In a statement, the PGA Tour said: "PGA Tour AR puts augmented reality golf experiences into the hands of hundreds of millions of iPhone and iPad users, allowing fans to interact with 3D featured holes and live 3D shot trails on any flat surface right in front of them. On featured holes throughout the season, fans will be able to select their favorite player on the golf course, compare shot trails from each round and compare the shots of different players."
The PGA Tour has plans to add more holes from other tournaments leading up to the Tour Championship and ultimately plans to feature at least one hole at every tournament on the PGA Tour schedule.
Mastercard was named an official launch partner for the app, which will feature exclusive branding within the AR app and will showcase the app in fan areas at Bay Hill Club.
“We are thrilled to partner with the PGA Tour in bringing live AR to fans this week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational,” said Raja Rajamannar, chief marketing and communications officer for Mastercard. “Mastercard shares a common bond with the PGA Tour that revolves around innovation, and this technology aligns with our promise to our cardholders to provide Priceless experiences. We are excited about continued conversations on how the PGA Tour’s AR app will rollout new enhancements and provide consumers from around the world a new way to engage with the game of golf.”
An update to the PGA Tour AR app later this year is slated to feature an on-course AR experience, where fans at a golf tournament can hold up their device in front of any hole and the technology will display shot trails for selected players live or during a past round of the user’s choosing.
“Exploring unparalleled technologies like AR helps the PGA Tour reach new audiences around the world,” said Rick Anderson, PGA Tour's chief media officer. “Tapping into ARKit in iOS 11 allows us to showcase real-time data provided by ShotLink and CDW in a rich, visual way for fans. The PGA Tour takes pride in bringing new technology to the sports world as a way of communicating to a large, diverse audience.”
The golf association first considered the idea during an internal employee hackathon, where Devon Fox, director of digital platform innovation said: “The winning idea was an AR app concept that included an integration with our ShotLink powered by CDW data and features like way finding. We knew then that we needed to experiment with AR. The first few prototypes we built worked but needed a lot of refinement. ARKit and ARCore coming out this past year certainly helped us as we explored AR.”
The resulting app experience was made in collaboration with Possible Mobile, part of the creative agency Possible, and aided by existing data gathered by ShotLink powered by CDW, the Tour’s longstanding state-of-the-art scoring system. ShotLink through CDW technology has captured and reported real-time information on every shot, by every player, during tournament competition.
“This app empowers us to creatively display and share data captured by ShotLink and CDW with fans in an entirely new way,” Fox added. “Utilizing the biggest AR platform in the world, we can instantly reach millions of new golf fans around the world in an exciting and fun style.”
The Tour has also considered several enhancements within the PGA Tour AR app for fans who attend tournaments to help them locate their favorite venues, merchandise locations and concession stands, or finding their favorite player on the course. These advancements, it said, “will give the Tour and its partners opportunity to develop creative ways to interact with fans to form a more enjoyable on course experience."
As the technology progresses, the Tour said it expects to work with sponsors to "display their brands within the app in innovative ways.” Possible enhancements considered: custom AR experiences such as displaying branded venues on each hole, video boards that show highlights from the event, and the opportunity for fans to take full 360 views of promoted products.
“New technologies are exciting, but only if they can add a new and valuable dimension to an experience,” said Ben Reubenstein, chief executive officer, Possible Mobile. “It’s not a matter of if AR will become a part of our daily experiences, but when. The hardware will get smaller, less intrusive, and truly will change the way in which we see the world. These types of explorations going to market will provide valuable insights into perfecting the production pipeline and expertise to evolve with the technology. Golf is a perfect fit for leveraging augmented reality by providing a cutting-edge way for fans to interact with the sport.”
Live AR coverage on PGA Tour AR will begin in conjunction with the opening round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard on Thursday, March 15. The PGA Tour AR app is available for free exclusively in the App Store.