For those that don't know me through the various golf forums or social media sites I frequent, I also work for SkyCaddie as a course mapper and I look after the Midlands & Central England area, covering the B, CV, DY, LE, NN, ST, WS & WV postcodes, and believe me, there's a lot of golf courses within those areas!
A glamorous job I hear you say, well not exactly, yes I get to walk around some great golf courses in my area and see some real hidden gems tucked away, but unfortunately you don't get the time to play them as you need to update the changes they've made and move on to the next golf course in that area, but you do get to take note of those courses and hopefully arrange to return and play them, and to be honest, there's been a good few just lately and some right on my doorstep that I hadn't really come across before.
Being a SkyCaddie Ambassador isn't a full time position, although throughout the year I keep in touch with all the golf clubs throughout my area by following them through social media sites, reading their own club websites along with email subscriptions and around this time of the year I will telephone my contacts for course updates as I'm always on the lookout for changes that clubs are making or proposing to make to their course, and dependent on when they make and complete those changes will depend on how quickly I can update them by walking their course, as only we do!
Most golf clubs will have a winter programme of changes for their course, so my busiest time as a ground mapper will be between January & April, this is where the glamour side of being a SkyCaddie mapper is found wanting, I will be out in all weathers during this period, I will be walking and mapping changes in pouring rain, freezing cold icy conditions and even snow, as long as it's not too deep!
Personally I like to have all the updates that I am aware of for my area completed by the end of March so every player using a SkyCaddie GPS will hopefully have a fully updated device with all the changes not only for their own course, but all the courses across the country updated which we have been made aware of, these could be courses they are visiting as a club team player, a local society outing or even golfing holiday, either way, our team of UK mappers will endeavour to have all golf course changes completed by May so you can all enjoy your golfing season with a GPS device that we keep upto date ourselves without the reliance or dependency of any third party which will only use aerial imagery!
As a golfer (loose term), when I'm walking and mapping a golf course and I come to a new hazard, lets say a bunker that now has a fairway run-off of 6 yards into it and a large mound immediately after it, I will mark the hazard where a ball can come to rest before rolling into the bunker and I will also mark the carry distance so the ball cannot roll back into the hazard, this is something aerial imagery cannot define from the sky, it will only see and measure, as best it can, the actual outline of the bunker, this in my opinion is where SkyCaddie and it's team of mappers really sets itself apart from all the other providers, what's the use of knowing that a stream is 175 yards away if the banks of it and fairway rolls into it at 160 yards and needs a carry of 195 yards even though it's only 10 yards wide!
Ground mapping is essential if you want and demand accuracy, that is something only a SkyCaddie mapper like myself can deliver for SkyCaddie members, no other GPS brand can boast the same!
Anyway, I don't want this to turn into a sales pitch, that's not my objective or position, but I will say I get a great deal of satisfaction from knowing whatever measurement I see on my device on any course I'm playing, and I play all over the country in opens and forum meets, I know it will be accurate and up to date and I can take my next shot with total confidence, I'll probably duff it 50 yards but that's another story for later.
I will announce in a few months all the golf courses I have already updated (walked) for 2016 and I will highlight any that I think are standout courses and worth a look at, this time last year I updated Longcliffe Golf Course in Leicestershire and I promised myself I would go back and play it in the summer, unfortunately due to injury and missing most of the golfing season I didn't get to do that, but I must say I was very impressed with the course, it had some lovely holes and was very well presented, so that course will be added to any more I come across this term to play later in the year.
So, when you see a lonely figure walking around your course with a satellite protruding from his backpack in horrendous weather or in the remote chance it's a nice sunny day, don't panic, we're not looking to build houses, although it does get a few members biting when we say that, it will just be me or one of my fellow SkyCaddie ground mappers updating your course, please pop over and say hello, or better still, a nice hot drink when I get in is always well received.
If your club has made or is planning on any changes to it's course, then please let me know, thank you.
Edit: 5th February 2016, unfortunately I have now resigned my position at SkyCaddie for personal reasons.