jones Park East course is 6665 to 8044 feet (~2030–2450 m)

Fig. 19-7  Portion of the Peter Pan Park–Optimist DGC including a playground and sizable pond. One hole is located on the peninsula surrounded by trees (*). Kite photo taken with an MILC by JSA with T. Nagasako.

Fig. 19-8  Panoramic overview of Jones Park East disc golf course. Ponds, roads, and tall grass are OB (out of bounds) areas. Hole 12 on right side (see next figure). Assembled from two wide-angle kite photos taken with a compact digital camera by JSA with T. Nagasako.


19.  Recreational Property

Fig. 19-9  Close-up shot of Jones Park East hole 12. Tee pad on left (*), pond in center, and raised hole designed by Eric McCabe on right (<). See Fig. 19-6 for signage. Kite photo taken with a compact digital camera by JSA with T. Nagasako.

Fig. 19-10  Panoramic overview of the southern portion of the Eagle Disc Golf Course, Olpe, Kansas, United States. Many holes are located on fishing piers that form peninsulas around the lake margin. Note the open aspect of the surrounding prairie landscape. Assembled from two wide-angle kite photos taken with a compact digital camera by JSA with T. Nagasako.

long, par 62, and rated 4.0 (excellent). The east course is ­especially known for long fairways (DGCourseReview 2018). The Jones Park West course is 5354 to 6637 feet (~1630–2020 m) long, par 55, and rated 4.2 (excellent). Both courses have scattered trees and holes that involve shots over small ponds (Fig. 19-9). Eagle Disc Golf Course, Olpe—This course surrounds a rural lake in an upland prairie setting. There are few trees, and the site may be quite windy. The course is 8130 to 8395 feet (~2480–2560 m) long, par 62–63, and rated = 4.3 (excellent). The Eagle DGC is described as a championship caliber course … long and challenging, especially when it's windy (DGCourseReview 2018). Many shots are over water, and many holes are located on islands or peninsulas (Fig. 19-10).

19-4  LAKE KAHOLA, KANSAS Lake Kahola is a relatively small, man-made reservoir located in the Flint Hills of east-central Kansas ­(Fig. 19-11).

It was built in the 1930s as a water-supply lake for the nearby city of Emporia, and the lake surroundings were developed as a park with recreational cabins and homes. The building lots were leased from the city under a longterm arrangement with the Kahola Park Cabin Owners Association. Early in the 21st century, however, the city began the complex legal process of selling the lake and land to the cabin owners association. This sale was completed in 2007, when the renamed Kahola Homeowners Association (KHA) took ownership of the lake and surrounding property. Over the years, development of cabin sites at Lake Kahola had proceeded in a somewhat piecemeal manner, which was aggravated by the lack of original survey markers. The existing plat of lease lots was a schematic blueprint chart of unknown age, which was not a legally valid survey (Fig. 19-12). This problem was exacerbated over the years by the construction of increasingly large recreational homes and numerous garages, boathouses, docks, and other structures. Two issues were of primary concern: (1) wise management for future development, and (2) arbitration of disputes between adjacent

19-4 Lake Kahola, Kansas


Fig. 19-11  Overview of the eastern portion of Lake Kahola with the dam and spillway on the far side. Deciduous trees are bare and grass is dormant in this winter scene. Numerous cabins and houses are visible around the perimeter of the lake. The area depicted in the next figure is marked (*). Kite photo taken with a compact digital camera.

Fig. 19-12  Portion of existing property chart for northeastern part of Lake Kahola, Kansas. Size and shape of building lots are idealized and do not correspond to actual lot dimensions. Based on a blueprint of unknown age (Aber and Aber 2003, Fig. 2).


19.  Recreational Property

lot ­owners. In such densely developed situations, a few inches (cm) are sometimes critical for accurate planning and construction purposes. Recognizing these issues, the cabin owners association began an effort to place permanent survey markers at the corners of all building lots in the park. To supplement the ground-based survey markers and lot measurements, large-scale airphotos were selected as the tool for documenting lake-shore development and lot boundaries. Vertical kite aerial photography was conducted during the winter, leaf-off period in order to obtain views with minimal obstruction from trees (Aber and Aber 2003). This approach proved to be the most cost-effective means to acquire imagery with sufficiently high spatial resolution for property management applications at Lake Kahola. Conducting vertical photography around an irregular shoreline proved challenging, especially in regard to numerous power lines, roads, fences, and trees in vicinity of the buildings. Furthermore, images had to be acquired without snow cover so that survey markers could be located. These requirements limited the number of suitable days in which field work could be conducted. Lot boundary markers were identified with additional ground survey, and these markers were annotated on the images as well (Fig. 19-13). Relating ground survey markers to the airphotos was straightforward in most

cases, except where long winter shadows fell across features in the images. Individual images were arranged in sequence to provide complete coverage of all buildings and lot boundaries around the lake, and sets of overlapping images were mosaicked together. The images were assembled in webpage format on a compact disk (CD) so that users may easily select images for visual display or paper printout. The KHA is able to access the images quickly to evaluate architectural plans, building permits, and property changes. The images in this database could be updated periodically to add new annotation as needed, for example locations of water wells, propane tanks, sanitary holding tanks, etc. In the years since the airphotos were acquired, many changes have appeared in connection with construction of new houses, retaining walls, parking areas, sheds, garages, decks, etc. The caretaker has referenced these aerial images countless times for property management issues.

19-5 SUMMARY Traditional golf is popular around the world, and golf courses represent substantial human alterations of the natural environment. SFAP is especially useful for golf-course managers to visualize and evaluate the

Fig. 19-13  Vertical kite aerial photograph showing a portion of northeastern Lake Kahola. The image is annotated with lot numbers and survey markers (red). Features as small as 15 cm, the size of survey markers, may be identified in the original image. Note long tree shadows. North toward top; compare with right side of chart in previous figure. Kite photo taken with a compact digital camera. Based on Aber and Aber (2003, Fig. 3).

19-5 Summary

e­ ffectiveness and impacts of their practices. Low-height, large-scale images, particularly color-infrared photographs, depict vegetation conditions related to irrigation, mowing, and applications of fertilizer, herbicides, pesticides, and other treatments. This type of detailed information is valuable for managers to improve their methods in order to maintain viable golf courses and to achieve minimal environmental impacts. Disc golf is gaining in popularity rapidly as courses require less land and maintenance; it is easier to learn, less expensive, quicker to play, and it appeals to a younger demographic than does traditional golf. Small UAS video has been utilized to display disc golf players in action. UAS also provides fly-through video of disc golf


courses, although under current FAA rules, such drone flights could be conducted only with permission. SFAP from a higher vantage (50–150 m above the ground) is useful for golfers to preview course layout and playing conditions. Highly detailed ground survey information may be necessary for management of some recreational properties, such as individual lots around Lake Kahola, Kansas. High-resolution vertical SFAP was the basis for creating an aerial survey of cabins, houses, and other structures around the lake. Lot numbers and survey markers were annotated on the images, which have proven quite useful for the lake caretaker to deal with property management issues.