Golf Channel’s Callaway Driving Grid
Golf Channel first used the Driving Grid this year in Maui at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. The technology was used on the 18th hole, which features the course’s longest drives thanks to a downhill tee shot and wind blowing behind the player.
Golf Channel’s lead producer, Tommy Roy, wanted to use on-screen graphics to show viewers how far the pros’ drives traveled as soon as the ball came to a stop.
Using data from the Shot-Link scoring and statistical data system, producers could click on the ball when it stopped, and the yardage of the drive would pop up. SportsMedia Technology applied the technology.
“My idea was just to use it on that one hole for that one tournament,” Roy said.
Sponsors loved it, however, so Golf Channel’s ad sales team sold a sponsorship around it to Callaway. Roy’s plan to use the technology as a one-off was expanded to include most Golf Channel tournaments — including all PGA Tour tournaments on the network — this year.
In each tournament, Golf Channel will use the technology on one hole. Roy said the hole typically will be a dog-leg that will allow the network to place a camera at least 100 feet above the hole.
“We want to pick a hole where golfers are going to be ripping it with their driver,” Roy said. “If they are all using a 3-wood, it wouldn’t be nearly as effective.”
Eventually, Roy believes the technology can be used on par 3s, showing how close tee shots are to the hole as soon as the ball stops moving. “Any time you can enhance the viewing experience for somebody, it’s helpful,” Roy said.