The ShotLink System is a revolutionary platform for collecting and disseminating scoring and statistical data on every shot by every player in real-time. The vision of the system is to "Turn data into information, information into knowledge, and knowledge into entertainment."


August 2007 USA Today Article explaining ShotLink


HISTORY:

The TOUR implemented its first electronic scoreboard system in 1983. This initial program provided 19 electronic scoreboards on-site at each PGA TOUR event. The system was supported by a proprietary data collection device and two mini-computers.

The scoreboard system was upgraded in 1987 to use a wireless device for data collection and an official record keeping system was introduced at the tournament site to record the scoring for historical purposes.

In 1992 IBM became the official technology partner of the PGA TOUR and provided a complete scoring system. This system leveraged the data collection capabilities of the scoreboard system and provided inquiry and analysis computers in 60 locations including hospitality, media, and broadcast locations. The IBM Scoring System also provided an automated interface to the broadcasters’ graphics equipment.

In 1998 IBM renewed its partnership as the World Wide Technology Partner of the PGA TOUR.
In 1999 an analysis of the scoring system was conducted to determine a strategy for the future. The analysis concluded that the existing system should be replaced by a more capable and sophisticated system. This system would become known as ShotLink.

Deficiencies of the previous system included:
a. An ineffective process for data collection – data was recorded on paper by walking scorers and then keyed at the end of each hole by a green side operator. This contributed to errors and a less than timely operation.
b. The technology supporting the system was outdated and needed to be replaced.
c. The operation was not capable of supporting the collection of additional data.

HOW DOES SHOTLINK WORK?


Each golf course is mapped prior to the event so a digital image of each hole is used as background information in order to calculate exact distances between any two coordinates (e.g. tee box and the player’s first shot or the shot location and the location of the hole).

The ShotLink system is operated by a small staff of PGA TOUR employees and a volunteer workforce each week. It normally takes approximately 250 volunteers per event to score the golf tournament. This equates to approximately three man years of effort (between staff and volunteers). The annual ShotLink volunteer count on the PGA TOUR is approximately 10,000!

The volunteers perform two functions - Walking Scorer and Laser Operator. Walking Scorers collect attributes of each shot (Location - Tee, Fairway, etc. Lie - Good / Bad, Stance, Time of shot). The Laser operators use survey grade equipment to locate each golf ball and assign its exact location (coordinates). The accuracy of the Greenside Lasers is +/- 1cm.

HOW IS SHOTLINK USED?

The ShotLink system operates on the PGA TOUR, Champions TOUR, and Nationwide Tour (approximately 102 events each year).

ShotLink provides data to various sources: television broadcasters, PGATOUR.COM, international broadcasters, studio shows (SportsCenter, PGA TOUR Sunday, Golf Central), print media, mobile devices (available on PGATOUR.COM), on-site partners providing fan enhancements, and other clients of the TOUR.

The broadcast partners have embraced the system and the new data it makes available. In 2003, 600 executions hit the air that would not otherwise have been possible.

In late 2003 and early 2004, several new implementations of ShotLink visualization were introduced. Partnering with the broadcasters and production enhancement companies, the TOUR and its broadcast partners have been able to leverage the ShotLink system in several ways:
1. SportVision / ABC introduced the FedEx Reliability Zone - video insertion from fixed cameras identifying zones of opportunity on the golf course.
2. PVI / CBS introduced Eagle Eye - video insertion from the Blimp camera.
3. Virtual Spectator/ The Golf Channel enhanced GolfVision by including ShotLink data into its three-dimensional broadcast animation product.
4. PGA TOUR Productions began to produce animated images of the golf course that could accept live data being plotted into the image to better explain what happened on the golf course (PGA TOUR Productions supports each broadcast partner). Executions have been used effectively by ESPN and USA Network.

Sports Business Daily named ShotLink one of the top 10 enhancements to the broadcast in the past 10 years.

In 2005 TOURCast, powered by ShotLink won an Emmy Award ...


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