Tag Archive | "Golf"

Interview: How the Open Championship is utilising iBeacons, Wi-Fi and storytelling

Tomorrow sees this year’s Open Golf Championship take place at Royal Liverpool. Starting on Thursday it sees the world’s top golfers, including Tiger Woods after a lengthly absence through injury, come to our shores for one of the most testing events on the golfing calendar.

Golf has been a sport that has embraced digital advances over the past few years, at the top end at least. You can find most players on Twitter (more so than Facebook) and each major event looks to engage with the thousands of fans who come through the gates, as well as the millions who tune in on TV.

Kevin Bain is the R&A’s Digital Manager who is based most of the time in the beautiful town of St. Andrews (the home my family originates from). Last week I was delighted that Kevin could take some time out of his hectic diary to speak to me about what their plans are for this years event.


One of the biggest investments that was trialled last year and is now being expanded upon is the installation of wifi points around the course. 350 access points have now been installed giving Wi-Fi coverage on every grandstand.

The test took place at Muirfield where the whole course had fibre optic cable installed with 200 access points. It was promoted in venue and allowed for video streaming as well as scoring and other information. It was 30k people use the facility with a peak of 3.5k concurrent users.

One of the most interesting findings was around usage – they expected video streaming to be the key driver but it turned out that GPS tracking of players on the course was the most used feature, showing who was teeing off from where and what their current score was.

iBeacons are another development which has been trialled in a small way before and are now being tested on a larger scale. In the US they are being utilised around many sports stadiums and they are proving to be a useful way in which to communicate with people around the course.

There will be a welcome message at the pay gate at the course and one of the incentives is being entered into a prize draw for tickets for next years Open. Certainly one that many keen golf fans attending will be open to. Also, at the 3rd hole there will trial messaging informing fans about which players are coming through. Something useful that will help them decide at which point they want to be to see they’re favourite players.

Social Media

#OpenMoments was launched one week out from the tournament. They started asking fans about what their favourite Open moments are and they will then use they’re archive of images and video’s to show fans those that have been most mentioned. More than 100 videos were ready to go when they launched.

They’re also been helping to promote the #OpenCountdown from the host course, Royal Liverpool, with both campaigns aimed at boosting awareness of the event and excitement amongst golf fans.

open moments

They are also working with a company I know well, Storystream. This new social wall will allow fans to see all the conversations in one place from players, fans and official accounts from the organisers. They’re are already some great images and videos available on there. So make sure you check out social.theopen.com 

If you’ve been in the Liverpool are you may well have seen a bus going around with advertising on it for the tournament. To win tickets to go to the golf all fans had to do if they spotted it was to tweet in a picture of it and use the hashtag #OpenBus to win.

There are also the more usual digital features for fans to use such as the Open app to get scores, radio commentary, video stream, etc. Plus you can find out everything you need to know across Facebook and Twitter. This year has seen another Twitter first for the event as they have launched a Japanese language feed. This helps them tap into the 3rd largest golf market in the world, behind the US and UK.

Thanks to Kevin for taking the time out to let us know about their plans. I’m lucky enough to be going this week to find out more about how it looks from behind-the-scenes. Look out for the tweets from @danielmclaren.

2013 open

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Live Blog – The Cornerstone Of The European Tour’s Digital Coverage

It has been almost exactly one year since the European Tour launched their live blog feature.

I was lucky enough to visit the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth in 2013 to see how the production team was set up, get a feel for the event and a glimpse at the deltatre live blog product that had been put in place for them for the first time.

It has now become the cornerstone of their live event coverage, especially for flagship events such as the BMW. It combines a blend of compelling editorial, up to the minute photographs and video clips, social media content, statistics and fan-interaction in one easy-to-digest, visually appealing stream.

Only last month at Digital Sport London we had a panel discussion on the benefits of live blogging platforms for teams, sponsors and federations. It’s something we’re seeing a lot more on media websites, teams such as Sunderland and Man City, and federations including thePremier League, RFU and the European Tour.

So why did the European Tour put their faith in such as product? We spoke with the tour’s website editor Will Pearson. He told us that they had several reasons in mind;

“The modern sports fan has high expectations when it comes to digital coverage of live events; he/she demands ever-more sophisticated and engaging live digital content to act as either a second screen experience while watching the event on television or in isolation, perhaps on the move, on tablets, smart phones, and/or at work etc.

We understand that the live scoring/leaderboard hosted on europeantour.com is undoubtedly the pivotal asset for The European Tour in our digital landscape and the live blog, as an aggregator of content, presents an ideal opportunity to leverage that popularity in order to promote the rich array of material we produce across the site

As well as being a heightened experience for the fans, the ET Live Blog also brings with it the possibility in the future to provide greater commercial value for Tour partners”

It turns out that a mixed media live blog is a good fit for golf and for telling the story of a tournament both inside and outside of the ropes. Bringing about a more compelling narrative that may otherwise have been missed altogether.

Golf, especially during the first couple of tournament days, has much more of a non-linear narrative than other sports with hundreds of balls, thousands of shots and, despite tens of hours of coverage a week on television, there are still many hours left uncovered on traditional channels. The ET Live Blog helps the user pick out the key nuggets of action on the course while providing colour and behind the scenes ‘vignettes’ from around the venue

So does it end there for the European Tour and their digital efforts? It appears not. There are several other initiatives to engage with fans, and not restricted to being just in English. One of the hurdles for an international federation is how you best speak to fans in their native language. In Europe this can be especially complicated but moves are being made to address that.

At the Spanish Open (15-18 May) they will be running their first native-tongue version of the live blog alongside the already established English one. Following this there are plans in place to do the same around two other events this year, the BMW International Open (in German) and the Open de France (in French).

They are also running a new competition on europeantour.com where fans will be able to choose the pin position on the 14th hole for the final round of the BMW PGA Championship. Add to that social media competitions around the star-studded Pro-Am on Wednesday 21st May and the return of their ‘Access All Areas’ video series, hosted on the website and YouTube, delivering a variety of absorbing, entertaining and exclusive content featuring the likes of defending champion Matteo Manassero and former World Long Drive Champion Joe Miller.

The BMW PGA Championship promises to be one of the most digitally active for the European Tour. Their introduction of the Live Blog is providing to be a wise investment and has opened up many more opportunities off the back of it.

And with the Ryder Cup being help in the UK later this year, there will much more to come from the European Tour then as well!


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Social Media Caddies…. WTF?!

During last weekend’s Presidents Cup one thing sprang up that caught our attention.  We know that brands, clubs, federations and even players are live-tweeting from events now as it becomes the ‘must have’ accompaniment to a live sports event.

We’ve seen the research by Twitter and the MLB on the effect of live-tweeting during an event and the growth it can have on followers and the number of retweets/favourites they get.  This is based on content from the teams themselves who have all-access and a passionate follower base.

The Presidents Cup, a golf competition in which the US play against an International team in a similar set up as to the more illustrious Ryder Cup,  took things one step further during the competition.  This year a half-dozen Ohio State University strategic-communication students are working as “social-media caddies” for the duration of the event.

They walked the course with iPads and smartphones taking photos and recording observations for the Presidents Cup Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds. They also quizzed fans on golf trivia and award small prizes to those in the know.  Mirko Mandic, a senior from Akron said “I love it here, except when it rains, it’s great to interact with the fans.”

The volunteer’s at events such as these have long been part of the events, enabling them to take place by helping organisers fill in many of the roles they just don’t have the money or resource to do themselves.  Now it looks like social media has become part of this… but is it a wise decision?  They are great at get spectators from A to B, looking after the amenities and being hosts at the course but would you put them in charge of your social media?

There may well be a CMS element to the software they’re using to ensure that everything is checked before being published (you’d hope so), in which case then it’s a case of gaining as much content as possible and then filtering through it to then push out the best to the appropriate platforms.

An interesting way of stretching resources to fit but hopefully they’ll ditch the ‘Social Media Caddie’ tops next year though.

Social Media Caddies



Posted in Events, Golf, Social MediaComments (0)

Pick the hole location at PGA Champs – competition hosted by Jack Nicklaus

A really nice activation the guys at the PGA of America have launched today.  Ahead of the final major of the year, the US PGA Championship, the golf federation are giving fans the opportunity to actually get involved with the course design!

The position of the pin is critical when it comes to how difficult the holes will play.  So what better way in which to involve fans than to have them choose which position it should be?

The PGA have teamed up with golfing legend Jack Nicklaus to give fans a chance to choose the hole location on the 181-yard, par-3 15th hole for the final round of the PGA Championship, Aug. 8-11, at Oak Hill Country Club. The “PGA Championship Pick the Hole Location Challenge Hosted by Jack Nicklaus” began this morning at pga.com. The contest runs until Aug. 10.

It doesn’t mean that fans can place the pin in an unbelievably hard position, e.g. an inch from of the front of the green near a bunker, but the PGA have devised – along with Jack Nicklaus and PGA of America Chief Championships Officer Kerry Haigh – 4 pin positions for fans to choose from.  They also get an inside view of what the benefits of those positions are from the great man himself.

To incentivise fans, they have the chance to win a behind-the-scenes trip to the 2014 PGA Championship.


The four selected hole locations were chosen by Kerry Haigh, who has set up championship courses for the PGA since 1989, and Nicklaus. Jack said to USA Today;

“The chance for golf fans to interact with the PGA Championship and play a role in shaping the outcome of the final round fascinates me,” 

Haigh added;

“I found it fascinating listening to Jack talking about what he’s thinking about as a player,” 

And why the 15th hole? It’s late in the round, it could prove pivotal and there are many tricky locations to choose from.

“That’s one of the reasons this hole was selected,” Haigh said. “There are a lot of options, and none of them are particularly easy.”

Overall it’s a resally nice competition from a sport that making inroads into social media and digital generally.  Technology wise it is pretty simple but sometimes the best things are just that…. simple. Check it out now on http://picktheholechallenge.pga.com

PGA Pick the hole



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Cool Job: Digital Sales Exec at European Tour

The European Golf Tour are seeking an enthusiastic ambitious individual with a strong digital interest to join their Marketing team working across the European Tour Brand.  It’s a great opportunity for the right person out there to work with one of the best NGB’s out there.  We know that digital roles within sport are really competitive but there are lots of great candidates out there.  If you love golf, could this be the role for you??

Here’s some more info on the role and how to apply….


Job Purpose

To provide client management and sales support to ensure the Tour’s digital assets are maximised and help deliver and manage all client digital activation linked to sponsorship programmes.  The role will support all areas of the Tour Group’s business and direct daily interface with European Tour Productions and be actively involved in face to face selling of Tour properties and products.

Role & Responsibilities

  • Managing a centralised inventory of European Tour Owned digital assets/products.
  • Research new business leads and opportunities.
  • Involvement in structure & delivery of sponsorship programmes involving digital productions across European Tour and Ryder cup websites, mobile apps, social and other media platforms.
  • Support  Sales and European Tour Productions in sale & delivery of digital commercial packages.
  • Support through implementation of digital rights and benefits deliverable through contracted sponsorship agreements.
  • Support Ryder Cup Commercial programme.
  • Manage sales and delivery of the Tours Tournament TV operation.
  • Sales and Admin support to Group Sales & Client Management teams.


  • Selling digital advertising and sponsorship to blue chip clients
  • Digital campaign management and reporting
  • Implementation of digital rights and benefits deliverable through contracted sponsorship agreements
  • Experience in the sporting industry desirable

Location: Virginia Water, Surrey

To apply please submit your CV and covering letter to recruitment@europeantour.com quoting reference UKSNDS and your name in the subject field.

Posted in Golf, Jobs, SportComments (0)

The Social Side of Golf [infographic]

Ahead of this weeks much anticipated first Major of the season we thought it would be a great opportunity to look at how golfers have taken to social media.  They were certainly one of the first sports to really take up Twitter, partially down to the amount of down time they have between events.

It is well known that life on the tour can be hard and lonely.  Travelling all over to world and not being seen by fans until they hit the course, sometimes briefly.  Twitter was a way in which they could communicate with fans and share some of their trials and tribulations with them.

Even Tiger Woods, who originally stayed away from all forms of social media is now active on the platform.  His remains one of brand protection and making up the tarnished reputation from his highly publicised misdemeanours.

I remember watching the Ryder Cup back in 2010 using Twitter to enhance the experience.  It was an amazing insight in those who made up the team  and gave a opportunity to see what else happens during the amazing event.  It was the year that the king of Twitter golfers (at least in the UK), Ian Poulter, was criticised for posting a photo of his son eating breakfast out of the famous trophy!

The US Masters starts on Thursday with the world anticipating a Tiger Woods v Rory McIlroy tussle for the biggest title of the year thus far.  But who wins on Twitter?  The guys at Your Golf Travel have put together a quick infographic to show the Top 10 Twitter Golfers.  I asked them what their inspiration was for putting the list together and Rory Anderson said;

“We were interested to see if there was any correlation between player’s form and their current standing in the game and we like to follow the pros as they give us a great insight into life on tour and the courses they play. Ian Poulter is always worth a follow and, of course, we like to keep up to date with Your Golf Travel Ambassador, Darren Clarke.” 

The Social Side of golf1

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Callaway launches ‘Tweet to Unleash’

Golf is a sport which has embracing social media since it began rising in popularity, especially amongst the globe trotting players.  This has seen major event organisers and manufacturers follow suit as they attempt to engage with consumers in different ways and sell their wares.

We have seen before the concept of tweeting to unlock content within a website.  This is a fairly basic piece of functionality (there is even a WordPress plugin available to do it) but it is more about the content and what you, as a consumer, get at the end of it.

Callaway has launched ‘Tweet to Unleash‘ to spread the word about their latest driver.  When you go onto their site it welcomes you with a nice picture of a driver with its cover on.  To see what is underneath and start unlocking the next 7 images you have to tweet using #LongestDriverinGolf to participate.

Each tweet automatically enters you to win the driver before it arrives in 2013 (an exclusive, which many people enjoy getting access to). Those entries unlock the images and videos revealing more about this ‘advanced technology’.  But how much do people care about a new driver??

Well quite a lot to be fair.  So far there have been almost 2,500 tweets using the hashtag and almost 2,000 mentions made of the @CallawayGolf account (up from its usual 10-20).  It’s also been picked up, and probably outreached to, the likes of Golf Monthly, Bunkershot, MediaPost Communications and Yahoo Finance.  A bit of a mixed bag I’m sure you’ll agree.

Seeing as it only started getting picked up at 1pm and it is now 5.30pm, it is doing well through word of mouth and the auto-tweet from each entry.  This is where this type of campaign relies on its success.  The more people tweet the link and tag the more people see it, visit the site and enter themselves.  The viral effect.

Over the next few days, social media activity will determine when the fully-fledged image of the driver becomes available.

There are several milestones that need to be reached. At each milestone – dynamically determined by the volume of tweets that include the #LongestDriverinGolf hashtag – a section of the full image will be released.

There are eight additional milestones to be reached during the process. At each, a certain aspect of the driver’s technology will be revealed and discussed by Dr. Alan Hocknell, Callaway’s Head of Research and Development.

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LPGA Tour to Show Twitter Handles on Caddie Bibs

USA Today and Washington Post reported on Monday that the LPGA Tour will test out using the caddies bibs to promote players Twitter handles.  This is going to take place at the LPGA Championship at Locust Hill Country Club next month.

We have already seen this happen in Lacrosse and football but it is the first time golf has attempted to go down this route.  It actually makes sense for players to go down this route and would be interesting to find out how much of it is the players pushing for it and how much it is a gimmick to gain the Tour some press.

Golfers have long been on Twitter.  Watching the Ryder Cup back in 2010 whilst having a twitter list made up of players from both teams made for great entertainment and gave the tournament an added depth that had been missing before.

The opportunity for the women’s players to gain more followers and have added exposure is one that will be welcomed.  Many players struggle to make their enjoyment of the game raise a good enough income.  Much of their needs are met by sponsors who require exposure to potential customers via TV, press and digital.

Platforms such as Twitter are great for players to show their personalities and increase their sponsorship earning potential.  The men’s game has been reaping the benefits for a while with the likes of Ian Poulter, Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood gaining huge followings here in the UK.

The greater exposure the women’s players can gain and more fans they can gain then this will only be good news for their sponsors (and potential sponsors) in the future.  Whether this will be a one-off or something that we will see on a regular basis will be interesting.

The LPGA has 113 players on Twitter and much of the success will be whether the players actually use their accounts whilst promoting them.  Is there much point in a caddy having the name on the back if the player has not tweeted for a year or two?

For those who haven’t put finger to keyboard (or phone) for a while then restarting just before the event would certainly be advisable!

We’ll try to get a quote or two from the LPGA and update the page if and when this happens.  What do you think of the news……the future of golf in social or a PR gimmick?



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Golf and Social Media in 2012

The introduction of social media to golf has been long overdue. Whilst other sports have been slowly integrating it into their game golf has not been quick enough to catch up.  There have been many reasons for this and the perception of golf is one of those major obstacles for it to push into the digital world.  Making the introduction of social media into the game so much more difficult.

Football clubs all have Twitter and Facebook accounts; the Rugby Football Union has launched its own social media hub called RFU Labs and I am sure London 2012 has a host of social media plans this year. The list of sports clubs and organisations who have embraced a use of social media is endless but how is golf using social media, if at all?

The US Masters is the epitome of tradition and standards within golf but it’s the last place you would think to set new standards in sports social media. And yet it did in 2011 when it launched a number of digital platforms ranging from on-demand video highlights on Twitter to an IPad app that mapped out the golf course yard by yard. Similarly the Open Championship 2011 used Score Centre + to add a new dimension to their digital coverage.  In fact most professional tournaments have at least a Twitter feed or so

However, the key to sports social media is the way it incorporates not only the athletes and organisers but also the everyday fan and enthusiast. Although individual golfers regularly share their views on Twitter, there is no social network that links the average weekend golfer to other amateur players, to courses, to professional bodies or to media. Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Natalie Gulbis are all particularly heavy tweeters but the problem lies in the difference between connecting teams and connecting individual people, particularly if they have smaller fan bases.  A sport played by individuals against other individuals seems much harder to market in social media than something like a professional team.

But there is good news because golf is evolving to use social media more and more. Divotr is a golf social networking site launching this year that will be a place where golf fans can interact in real time during events in a way not unlike Twitter, except everyone can interact with everyone rather than just your own ‘followers’. Since fans of all sports tend to have a better time sharing event experiences with other people this site looks to fill the gap in golf. In terms of playing the game, Howdidido is a site purely for golfers to input their scorecards and handicaps and to share their statistical ups and downs of the game. Although it is a handy site for players it’s not a game changer in terms of fan interaction and social media.

The biggest launch of golf social media this year is the Back9 Network which is replacing its twindling predecessor the Golf Channel. Its mission is “to offer entertaining and edgy content that fuses the sport of golf with the exciting lifestyle that surrounds it”. It will provide golf fans with a multimedia lifestyle and entertainment network distributed over many different digital platforms. The Back9 Network then appears to be step in the right direction by giving the 60 million people that play golf a voice. Its impact on the perception of golf will be hotly anticipated but whether it inspires a bright new generation of golf fans nobody knows.

As more and more sports integrate social media into their daily routine the sports which are not fully utilising it are the ones which suffer. Golf as a global sport will suffer if it does not integrate social media into its structure.  But luckily it’s getting a shake-up and its perception to the average person as an elitist, dusty game is going to change very soon; most importantly with the use of social media to bring players and fans together.

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2011 Open Golf Championship & Social Media

With the first golfers teeing off today on day one of the 2011 Open Golf Championship, what better time to look at the new innovations that the organisers are putting our way.

Integral to the new look offering are Facebook (www.facebook.com/the-open-championship), Twitter (www.twitter.com/the_open_champ) and YouTube (www.youtube.com/openchampionship) in addition to the main website, new live TV offering with @TheOpen LIVE and Android/iPhone apps.

“@TheOpen LIVE is an exciting new development in the way we present the Championship,” said R&A Chief Executive Peter Dawson. “Although coverage of the golf is broadcast all over the world, we have never previously provided viewers with an intimate experience of the unique atmosphere that The Open creates for spectators. With its behind-the-scenes access and interaction with fans, this live channel will do that.”

You can even watch some of the live coverage via Livestream on the Facebook page, a great way of expanding their reach and offering a great free service to golf enthusiasts.  they have certainly put a lot of thought, effort and money into their online offerings this year but has it been integrated in anything else they are doing to raise the necessary awareness?

It is all very well putting together some really useful, well thought out strategies but they are not integrated off-line then how will people find them to be able to be able to watch/comment?  It will be interesting to find out how it went and what results they gained at the end of the four days.

The 2011 Virtual Open Championship, a free, online game produced by World Golf Tour, is running alongside The Open, this year, with both the nine-hole skills challenge and the 18-hole qualifying round ending on 17 July. This year’s Virtual Open Champion will win a trip for two to the 2012 Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes, including travel, accommodation, tickets to the venue for the week and exclusive R&A Club Marquee access.

The award-winning Opengolf.com will be accompanied by ‘Score Centre+’: A live desktop console, providing fans of The Open with information about the current venue, up-to-date news and video coverage of the build up to the four Championship days in July.

Up to five hours of live coverage will be broadcast daily, by a team of presenters that includes Dominic Holyer and Georgie Bingham, bringing viewers the unique atmosphere of The Open, wherever they are in the world, as well as coverage of post-round press conferences, exclusive interviews and highlights of play.

Here are some snapshots of the different platforms and offers on them.  I’ll certainly be following @TheOpen on Twitter and possibly tuning into Facebook to watch some live golf! 

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