Tag Archives: Golf


Ryder Cup update: fans encouraged to use social media.. in most places

Following recent articles, including by yours truly, about the Ryder Cup not allowed ticket holders to upload images or video to social media during the tournament, the Ryder Cup team have come out with an announcement to clear things up.

Social media interaction, photography and the sharing of content are all going to be encouraged at The 2014 Ryder Cup, according to the organisers. Though not everywhere on the course.

Ryder Cup Europe has moved to reassure spectators that they will be allowed to take photos and video on their mobile phones during the event, and will be encouraged to share their experiences on social networks.

A range of initiatives are already in place for visitors to engage with when they arrive at the event. This includes the use of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology, which will allow spectators to take part in fun activities around the course and share their experiences instantly on social media using a special wristband.

Ryder Cup Europe has also been working with the Scottish Government and mobile phone providers to provide ultrafast 4G wireless connections across the venue.

But organisers have rules in place for spectators on the course at Gleneagles in order to avoid disrupting players and the experience of other spectators. This is where it will still be hard for officials to police…

The use of cameras (and phones?) will be prohibited at each hole during play in order to avoid disrupting players and to enable a clear line of sight for all spectators, many of whom will be standing or sitting around the course rather than in a raised position in a grandstand.

Edward Kitson, Match Director of The 2014 Ryder Cup, said:

“We want people to share their stories online and feel part of The Ryder Cup. We have put in place a range of fantastic activities in the tented village and around the course that use technology to improve the visitor experience, and these are integrated with social networks. Selfies are positively encouraged and I expect to see plenty of them during the event.

 “However, I’m sure everyone will understand that we have to draw a line in the interests of fair play and respect for the players and fellow spectators. Therefore no photography or video will be allowed during play at any hole. This is something we fully expect everyone to support given that The Ryder Cup is won and lost on very fine margins: we want to give the teams every chance of a level playing field and ensure everyone can see the action.”

 Hopefully it will go smoothly but I imagine stopped people taking pictures of the final moments of the tournament will be exceptionally tough. It’s understandable that people trying to get a shot of their favourite player can be enormously off putting to said player, indeed there have been arguments between players and photographers/spectators about this for many years. It’s not just come about through the widespread use of social media.

Hopefully everything will go smoothly on the day, and fingers crossed for another victory for Europe!

ryder cup

Ryder Cup organisers ban photo/video uploads to social media by fans

This week it has been reported that guidelines have been issued to ticket holders warning them against posting images and video on social media for the duration of the tournament.

In a time when other sporting events are looking to capitalise on the proliferation of mobile phones, and second screen devices generally, it’s an interesting move that will prove hard to police. Imagine the winning putt or celebrations of the win not being posted to friends on Facebook as soon as it happens?

This doesn’t affect the millions who will be tuning in to watch Europe’s finest battle the US team. There will be a multitude of ways in which fans will be able to get their fix via digital but seeing the experiences of those on ground through their pictures won’t be one of them (more on that in another article soon).

With 250,000 people expected over the 6 days allowed to bring mobile phones onto the course (on silent) it’s going to be interesting to see how much officials enforce the rules which state;

“Images taken with a camera, mobile phone or other electronic device cannot be used for any purpose other than for private and domestic purposes. You must not sell, license, publish (including, without limitation, via Twitter or Facebook or any other social media site) or otherwise commercially exploit photographs.”

While texting is allowed, and calls in designated areas, mobile phones must be in silent mode at all times. Other prohibitions include a ban on autographs, running, personal mobility scooters and children under five.

A spokesman for Ryder Cup Europe told The Telegraph:

“The Ryder Cup is one of the world’s most recognised sporting events and as such we need to ensure that the brand, encompassing fair play, teamwork and camaraderie is protected at all times which means ensuring that images of the event are not used for monetary gain in a manner which may go against those principles.

“The taking of pictures during high pressure sporting events has also been shown to have an adverse effect on players, with shutter sounds and bright flashes proving to be a distraction at critical moments. It is not fair to compromise the sporting occasion for either the players or those spectating.”

One thing that may work in the organisers favour is the general lack of internet access at golf events. If they don’t add wifi stations around the course, as they did at the British Open this year, then the chance of 3G working with so many people around is going to be remote. Thus people will lose the moment and they wont be uploaded until they get home or to their hotel.

It’s not only the spectators who could be affected by this. The golfers involved are some of the heaviest users of social media, especially Twitter, in the sports world. The likes of Ian Poulter (1.7m fans), Justin Rose (363k), Rory McIlroy (2m), Bubba Watson (1.2m), Rickie Fowler (789k) and many of both teams have large followings to keep up to state – as well as appease sponsors.

Generally they are allowed to post pictures on practice days from on the course but not during playing days. Although The Telegraph talks about players not being able to use social media, the final decision on players using social media actually lies with the captain, in this case Paul McGinley, who isn’t active on social himself.

Back in 2010, when it was last held in Europe, one of the most entertaining aspects was following the players updates throughout the event as Europe went on to an exciting win. It was the first time social media was able to give us insights into golf’s greatest event and has remained popular with the games players and fans since.

Fingers crossed McGinley allows his players to remain active away from the course and we get to see McIlroy and his teammates celebrating with a selfie!


rory selfie


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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

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!


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



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



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.

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

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.

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?