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Masters, IBM enhancing fan experience with Hole Insights to track tournament shots in real time

Masters, IBM enhancing fan experience with Hole Insights to track tournament shots in real time

Tooba Shakir 1 month ago 0 1

Whether it’s your 10th time playing or your first, the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club is a daunting task for every golfer.

It’s the only major of the golfing season that’s continuously played at the same course, yet golfers sometimes take weeks off between tournaments just to prepare for it. And that preparation isn’t just dialing in the swing or working on nailing putts. 

Like any sport, analytics factor into a golfer’s preparation, with statisticians used by almost everyone on Tour, helping them track previous rounds on any given course to figure out a game plan each week.

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Generic view of the Masters app

A general look at how fans can see players’ shots during the 2024 Masters this year. (IBM/The Masters)

Thanks to Watsonx – IBM’s AI and data platform – and the Masters Tournament, the experience for golf fans around the world will have their own analytics they can use to further their understanding of the tournament in real time.

The Masters app and Masters.com have allowed fans to personalize their experience each year, whether it’s the introduction of “My Group” a few seasons ago, which allows fans to watch a broadcast featuring players they specifically want to follow, or the “Round in Three Minutes.”

Now, the generative AI capabilities of Watsonx allow fans to get data-driven projections and analysis for each hole at Augusta with Hole Insights.

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IBM Hole Insights, which joins the “Track Shots” experience for Masters.com and mobile apps, brings in current and historical play data, breaking it down to the point where projections of a certain shot on the course can be quantified on any given hole. 

“The generative AI power of watsonx is enabling IBM and the Augusta National Golf Club to co-create technology solutions that bring the magic of the Masters to life for millions of fans around the world,” said Jonathan Adashek, senior vice president of marketing and communications at IBM. “From training and tuning to monitoring and maintenance, watsonx manages the entire lifecycle of the AI models used to create features such as AI Narration and Hole Insights.”

Fox News Digital saw a breakdown of how much data went into Hole Insights ahead of the 2024 Masters, where shots from the past eight years – more than 170,000 shots – were analyzed to show which holes are the hardest and easiest on the course.

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With CBS Sports’ Amanda Balionis present to break things down from her point of view leading into Masters coverage, she went back to 2019 when everyone but Woods was aggressive on the always tricky No. 12 par-3 in the final round, where the water in front of the green became the landing zone for many tee shots, while Woods was cautious and hit the center of the green.

Justin Thomas talks with caddie

Justin Thomas talks with his caddie, Matt Minister, during a practice round prior to the Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 8, 2024. (Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Looking at the past, though, creates the ability to possibly predict the future thanks to the large sample of data being used. 

Projections of how each hole on the course might play, which are based on past and current performance data that Watsonx brings in, allow fans to see how holes are shaping out for a certain player or the field as a whole. So, for example, fans can see that a golfer’s upcoming approach shot has an 82% chance of leading to a birdie based on where the tee shot landed. Then the video of the approach shot follows to show what the result was. 

Overall, Hole Insights allows fans to see performance data in real time as the Masters is being played.

Not only that, but AI-enabled Spanish language narration is new this year, which is an expansion from the English language AI Narration that debuted in 2023. So, while a highlight clip is playing, the fan is receiving insight about that particular shot during the tournament, while AI Narration is talking through the shot as it’s made.

And finally, for the first time this year, innovation by IBM and the Masters brings the app to Apple Vision Pro. Other than the popular Masters app features, there will be ones unique to Apple Vision Pro, including 3D renderings of holes on the course.

These users will also be able to customize the app based on which features they’d like to see the most, including livestreams, live leaderboard and more. 

The Masters and IBM have been working together for more than 25 years as the digital age has transformed the way golf enthusiasts enjoy the major each year.

Generic photo of The Masters app

The Masters App helps fans personalize their tournament viewing experience. (IBM/The Masters)

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And while Balionis says players must try not to overthink Augusta National when it comes time to put all the analytics and swing preparation to the test on Thursday when the tournament begins, fans don’t have to think at all in terms of creating the perfect viewing experience for themselves.

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