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Drone Delivery Now Available at Michael Jordan’s Exclusive New Golf Course

BY Zacc Dukowitz
16 December 2020

If you’re playing a round of golf at Michael Jordan’s new golf course and get thirsty, you can order a soda or beer and it will be delivered to you by drone.

These drones take the place of the traditional cart person who drives out to deliver snacks and beverages to golfers.

In addition to beverages, food is also available for drone delivery, as shown in the video below, which was shot by former tennis pro Caroline Wozniacki.

Jordan’s new golf course is called The Grove XXIII—the Roman numerals for 23, which was Jordan’s number during his legendary career as a professional basketball player with the Chicago Bulls. (He also had the number 45 for a brief period of time.)

The course is located in South Florida and it was opened by Jordan in 2019.

Drone delivery was apparently just implemented there in the last few weeks, and was put in place both to address social distancing concerns and because, well, it’s just cool.

All the Conveniences at The Grove XXIII

Since opening, the Grove XXIII has become famous for a number of conveniences, drone delivery being just one of them.

Golf carts on the course are souped-up and can hit 35 mph, and caddies use mini-bikes (basically fast scooters) to get around, and to keep up with the golf carts. The course also features a 15,000 square-foot clubhouse with a pro shop, dining area, locker rooms for both men and women, and lounge areas.

The Clubhouse at The Grove XXIII

Jordan reportedly opened the golf course because he’d grown tired of the rules and stuffy culture at another South Florida golf course, the Medalist Golf Club in Jupiter, FL. Instead of working to change that course, he decided to start his own.

Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that we’ll ever get to play at Michael Jordan’s new golf course. You have to receive an invite to get in, and current membership is reportedly at less than 100 people.

Regulatory Permissions for Jordan’s Drone Delivery Service

Wondering how Michael Jordan got permission to conduct drone delivery on his golf course?

Given that he doesn’t seem to be partnered with Flight Forward, Wing Aviation, or Amazon Prime—the only three drone companies in the U.S. with Part 135 certificates to conduct drone delivery—our guess is that the deliveries are being performed within the drone pilot’s visual line of sight (VLOS).

[Related reading: Amazon Prime Air Becomes Third Drone Delivery Company in the U.S., No Plans Shared Yet on When It Will Launch]

While flying in ways that are prohibited by the FAA’s Part 107 rules in order to conduct drone deliveries, like BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line of Sight) or over people, does require a Part 135, you may conduct drone deliveries without any special permission from the FAA if you keep the drone within your line of sight.

A lot of people don’t know this, and VLOS drone delivery wasn’t discussed much prior to the advent of COVID-19.

And there’s a good reason for that. The VLOS requirement makes the delivery process untenable for large delivery companies, relegating it to the status of neat party trick instead of scalable delivery solution.

But with the new demands of social distancing, the ability to make contactless deliveries at short distances has taken on a lot more interest.

And the FAA has confirmed that pilots don’t need special permission to do VLOS drone delivery.

In fact, when the pandemic first spiked back in March and drone companies were trying to push the FAA to fast-track more Part 135 approvals so they could help, the FAA stated that they believed most of the assistance needed from drones to fight the pandemic was available under the Part 107 rules, with no additional permissions required.

Drone delivery company Flytrex also has a delivery program in place at a golf course in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Although we haven’t found official confirmation, that program seems to be conducted VLOS as well.

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