No Shots in the Dark
The PGA Tour has invested millions of dollars in a hi-tech system called Shot Tracker that follows the moves of every player in a tournament
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There are elevation changes to the course and undulations on the greens that are crucial to know as you watch a guy play a shot. We use a live, real-time graphic package called Pinpoint from a company in London. They can precisely pinpoint where the hole is cut and all the undulations of the green, and all the undulations and elevation changes and turn it into a graphical representation. And we can use all the ShotLink data and build a very accurate representation of the shot or putt that a player faces."
The Golf Channel uses a device on two holes each week that can precisely read the break of a putt. "It's an enhancement for all the things we use from the ShotLink system," says producer Jack Graham. "The most important thing about ShotLink is that all your information is current and accurate. We don't have to wonder what someone is doing when he's out of our range. It's right there on the computers in front of us."
The United States Golf Association and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, which conduct the U.S. and British Opens, are also embracing technology while not being part of the ShotLink system. Both organizations now utilize streaming videos and iPod feeds to keep their fans up to date.
So, want to hit the links yourself while a tournament is being played, even though your fantasy team is making a hash of the $100 bucks you put up? Head for the club computer on the turn and you can find out all the grim news, every bloody shot. The PGA Tour has you connected, wherever you might be.
Jeff Williams is a Cigar Aficionado contributing editor.