QMT Features: July 2007
Golf lesson for metrologists
Turning putting into a measurement science - or how to improve a golfer's putting game with a FARO Laser Scanner

Every avid golfer looks for ways to improve his game. The Stracka Design Company, located in Houston, Texas, USA, wanted to develop technology that would display the topography details of golf putting greens. By looking at the contour lines (smooth lines that give you elevation changes on the green), with each line representing a one-inch change in elevation, a golfer would be able to estimate how much his putts would break.

The company was using 3-D scanning technology to assist them in developing a book called, “The Stracka Line” and an interactive version for use online or in a handheld device called “The Stracka Line Live"”. They had a time-of-flight 3-D scanner, but they were finding that taking the scans was very time consuming and that the meshing of the surface data was less accurate than what this project required.

The Stracka Design Company realised that they needed a 3-D scanner that would better fit their needs. They contacted FARO Technologies and purchased a Laser Scanner LS: a phase-shift 3-D scanner. This technology allows the scans to take place at a much higher rate (120,000 points per second – up to 100 times faster than most time-of-flight scanners) and provides high-accuracy data.

The LS’ ease of use and portability were also benefits of changing systems. With no PC needed to perform a scan, it became much easier to transport the FARO Scanner from green to green, while its 40GB hard drive allowed them to store several scans at a time.

To obtain the scan data, they set up the LS at the highest vantage point of the putting green, took a scan, and then moved on to the other greens of the course. The golf green data was then analysed and imported into Polyworks, where a mesh was created and imported into AutoCAD where they performed a liquid flow analysis to calculate the precise fall lines.

“The LS allows us to collect a large number of points and gives us enough data to create a quality product,” comments Jim Stracka, President and CEO of The Stracka Design Company.

The millions of data points obtained from the LS have allowed them to develop The Stracka Line and The Stracka Line Live to help a golfer predict the line of the putt with accuracy to within a few millimetres. The line will tell a golfer if the putt is uphill, downhill, moving left or moving right.

With the time-of-flight scanner, scans took 45 minutes to complete, while the FARO Laser Scanner LS can scan in about 5-10 minutes. The unit itself was also 20% less expensive than the competitive time-of-flight and other phase-shift scanners. The LS has proven easy to use, and provides quality, high-density point clouds that are perfect for this application. l


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