Tech

Ryder Cup on the course with technical overhaul

This week’s Ryder Cup organizers are bound by tradition, devoted to multi-year technology reviews to provide real-time golf scores and statistics, live spectators and course maps, and other data services. It brings a high degree of analysis to sports.

Prior to the three-day tournament that began Friday at the Whistling Straits Golf Club in Wisconsin, PGA of America technical staff will provide physical and other underlying technical systems for connectivity, Wi-Fi and other underlying technical systems. I started to set up a digital device. Sites with over 450 Wi-Fi access points and 650 Internet Protocol TVs.

“When we host a major championship, we build a small town to support it,” said Kevin Scott, Group’s chief technology officer. “No one thought golf had so much technology, but because the camera is aimed at the player, there are many things you can’t see on TV,” he added.

Scott said the event’s technology backbone, combined with the new cloud-based information technology system, is more reliable and offers a wider range of user services than ever before. The tournament, which competes European and American players, is expected to attract more than 40,000 spectators daily.

Scott joined Palm Beach Gardens, Florida as the first technology chief about four years ago and was responsible for upgrading aging technology, which he described as a “very traditional IT organization.”

In addition to the Ryder Cup, the PGA of America hosts several professional championships each year for men’s, women’s and senior tours. But its broader mission, among other initiatives, is to promote golf games at the grassroots level by connecting amateur players with the golf pros and coaches of approximately 28,000 members of clubs nationwide.

Scott says his main role is to provide access to the digital tools and services that members need to do their jobs, from administrative tasks to introducing emerging new golfers to the game. increase.

One of his first moves was to abolish the legacy network of the group itself and replace it with a browser-based system secured by multi-factor authentication security. “When I started, half of the team had the word’network’in the title,” Scott said. Instead, he took a more customer-centric approach to IT and refocused on creating apps and services tailored to the specific needs of users.

Over the last four years, he has migrated all of his organization’s IT systems from his own data center to a third-party cloud service. This move adds the ability to expand computing power as needed, providing both off-the-shelf and customizable software for more advanced features such as powerful search engines and artificial intelligence models. I did. “The cloud is safer and faster, and things never go down,” Scott said.

To avoid fierce competition for technicians, Scott used a skill-specific freelancer using Upwork, an online platform that matches freelance workers and employers. “To achieve the championship, we decided to build a team that could go and work in the field, including freelance developers and engineers,” he said. This strategy helped get the new initiative on track and complete faster, while cutting average costs in half.

Norwegian Viktor Hovland will play shots on Friday at Whistling Straits.


Photo:

Stacy Libya / Getty Images

One of the recent projects was to build a dynamic online job board for golf professionals. The other was to develop an online search tool that would allow golfers to find coaches in their area.

There are signs that these and other efforts are working. Less influenced by Covid-19 than many indoor sports, the game has skyrocketed in popularity. According to the National Golf Foundation, US golfers played the most 502 million rounds since 2007 last year. According to industry groups, the number of non-golfers interested in playing has increased by 1.5 million from 2019 to 17 million.

The use of digital technology is also increasing. This year, for the first time, the PGA of America will enable players to use distance measurement devices in three major tournaments. A device that some golf purists disagree with is used to determine the exact distance to the hole.

Many clubs and courses are now equipped with GPS devices that track golfers’ movements across the ground, helping course operators identify areas of slow play and eliminate obstacles that cause backup. I’m using data. More players, including professionals, veteran amateurs and beginners, are using sensors and data analysis to find swing glitches and improve the game.

For the Ryder Cup, Scott’s team created a live spectator app. This helps users navigate the Whistling Straits course, up-to-date parking information, restaurant and souvenir shop information, and provides other features such as digital scorecards. Utilize the data from the scanner. Cameras, mobile devices, faster computer speeds.

“You can see in real time how the crowd is moving around,” Scott said. “We even have a camera on the concession line.”

Write to Angus Roten (angus.loten@wsj.com)

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Ryder Cup on the course with technical overhaul

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