How the Masters Strengthened Its Traditions with Digital Innovation

The Masters golf tournament, known for its rich traditions and prestigious legacy, has embraced digital innovation to enhance the experience for golf enthusiasts worldwide. By leveraging a robust digital tech stack, the Masters has modernised its application, offering a host of features such as live streaming, fantasy gaming, live scoring, and player tracking to enhance digital fan engagement. Additionally, the tournament has incorporated personalization elements like custom feeds and automated video highlights, providing fans with an unparalleled level of engagement. In recent years, the Masters has further advanced its digital endeavours by focusing on artificial intelligence (AI), particularly generative AI, to deliver even more interactive experiences for its audience.

A Longstanding Partnership with IBM Fuels Digital Growth

The Masters’ digital journey began with a strong partnership with IBM, one of its main commercial sponsors. IBM has been collaborating with the tournament for nearly three decades, propelling the growth and evolution of its digital presence. This collaboration began in 1996 with the launch of the Masters’ first official website, which aimed to replicate the tournament’s ambiance and aesthetics in the digital realm.

Evolution Through Technology: From Course Cams to Mobile Apps

Over time, the Masters’ digital offerings expanded as technology advanced. Features such as course cams and live video streams of select holes were introduced, captivating fans with real-time access to the event. The introduction of the Masters’ mobile application in 2009, available on iPhone, iPad, and Android platforms, revolutionised how fans engaged with the tournament, bringing live streaming capabilities and enriched video content to their fingertips.

The Masters’ digital innovation is not limited to streaming and engagement; it also leverages advanced data analytics to deliver personalised experiences. Through state-of-the-art cameras, microphones, and laser tracking technology, the tournament captures detailed video, audio, and precise coordinates for each shot. Coupled with historical data from the Masters and other tournaments, this wealth of information enables IBM’s data engineers to unlock a range of possibilities.

The Masters’ recent focus has been on harnessing the power of artificial intelligence, with a particular emphasis on generative AI. For the 2023 edition of the tournament, IBM trained large language models (LLMs) in golf terminology, enabling them to convert massive data sets into spoken word commentary for every single shot. This AI-driven commentary adds an immersive layer to the viewing experience, providing in-depth analysis and insights.

The application of AI extends beyond commentary. The AI capabilities developed by IBM also enable hole-by-hole player predictions based on detailed analysis of six years of Masters data. This integration enhances the tournament’s official fantasy game, offering fans a more interactive and engaging experience while testing their predictive skills.

The Masters has been at the forefront of broadcasting innovations in golf. From being the first tournament to have microphones on the tee and green, allowing viewers to hear the sound of shot swings and player conversations, to broadcasting in high-definition, 3D, and 4K UHD, the tournament has consistently pushed the boundaries of television coverage. While domestic rights are awarded for a nominal fee each year, international broadcast partnerships have evolved to ensure wider reach and engagement

A Winning Combination of Tradition and Technology

The Masters’ embrace of digital innovation has strengthened its rich traditions and elevated the tournament experience for fans worldwide. From live streaming and fantasy gaming to personalised feeds and AI-driven insights, the tournament has set new benchmarks in engaging its audience. With an ongoing focus on artificial intelligence and generative AI, the Masters continues to evolve, staying at the forefront of technology and ensuring its legacy as the pinnacle of golf tournaments.