Masters 2019 – Golf and Data

Masters 2019 – Golf and Data

This week saw the start of the Masters Tournament at Augusta National, a highlight for me being both a golfer and a sports fan. The media swell for this tournament is well underway and many of the world’s top players feature in interviews, particularly being asked about their preparation for attacking the iconic Augusta National.

Much has been said about players using virtual reality to prepare for tournaments; Jordan Spieth did much of his preparation for playing the Old Course, St Andrews, using a golf simulator in his house!

The enormous tank of sports data doesn’t just improve the preparation and perhaps the performance of players, but seriously contributes to the enjoyment of armchair golf. As I watch tee shots on the heavily-patented TV Trackman golf tracer, it tracks Rory’s ball on its way to an enviable 320 yard placing on the fairway; a 3D image of the undulating green rises up from my TV screen to ensure I fully appreciate the difficulty of Sergio’s approach shot; and the commentators are able to describe, with such detail, how each putt will break as it makes its way to the hole. NextVR is apparently offering live coverage VR for each Masters’ round and if that wasn’t enough, they even provide the “make percentage” on each putt.

This is data! A valuable and often overlooked, IP asset. It is not just golf that utilises data to improve the spectators’ experience. Football, Basketball, Soccer (yes, 6 months resident in the USA and I have adopted the terminology!) all use data, collated over hundreds of games and tournaments to provide us with genuine insight into the plays and tactics that teams are adopting – who remembers MoneyBall? Many coaches no doubt rely on similar data to study opponents and prepare for games.

Access to this critical IP has improved the experience of the armchair spectator but I would venture that this additional layer of analysis and preparation may actually improve athletes’ performance, helping them to maximise their value to the game.
Data and data analytics can provide the owner/developer with easy access to revenue streams, under licence agreements. Data can be created at a relatively low cost and once created can apply across numerous sectors. It is an IP asset that is flexible, transferable and definitely here to stay.

Now back to my Masters prep…..which chair guarantees a perfect view of the flatscreen?

Stephen Robertson