Mapping golf courses with Mapillary and OpenStreetMap

Mapillary and OpenStreetMap contributor Peter Leth shares his experiences encouraging open data contribution and usage on the golf course.

If we make it easy to use and benefit from open projects, their relevance will be better understood. That is my strategy in trying to empower people with all the possibilities that they have through open content, open tools and open licenses.

For two days in August, I drove around in a golf cart on the Danish golf course of Skovbanen in Råsted. I took around 7,000 images with the phone mounted to the front of the golf cart. Here is one of the sequences from August.

There are also 18 360º images which I took with my Ricoh Theta at each of the holes. This was all a fun experiment with my real purpose at the golf course mapping more so than golf.

When mapping golf courses in OpenStreetMap, aerial imagery is useful to discern features like sand bunkers, greens, and the fairway. There are many other features however where street-level imagery is the better tool. This includes mapping water posts, toilet facilities, steps, maybe even the location of the hole. Accessibility information for mobility impaired players particularly benefits from street-level images.

I often make it a habit to recommend the Mapillary app to people so that they can capture their travels. It's an easy way to collect data of the world around us in a way that is more open, more democratic, and more human than a service like Google Street View. For people interested in hobbies like golf, cycling, hiking, or geocaching, it's also a way to improve knowledge and/or infrastructure that relate to those activities. Even golf simulators these days are using data from OpenStreetMap and Microsoft's Flight Simulator is yet another recent example showing the widespread use of OpenStreetMap.

My goal on the golf course was to see whether I can bring awareness to open tools, particularly among the players and employees at the golf course. If can demonstrate how golf courses can be mapped and visualized by the broader community, we can improve interest in the golf course. We might also be able to motivate them to start looking at what other open tools can do.

  1. So one purpose is just to make it possible for golfers and guests to enjoy beautiful images that will make them more likely to visit the courses, giving them a beautiful introduction of a walk through with street-level images.
  2. A second purpose is to show the staff that these images can be valuable in their marketing, newsletters, merchandises and profile on both their homepage and their social media.
  3. Thirdly there are some other aspects that are also interesting. That is the data that can be pulled out of the images. Take a look at the imagery available at Skovbanen golf course and we can get a discussion going on how to map golf courses most effectively.

Above all, I want to bring awareness to open licenses like Creative Commons CC BY-SA 4.0 and how they relate to real world activities such as golf.

/Peter Leth, Mapillary and OpenStreetMap contributor

Peter Leth is chairman in both the organisation OpenDenmark and the Danish chapter of Creative Commons. He is also active on Mapillary and OpenStreetMap. You can read more about the open tools he used on the golf course (in Danish) here.

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