The Players Championship keeps major-like online viewing options

Island green at TPC Sawgrass, home of the Players Championship

Island green at TPC Sawgrass, home of the Players Championship

It’s still not recognized as one of professional golf’s majors, but this week’s Players Championship tournament nonetheless has majors-like online coverage, with multiple ways to watch golf online during a weekend when almost all of the top players are competing.

In addition to having big-event features like being able to follow featured groups of players throughout their entire round and to watch every group play the famous island-green hole, No. 17, the Players online options also include the PGA’s whizzy Live Maps feature, which lets you look at an interactive Google map of the course and then click on the group you want to see shot info for. For desktop jockeys who want to keep an eye on golf during Thursday and Friday, such option are what make online sports worthwhile.


As we did last year, however, we can’t heartily recommend the PGA app for mobile devices, unless your mobile device is made by Apple. We’ve tried the PGA app on several of the Android devices we have around the MSR headquarters, and have found it still spotty — sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. The other confusing thing about trying to watch golf online is the weird handoffs that sometimes happen due to network coverage issues.

What do we mean? Sometimes the golf is available online only, and sometimes you have to open the NBC app because the coverage is live on broadcast TV. Though it seems like you can always get there, the hoops and jumps seem like a confusing Kludge. Why golf (and other sports) can’t figure out the rights issues between themselves and just make it one-click easy for the fans is beyond me. But it’s a little reminder that we are still at early days for online and mobile sports viewing, and at least for me the value of being able to watch online or on a mobile device is worth the tradeoff of having to figure out how to configure my device or launch the right app. But it should be easier, and better.

Updated PGA Tour 14 app greets new season


The PGA Tour has revamped its existing PGA Tour ’14 app from the ground up to offer an enhanced experience for fans that are both attending its events as well as ones that are following tournaments from remote locations.

Using apps at events is very popular because a fan might be following one group but is interested in a host of players and how they are doing not just hole by hole but shot by shot and the app addresses this and much more with enhanced existing features as well as additional ones.

Starting off it gives you a live, up to the second leaderboard. As a leaderboard feature there are players’ listings that can provide a thumbnail profile of the player, current scorecards and video of select shots. From there the fan, if they so desire, can follow an individual players’ live scorecard that now features play by play with shot trails and live up to date stats. The tee shot trails feature is only available at courses that support ShotLink laser technology.

Moving from the individual to the group there is the ability to check on groupings with both time and location of tee times. There is video on demand that provides a wide variety of features including player features, recaps of every round and tournament highlights. Of course the entire season schedule is also available.

The PGA Tour ’14 app covers approximately 130 tournaments featuring the PGA Tour, Champions Tour, Tour, NEC Series-PGA TOUR Latinoamérica, PGA TOUR Canada and PGA TOUR China. The app is available for both Android and iOS devices.

Viewers flock to on-air and digital PGA Championship broadcasts


The Turner Sports decision to present an aggressive online presence for the PGA Championship as well as strong over the air coverage resulted in strong results as the event sees big growth in viewership in both areas.

The over the air broadcast of the 2013 PGA Championship from the Oak Hill Country Club East Course in Pittsford, N.Y., shown on TNT received the network’s highest rating for the event in 3 years with an average of 1.6 million viewers, up 54% from last year. It had an average of 1.2 U.S. house hold rating, a 50% increase from last year.

Probably as no surprise most of the top regions in terms of viewership are also hot golfing destinations and all rated much higher than the national average. They were markets for all four rounds of coverage on TNT were Las Vegas (2.7), West Palm Beach (2.6), Columbus (2.4), Greenville, S.C. (2.4) and Orlando (2.3).

While the broadcast numbers were strong, the digital numbers were even stronger, showing that there is a large market that wants to experience sporting events but often cannot get away to view them on television.

The PGA.Com umbrella that handles both mobile and broadband streaming delivery was up 69% during the Championship and live streaming hours across platforms are up 85% compared with 2012.

Fan Vision Delivers the PGA Championship to Attendees


Have you ever been to a golf tournament and you can hear the roar of the crowd after some great feat by a golfer, but you did not witness it because you are sitting at the 18th hole waiting for your favorites to play through?

Well FanVision, a company that is seeking to establish itself as a leading provider of in-venue content is offerings its technology at the tournament that is being held this week at the Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, New York.

The idea is simple: lease or buy a small device that features video feed from the venue, and possibly elsewhere at the same time. The handheld device supports ten channels that have the ability to provide multiple camera angles or events happened at multiple places.

It is not just a source for live video but also provides information about the event as well as providing up to date news from the tournament. The company is renting the handheld devices at the Championship on a daily basis as well as for the week. If anyone uses one there we would be interested in some feedback.

The company first came to our attention two years ago when it started pushing its technology at NFL games, but then fell off the radar as that effort appears to have fallen to the wayside. But that did not mean that the company went away- it moved into new areas including NASCAR, which seems to be a natural fit for the technology, the Indy 500 and had a relationship with Formula One but that appears to be over, which is a pity. This is an interesting approach, and I can see it appealing to fans at events such as auto racing and golf, and even horse racing.

AT&T Deploys ‘Mobile DAS’ to Answer Big-Event Needs

AT&T's Mobile DAS truck

AT&T’s Mobile DAS truck

For many sporting events these days, it’s a challenge to bring the mobile connectivity fans want and need when onsite. It’s an especially challenging task at outdoor events like golf tournaments, where infrastructure may be limited and large numbers of fans may be congregated in hard-to-reach areas, like near tees and greens.

At the recent Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial PGA Tour stop in Fort Worth, Texas, AT&T brought some new technology to handle fans’ mobile needs: A mobile DAS, or distributed antenna system, deployment that delivered much more granular cellular coverage to the event than other solutions, like cell towers on wheels (COWs) were capable of bringing.

Simply, by putting DAS head-end equipment into a truck (pictured above) and then by putting up a lot of smaller antennas around the course, AT&T was able to provide more coverage where it was needed, one of the hallmarks of any DAS system. With a few COWs on site as well, AT&T provided a much better level of connectivity than ever before, according to Chad Townes, VP of AT&T’s antenna solutions group.

“Your first choice is always to put in permanent infrastructure, and leave it there if we can,” said Townes in a phone interview earlier this week. But at many places where coverage is needed, like the Colonial Country Club, it simply isn’t possible to string wire and put up antennas. In the past, what cellular providers typically did in one-time situations was bring in the COWs, the cell antennas on wheels. The problem with those antennas, Townes said, is that they sometimes interfered with each other (if parked too closely together), plus they run into the same limitations a regular macro tower has, mainly an inability to handle a big, compact crowd of phone users.

Chad Townes, VP, AT&T Antenna Solutions Group

Chad Townes, VP, AT&T Antenna Solutions Group

Enter the mDAS, which Townes said was “created kind of out of necessity.” With numerous smaller antennas (which don’t interfere with each other as much) AT&T was able to provide much more targeted cellular coverage, a key for events like golf tournaments where fans are often clustered in areas like hospitality tents or greenside stands. Media and tournament officials also put heavy wireless demands on providers, and the mDAS was used to satisfy those bandwidth needs as well.

Townes said AT&T’s mDAS actually got its first test run at the Democratic National Convention a couple years ago, when AT&T didn’t want to sign a long-term DAS lease with the facility the convention was held in. The DAS truck was built, and the antennas were put up the day of the event, with great success. The next question was: Where to use mDAS next?

Inside the AT&T mDAS truck

Inside the AT&T mDAS truck

“Now that we had this asset, what could we do with it?” Townes said. Golf tournaments made instant sense, given their one-time needs for coverage and the infrastructure challenges of an open grassy field. Where else might AT&T deploy mDAS in the future? Maybe at state fairs, or motor sport events held on downtown streets, or big-crowd music festivals, Townes said.

Townes, who is scheduled to speak at the upcoming SEAT conference in Kansas City, said the mDAS was just another way AT&T has responded to the always-changing and never-the-same needs when it comes to providing big-event connectivity.

“Even when you’re putting wireless into stadiums, no two are alike because there are always differences in building materials, or the shape of the bowl,” Townes said. The mDAS, he added, “was just another example of how we had to get real creative” to solve an event’s connectivity needs. (AT&T video about the mDAS at Colonial below)

Watching Golf this Week: The U.S. Open, Philly Style

US Open MerionAre you ready for 2013 Major No. 2? The big daddy of them all? I truly can’t wait for this one to start, because I feel like we all sorta got cheated at the Masters. I mean — lost in the hubbub of the Tiger Drop Crisis was the fact that the dude was just about ready to take the lead and start stomping everyone.

And then the ball hit the pole. And went into the drink. And then the wheels came off.

As play starts today outside Philadelphia at the quirky old Merion East course (Anyone else think the logo featuring the pole-baskets looks like a freaking bloody Q-tip?) all eyes rightfully will be on Tiger Woods, and his quest for Major No. 15. Nobody else really matters right now, and nobody this year is truly playing at his level. But one thing is for sure, the “new” Tiger isn’t anything like the old — over the last year or so he has shown a tendancy to choke on the weekends at majors, something he never did before. And the rest of the guys playing? They’ve gotten better.

What does that mean for Tiger? It means his margin of error is much slimmer than it was when he was the only guy on the tour who looked like an athlete. Now there’s lots of them. He used to be by far the farthest hitter, now he’s about top average. There are new foreign foes like Graeme McDowell, who aren’t going to be intimidated by Tiger the way the U.S. Tour guys used to be. With its tight layout and wet conditions Merion is probably going to be a birdie fest, so no more rope-a-dope par fests like last year at Olympic. There’s going to be room to make shots here, so let’s get it on. Having just watched the Blackhawks beat the Bruins in triple overtime in the Stanley Cup opener, I’m ready for more drama and lore. Don’t let us down, Tiger. Or whoever wants to keep Tiger’s majorless streak going.

ESPN has your live TV Thursday and Friday, our suggestion is mute when Berman starts talking, unmute when Van Pelt has the mike. NBC gets the weekend, with lots of online viewing available at or via the U.S. Open app, which beats pants off the PGA Tour app (which still doesn’t really work on all Android phones). WatchESPN and ESPNRadio also available online.


(all times Eastern)
Thursday, June 13 — ESPN, 9 a.m. — 3 p.m.; 5 p.m. — 7 p.m.; NBC, 3 p.m. — 5 p.m.
Friday, June 14 — ESPN, 9 a.m. — 3 p.m.; 5 p.m. — 7 p.m.; NBC, 3 p.m. — 5 p.m.
Saturday, June 15 — NBC, 1 p.m. — 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, June 16 — NBC, 1 p.m. — 7:30 p.m.

SIRIUS XM (Satellite)
12 p.m. — 4 p.m., Thursday; 12 p.m. — 5 p.m, Friday. The live broadcasts are also available to subscribers on the SiriusXM Internet Radio App and online at

10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday-Friday, 2 p.m. — 8 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.

This a better deal for those not living in the U.S., because it’s free internationally. Inside the U.S. you will pay (due to rights fees) $1.99 per event or $9.99 for the whole year. Gives you the CBS feed, audio version. Click here for more info and payment plans for your area.

The U.S. Open site at has live online coverage with featured groups.
Thursday groups:
7:11 a.m. – Marquee Group 1 (Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker, Keegan Bradley)
1:14 p.m. – Marquee Group 2 (Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott)
Friday groups:
7:44 a.m. – Marquee Group 1 (Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott)
12:41 p.m. – Marquee Group 2 (Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker, Keegan Bradley)

Featured groups on the weekend, TBD.

There are also mobile apps for iOS and Android.

Here’s the USGA Facebook page.


The U.S. Open 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. Now leading the Wei (hah!) with Google+ Hangouts during most tourneys.
Doug Ferguson is the lead golf writer for AP. Good Twitter insights that often aren’t part of your wire-service lead.
Matt Ginella is a former Golf Digest writer now at Golf Channel. Your guide to the best golf course reviews, evar. Plus great columnist-type commentary on a regular basis.

If you haven’t heard about good old Merion and the baskets on the flagpoles you’ve been under a rock the past week. Here’s a great lengthy takeout on Merion’s East Course from the folks at SBNation.

The Birdman! Excuse me, it was Webb Simpson, with an assist from Jim Furyk.