The PGA Tour’s first foray into augmented reality shows it understands what broadcasters don’t

Any criticism of televised golf must be leveled at NBC, CBS, and Golf Channel. The only telecast the PGA Tour actually produces itself is the mobile/web supplement, PGA Tour live.

This said, the Tour has an important role to play in the future of televised coverage, owing both to their access and deep pockets. It was good to see, then, The Tour unveiling augmented reality technology for the first time during The Players Championship telecast.

Mark J. Burns writing for SportTechie talked to Scott Gutterman, Vice President of Digital Operations at the Tour about the use of virtual reality to show changes to TPC Sawgrass’ 12th hole.

“We always struggle, as a lot of people do, in a 2D, linear environment around how our courses look, how they’re laid out and really give people a good point of view,” he said. “It’s always hard to do that on a flat surface. The idea behind the AR work for PGA TOUR LIVE was…to show how the 12th hole is completely different. We wanted to do it in a way that was highly creative and really let people see the hole as opposed to showing them a flat 2D screen.”

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Gutterman indicated the Tour plans to do more with AR in the future based on the strong positive response they received.

This is, again, a good thing. The augmented reality segment both used technology in a dynamic and interesting way and added to the viewing experience. Golf courses are meant to be seen in 3-D! Any effort to show the slopes and contours of PGA Tour tracks should be lauded.

Check out the segment, produced in conjunction with media and technology agency Black Helicopter Creative.

Kratzert and Swantek merely talked shop around a drawing of the 12th hole, and the augmented version was added in later. You’d have to assume a similar process for other holes in the future won’t be massively complicated, and it won’t be long before the AR hole view replaces the video flyover.

Also wise: According to Gutterman, PGA Tour Live is the proving ground for new technologies. So while golf fans are enjoying a unique second screen telecast with its own features, they can expect the best utilities to find their way into, say, the CBS telecast alongside Nick Faldo’s usual babble. If this does nothing other than remind the talking heads they are part of a multimedia production, not merely a talk show, the effort will have been well worth it.

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