Time for The Masters — the best digital experience in sports

Gary Player (R) congratulates Jack Nicklaus after Nicklaus' hole in one (Sam Greenwood/Augusta National)

Gary Player (R) congratulates Jack Nicklaus after Nicklaus’ hole in one (Sam Greenwood/Augusta National)

There’s no small bit of irony in the fact that The Masters, one of the few places left on earth where you absolutely cannot carry a working cell phone, offers perhaps the best digital experience in all of sports. I’m biased, because I like golf and like the tradition and history of the Masters competition, but I would challenge you to find another event, team or league that offers the breadth and depth of the online/mobile experience brought forth by The Masters, CBS and IBM.

With live competition beginning Thursday morning, I’m not worried that I won’t be next to a TV set for the excellent, mostly commercial-free broadcast (Thursday-Friday on ESPN, Saturday-Sunday on CBS). That’s because if I am online or on my phone I will have access to no fewer than five different live feeds from Augusta, including featured groups as well as focused coverage on “Amen Corner,” the classic stretch between the 11th and 13th holes of the famed Augusta National course.

What makes the online and mobile experience so good? Production that parallels the TV broadcast, for one. No need for cable contract authorization, for another. That The Masters is like Harvard with its endowments — and as such doesn’t need to pander to advertisers — is nirvana for all golf fans, but especially so for those of us who watch a lot of sports action these days online. While TV commercials are easily endured (or muted, or skipped) it seems of late that broadcasters are doing their best to reclaim eyeball turf online, by subjecting digital viewers to more and more invasive ads.

During the recent NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament there was a lot of praise for the online product, but nowhere did I see anyone report the fact we found out — that when you were watching online or on your phone, during commercials the Turner/NCAA folks kindly blocked your ability to mute the sound on the screen controls. On my phone during the great regional game between Kentucky and Notre Dame I also saw a small button with a Pizza Hut logo remain on the left side of the screen during play. You would never try that on a broadcast offering, but for many events it seems OK to smack the online viewers around for any profit possible.

During the Masters, that’s not happening. (Or at least it didn’t last year! Hope I’m not jinxing things.)

Anyway — when play starts Thursday just go to Masters.com or download the app, watch away and see if you don’t agree. If there’s another online experience that’s better, I’d like to hear about it.

BONUS: Watch the Golden Bear back one up for a hole in one during the par 3 contest.

Watching Golf this Week: Zurich Classic of New Orleans

Got to hand it to the folks who run the Zurich Classic of New Orleans — if your event doesn’t have Tiger, what better way to get attention than to invite the Masters sensation, 14-year-old Guan Tianlang? Let’s hope there are no slow-play penalties this week.

Other possible stories to emerge from the Bayou: What has happened to Jason Dufner, last year’s victor in this tourney, who seemed poised for a breakout year but then sorta just… laid back? And is Bubba Watson finally ready to play golf again, now that his career as most recent Masters champion is over? Answer for both of them: Maybe not. But even so, they’re still entertaining. In their own way.

No @Live video this week (wait until the Players for that) but Comcast customers can still get simulcasts online.


(all times Eastern)

Friday, April 26 — Golf Channel, 3 p.m. — 6 p.m.
Saturday, April 27 — Golf Channel, 1 p.m. — 2:30 p.m.; CBS, 3 p.m. — 6 p.m.
Sunday, April 28 — Golf Channel, 1 p.m. — 2:30 p.m.; CBS, 3 p.m. — 6 p.m.


Thursday and Friday, Golf Channel TV simulcast coverage via PGATour.com and GolfChannel.com; Saturday and Sunday, CBS coverage via the PGA site and from CBSSports.com. Right now only Comcast cable subscribers can watch live online video on weekdays. NOTE: If you are using the PGA Mobile app to watch the Golf Channel online video, be advised that it only works with iOS phones and with some (not all) Android phones. There is no fix planned for the immediate future.

Don’t forget the PGA’s Shot Tracker, a great way to track the action online.

SIRIUS XM (Satellite) 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The live broadcasts are also available to subscribers on the SiriusXM Internet Radio App and online at SiriusXM.com.

Here is the Zurich Classic Facebook page.

Zurich Classic Twitter feed.
Geoff Shackelford — well known golf writer. If you’re not following Geoff you are missing the online boat.
Golf Channel — official Golf Channel feed
@PGATOUR — official PGA Twitter feed
@StephanieWei — great golf writer who is a Twitter fiend.
Doug Ferguson is the lead golf writer for AP. Good Twitter insights that often aren’t part of your wire-service lead.

Take a good look at the TPC Louisiana.

Jason Dufner.