UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. — The PGA Tour does not like reporters using Periscope on the golf course, and Stephanie Wei found that out the hard way.
Wei, a former collegiate golfer who runs the popular Wei Under Par blog, had her PGA Tour credentials revoked last month for the rest of this season after she used Periscope to live-stream golfers during a practice round at the WGC-Cadillac Match Play Championship.
The PGA Tour told Wei that she violated the organization’s media policy, which prevents reporters from live-streaming any action on the course. PGA Tour Chief Marketing Officer Ty Votaw told Golf.com reporter Alan Shipnuck that Wei was “stealing” when posting “unauthorized videos.”
”Who owns those rights? We do, not you,” Votaw told Golf.com. “If you want access to those rights, you have to pay for it.”
Wei, who also received a warning from the PGA Tour for using Instagram to share a video of Tiger Woods at the Phoenix Open earlier this year, is at Chambers Bay this week for the U.S. Open.
Even though the major tournament is not run by the PGA Tour — the USGA is in charge, hence why Wei was able to get credentials — don’t expect her to be Periscope-ing any golf.
“I checked with the USGA about whether or not I could use Periscope and they said no,” she told GeekWire. “I think that’s unfortunate.”
When Twitter-owned Periscope launched earlier this year, countless questions arose in regard to whether or not sports reporters and fans were allowed to live-stream games, practices, and/or interviews. We explored the issue in April and found that most big leagues are generally against the app due to the exclusive, lucrative TV broadcast rights already in place with big networks.
But Wei, a Seattle native and Yale University graduate, thinks that technology like Periscope can help generate more attention for golf, particularly during practice rounds that aren’t broadcast on TV.
“I don’t think it hurts the rights holders,” she said. “I think it only helps promote the tournament, especially if it’s just during a practice round leading up to the tournament. It only promotes the Tour and the brand.”
Wei noted that she when she traveled to Europe earlier this year for the Irish Open, she used Periscope to live-stream an entire practice round with a player.
“That definitely drove people to watch the Irish Open,” Wei said. “It was such a gorgeous course and it was interesting to interact with the player and take questions from people watching.”
She added that Periscope-ing live action is like offering the PGA Tour free promotion while enhancing the fan viewing experience. Wei recalled that when Twitter first debuted, the PGA Tour wouldn’t let reporters live tweet from the golf course. She said there’s similar fear from Tour executives about Periscope.
“That was the most ridiculous thing,” Wei said of the Twitter ban. “We are promoting your event. It’s part of our job and you don’t have to pay us to do it.”
Wei’s suspension is all the more interesting given that the PGA Tour is now having its own staffers use Periscope after revoking Wei’s credentials for doing the same thing. Golfers themselves are also using the app on the course, too. For example, Bubba Watson gave fans an inside-the-ropes glimpse of his Tuesday practice round.
— bubba watson (@bubbawatson) June 16, 2015
“I’ve been told the Tour is always talking about millennials,” Wei said. “It’s just kind of ironic because I’m a millennial and one of very few in the press room. I think I have a better grasp of knowing how to engage with millennials — I’m not trying to sound arrogant, but I can relate to them. I think the same way, and I was obviously onto something when I started Periscope-ing.”
Wei, 32, added that she didn’t use Periscope to “defy the rules.”
“It was just second nature for someone our age to be like, ‘oh, there’s a new app, let’s try it out,'” she said.
Wei thinks “it will take some time” before the Tour changes its stance on live-streaming, but she hopes it happens sooner rather than later.
“Golf has a reputation of being behind the times a little bit,” she said. “I hope they can see past that and realize that it’s something they should embrace.”