The PGA Tour Created an Augmented-Reality App to Get People Interested in Real-Life Golf

It's sponsored by Mastercard

The PGA Tour's AR app was created by Possible Mobile and sponsored by Mastercard.

It might not quite feel like golf season yet, at least not in New York where snow is in the forecast for tomorrow. But the PGA Tour is trying to get fans excited by helping them plot out digital holes on their real-life tables.

The PGA Tour released its own augmented-reality app today for iOS. The free app was created by Possible Mobile and sponsored by Mastercard, the presenting sponsor of this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational in Bay Hill, Fla.

The app, created using Apple’s ARKit, lets users project certain players’ shot trails along designated courses by scanning any flat surface in front of them. When the hole appears, users can compare players’ shots along the way, starting with the par-5 sixth hole at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Users will also be able to see how players did on the par-3 seventh from the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

It’s just the latest thing the PGA Tour is teeing up to integrate emerging technology to help grow the sport’s fan base, particularly with younger generations. Last year, the tour announced a virtual-reality experience with Intel to create and distribute 360-degree videos from tournaments in 2018. The first tournament to get 360-degree coverage was last month’s Waste Management Phoenix Open.

According to Possible Mobile CEO Ben Reubenstein, development of the app started last May, even before Apple released ARKit for developers. However, he said, the kit’s release let Possible develop and the AR experience within two days.

“For us, we were excited that we were able to quickly prototype the idea and get it into the market,” Reubenstein said. “I think right now we’re very much in experimentation phase where we’re trying to take these real-world experiences and figure out how to leverage these technologies to get a larger audience.”

The PGA Tour is just one of several sports leagues interested in AR. Last year, Major League Baseball announced plans to add an “At Bat” app sometime during the 2018 season.

Possible plans to add more tournaments and features to the app throughout the year. Another feature in development, for example, will let fans at tournaments follow along by projecting holes on the grass to replay the shots in AR right after they happen in real life.

“We honestly see this … as an incremental step to what the next AR opportunities are going to be,” Reubenstein said.