USGA Enhances US Open Digital Fan Experience

Thomas J. O'Toole. Picture by John Mummert/USGA Headshot
Thomas J. O’Toole. Picture by John Mummert/USGA

Far Hills, New Jersey, United States: A series of new technology and communications tools will be introduced at this month’s US Open Championship to enhance the overall fan viewing experience.

Thomas J. O’Toole Jr, President of the United States Golf Association [USGA], said: “The USGA has committed significant resources toward technology organisation-wide. The focus on data not only supports our commitment to conduct an exemplary championship, but also makes it fun to watch, no matter where you are.”

Among many assets, the USGA has significantly invested in its official US Open mobile application, to be released next Friday [June 12], with support from IBM. Live video, an enhanced leaderboard and mapping features will be integrated into the experience, to the benefit of fans who embrace the second screen.

“We’re helping bring golf fans around the world closer to the US Open Championship through a combination of innovative technologies designed to showcase the action and excitement on the course,” said Noah Syken, Vice President of Global Sponsorships and Client Programs for IBM, the USGA’s technology partner for the past seven years.

“The immersive US Open digital experience, powered by IBM’s Cloud Computing, will enable fans to follow the championship live on the Web or their mobile device and feel as though they are at Chambers Bay watching their favourite player compete.”
Among the inside-the-gates enhancements, fans using approved mobile devices will be encouraged to download the official US Open mobile app prior to entering the championship grounds, and connect to complimentary Wi-Fi by choosing ‘USGA WiFi’ upon arrival at Chambers Bay.
The robust app, available through iTunes, Google Play and the Android App Store, will provide a player locator, enabling fans to target the hole and position of their favourite golfer in real time and plan their on-course experience. The leaderboard – one of the programme’s most popular features – will include live scoring, player highlights and statistics.
An interactive map will assist spectators in navigating the course on-site, as well as locating designated championship Wi-Fi zones, grandstands, concessions, merchandise, restrooms and first-aid tents. ‘The Latest’ navigation link will provide highlights and social media feeds.
In addition, more than 150 volunteers will operate USGA-owned high-degree laser equipment at Chambers Bay, collecting thousands of ball-position data points on fairways and greens. The information will be fed to screens throughout the championship site, including hundreds of digital monitors and new electronic scoreboards.
The 12 on-course boards and a ‘monster’ board at the 18th green will provide a steady stream of performance data, enhanced player statistics and video feeds throughout the course. Fans will be treated to highlights between live groups, including ‘What just happened?’ moments throughout the day’s play.
While video streaming from mobile devices is strictly prohibited at Chambers Bay, fans can take photos during practice rounds, and receive email and texts throughout the course.
Meanwhile, for the first time, usopen.com and the US Open mobile and tablet apps will offer three channels of live streaming coverage, including daily featured groups, coverage of holes 12 and 15, and ‘US Open 360’.
The last includes exclusive inside-the-ropes and behind-the-scenes video, which will complement the traditional Fox Sports television broadcast fed to nearly 180 countries.

The US Open digital platform will also provide news, photos and videos, as well as the opportunity for fans to compete in the Virtual US Open, a realistic simulation of Chambers Bay produced by World Golf Tour.

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