There’s no sport that’s more difficult to cover than professional golf. Hundreds of competitors spaced out across thousands of yards playing the elements and constantly moving around. Fox Sports entered the space at the 2015 U.S. Open, and every year since it has introduced innovative new technological features that get golf fans’ pulses racing.
And they’ve got some big plans to raise the bar again this year.
“We are planning our most comprehensive and technologically advanced U.S. Open to date,” said Zac Fields, Fox Sports SVP Graphic Tech & Innovation. “We’re constantly improving the viewing experience of this great event.”
So, what should fans expect in 2019? Let’s take a look.
Trackman on Every Hole
Fox Sports will feature Trackman technology on every one of Pebble Beach’s tee boxes, capable of delivering all the delightfully nerdy swing data we’ve craved. Swing Speed, Ball Speed, Smash Factor, Carry Distance — maybe even spin loft! It’s the kind of on-course data that isn’t always easy to come by, by something golf nerds like me crave.
Two Different Shot Tracers
We all love shot tracers, so good news: There will be two of that at the 2019 U.S. Open. Alongside Trackman on nine of the tee boxes, there’ll be the standard “ball trace over live video” feature that we all know and love. On the other nine tee-boxes, there’ll be a Fox FlightTrack feature, which superimposes the shot tracer in real-time over a graphic version of the golf hole, which helps viewers place players’ drives within the context of the hole.
Outside of the tee boxes and the Toptracer Tower, Fox Sports plans to have “RF tracers”, which will be manned and roaming the grounds. Holes 6 and 12 will have FlightTrack stationed within the technology.
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The Toptracer Tower is a new tech roll-out this year, and will be stationed on the 14th hole. Usually, when we see Toptracer, the camera has to be stationary as the shot flies off. With the new Toptracer Tower, the camera will be able to move around — zooming, in, up and around — at the same time we get to the Toptracer line.
More Augmented Reality
Fox Sports has been leading the way in augmented reality, in golf and beyond. We’ll get more if it this year, so get ready. The broadcast plans to use blimps and cranes that will layer all kinds of statistical information onto the live coverage, such as wind direction and real-time statistics. It’ll be fun to see how this one pans out.
Another new technology this year, Fox will have Out of Bounds cameras capable of “210 degrees” of capture on holes 4 and 5 so viewers can see whenever balls start flirting with the various hazards.
We’ll get another drone this year showing us the beautiful layout of one of the most scenic courses in golf, which will be operated from a boat just off the coast.