PGA Championship 2019: CBS will use a blimp at Bethpage to take shot-tracing to the next level

May 10, 2019

CBS is debuting a number of new technologies to make this year’s PGA Championship viewing experience the best ever. Exhibit A: the shot-tracer. Viewers have become accustomed to watching a digitized line follow a player’s shot from impact all the way to its landing zone. But this year, CBS is adding an extra element of intrigue. The network’s Toptracer aerial tracing technology will now originate from a blimp camera rather than from the ground — a first for any golf broadcast.

How does it work? Live video from the blimp will be used in conjunction with existing Virtual Eye Hero and Toptracer technology, allowing the network to provide complete shot trajectory for the players from the tee to the green. The aerial vantage point will offer a more complete picture of the players’ shot shapes.


“The aerial tracing is an excellent tool for us,” CBS Sports executive producer/SVP, production, Harold Bryant told Sports Video Group. “It helps tell the story of how these golfers can manipulate their drives or any of their shots. It’s going to be incredible to see [that angle] from a blimp tracing from the tee box.”

Other technological broadcast offerings include the motion capture technology that debuted at this year’s Masters, which features full-body skeleton analytics during the golf swing, virtual flyover animations, Hawk-Eye Green technology, which includes Putt Predictor and undulation grids that allow viewers to see the line and break of a player’s putt before he hits it, SwingVision, which offers a super-slo-mo look at a player’s swing, aerial drone coverage and course-wide wind analysis.


“We don’t just throw [technology] at it; we calculate the best way to improve the broadcast,” Bryant said. “What’s out there and what can we do to capture more shots or be closer to the game for the viewer? We’re just trying to make it a better broadcast for the viewer. Each course that we go to is a different challenge and provides us a different opportunity to try some of the new enhancements and technologies.”

Nearly 200 cameras and 175 microphones will be employed during the championship week, covering 41 miles of multi-strand fiber and equaling 492 miles of actual fiber connectivity.

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