18 Jul

PGA Tour Partners With Microsoft for Engagement and Advanced Analytics

Golf is a simple game that has become one of the most popular spectator sports in the world. The PGA Tour organizes most of the professional golf tournaments in North America and is driving a wave of innovation to improve the experience for millions of viewers around the world.

In 2016 alone, PGA has organized over 100 events. In the United States, the company has broadcast agreements in place with CBS Sports, NBC Sports and the Golf Channel, and for international broadcasts, it works with Sky. As the company grows, it must keep innovating to keep its viewers engaged. As a result, PGA has signed a three-year deal with Microsoft to build mobile apps. These will aggregate player scores and track the path of the ball. This data will be used on websites, broadcasts and scoreboards. In addition, PGA has made a firm commitment to Microsoft Azure Cloud and the full suite of Office 365 applications throughout the entire organization.


How It Enhances the Viewer Experience

What’s most important to PGA Tour CIO Steve Evans is that a single API can be customized to enhance the immersive viewing experience for fans. He explains that viewers want to see everything in real time, from the drive to the putt. They also want to compare tournaments. He claims, “Technology plays a key role in making that a reality across any digital device.”


Cloud Apps and Software That Make It All Work

PGA Tour is heavily reliant on an army of over 300 volunteers who walk the fairways alongside the players during a tournament. These volunteers provide first-hand information on scores, flight paths, conditions, distances of shots, angles to the pin and more. This is all data that fans and commentators gobble up. So how do they deliver this data?

Volunteers are equipped with Microsoft Lumia 950 phones or Surface Tablets, both of which run custom-built apps on the Windows 10 platform. The Walking Scorer app runs on Microsoft’s Lumia, which is a user friendly and familiar device. The app tracks and manages player and course info and sends stats to PGA staff. The Laser Operator app aggregates data from laser sensors on the courses. Instead of running on the Lumia, the Grid View app works on Surface Pro 4 devices and is used to manually input ball position just in case the laser’s view is blocked.

To streamline operations over the coming years, PGA is also investing heavily in moving its employees from legacy systems to Office 365, a cloud-based application that includes collaboration and productivity tools alongside more conventional office products. To migrate an entire organization to the Microsoft cloud is a bold philosophy and is set to pay large dividends for both Microsoft and PGA over the coming years.

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