Jim-SmithJim Smith Jr., a past Philadelphia PGA Section president, the 2006 Section Golf Professional of the Year, a two-time Section Bill Strausbaugh Award winner and 2002 Section PGA Merchandiser of the Year for Private Facilities, is PGA director of golf at the Philadelphia Cricket Club in Flourtown, Pennsylvania, the host facility of the 2015 PGA Professional National Championship.

Last July, through a former student of mine who has become an avid drone user, we (driven by our tournament chairman) decided to rent a drone for the Ross & Smith Invitational, one of our two annual big member-guest events that attracts 256 players. We did it for one main reason: to further improve, differentiate and continue to make our event unique. As the video shows, we flew it all over the course during the tournament and got a great reaction. For probably 99 percent of the participants, it was their first time seeing a drone in action, and it helped to capture the essence and feel of the event. The cost was $1,500 for both the filming and the video editing, and the film was posted on YouTube within 48 hours of the tournament’s conclusion.

The business impact is unquantifiable but undeniable. The drone was a big hit, with players waiving at it, playing to the camera, and excited to see the tournament and course from a different perspective. In addition, the quick turnaround time helped to continue the tournament’s momentum, compared to if it was finished weeks or months later. This year we’re planning to use it at both of our member-guest events in addition to using it to film a course tour that we’ll put on our website for marketing purposes. We also offered the drone as an option for all our outings this year, and so far two have chosen to talk directly to the videographer about using his services. And while we incorporated the drone as part of our budget, you can easily pay for the use by adding it into your entry fee, especially if the size of your outing means a nominal fee increase. And although we did not go this route, you can also have the option to upcharge for the drone footage in outings. The drone served as part of our motto to always keep improving, and we’re excited to see where it takes us next.

If you would like to email the author of this Best Practice directly, please email jsmith@philacricket.com

Editor’s note: The above comments reflect the opinion and experiences of the submitting PGA Professional and are not endorsed by PGA Magazine or the PGA of America.