Whether you like golf not, the technology packed into the Masters.com website this year is impressive.
IBM, the official technology partner of the Masters, developed an array of nifty tools to help bring fans closer to the action at this weekend’s major tournament in Augusta, Ga.
Masters.com — and the accompanying mobile apps — offers a number of unique features certainly not found on your typical golf tournament website, or let alone any sporting event online hub. You’ll notice this immediately at the homepage, which is extremely visual and offers an infinite scroll of widgets that update in real-time depending on what’s happening on the course. Each widget links to news stories, live streams, photos, videos, infographics, leaderboards, and more.
John Kent, Program Manager of Worldwide Sponsorship Marketing for IBM, told GeekWire that IBM — which has partnered with Augusta National Golf Club since the 90s — focused on keeping the website and apps simple and clean. That was part of the vision shared by Augusta National Chairman Billy Payne, who wanted IBM to build a digital platform that carried forward the aura of The Masters.
“He wanted us to create a delightful experience that showcased the beauty and tradition of The Masters,” Kent said from Augusta on Thursday. “There’s a lot of genuine excitement here, and we wanted to create that on the digital platforms.”
Perhaps the most badass part of the website is IBM’s new “Track” feature, which utilizes lasers set up on each fairway and green at Augusta that track the position of a player’s ball. That data is funneled into an aerial map of each hole that lets viewers see how a given player navigated his way around the course.
The website also has eight channels of live streaming HD video that offer crisp picture and little-to-no lag. Kent explained that this is made possible by using multiple data centers and IBM’s cloud platform, which incorporates predictive analytics that take into account traffic data from previous tournaments and social media chatter about a given player. Kent called it “continuous operations.”
“Our cloud technology allows us to scale up or scale down when we need it,” he said.
There are a bevy of other neat features, like individual pages for each golfer that offer scorecards, scoring summaries, detailed stats, historical data, and videos of a given player.
To help users get a sense of the actual course, there’s a dedicated page for each of the 18 holes that includes information like how the hole was designed, cumulative stats, aerial flyover videos, and a 360-degree view that lets users click-and-drag for perspectives from the tee box, fairway, and green.
IBM is certainly no stranger to inking sponsorship deals in the sports world, dating all the way back to the 1962 Olympics. But Kent noted how advances in cloud computing and analytics has allowed the company to develop technology that gives fans a better idea of what’s happening on the ground.
“This gives us an opportunity to showcase our capabilities in front of the world,” Kent said.