Golf comes in many variations. There’s disc golf, mini golf, frolf, and, of course, the standard version of the sport that tasks players with hitting balls into tiny holes across long distances. Now, you can add another type of golf to the list: drone golf played by guiding UAVs to a far-off target.
Turkish Airlines held its first Drone Golf Championship on Wednesday. The game tasked professional golfers Danny Willett, Lee Westwood, and Andrew Johnston with piloting drones to the Carya Golf Club’s 16th tee. Once there, they had to drop a ball inside circles surrounding the tee.
Westwood emerged victorious as he dropped his golf ball in the closest circle to the tee. The others didn’t fare nearly as well: Neither Johnston nor Willet managed to pilot their drones anywhere near their target. You can watch Turkish Airlines’s video of the Drone Golf Championship here:
Drones have previously had a much less direct relationship to sports. The NFL pushed to be able to use drones to record its games, but the Federal Aviation Administration only allows them to fly over empty stadiums.
The FAA’s aversion to using drones at large sporting events was then reaffirmed during the Super Bowl, when the agency grounded all drones in a 32-mile radius and declared the stadium a “no drone zone” so it could ensure the crowd’s safety.
All of this means drone sports are unlikely to attract crowds under the current regulatory climate. But that doesn’t mean Turkish Airlines can’t try to get the attention of a new crowd to the Turkish Airlines Open, a far more serious tournament dedicated to real golf, by asking a trio of professional golfers to fly a bunch of drones around for a few minutes.
Let’s just hope the second Drone Golf Championship is a closer match.