“The Open For The Ages” – An Innovative Virtual Golf Tournament Experience
- July 14, 2020
“The Open For The Ages” is a virtual tournament featuring an all-star roster of Open winners from the past 50 years that will be “played” Thursday through Sunday at the venerable Old Course at St. Andrews. The comprehensive project has incorporated 50 years of archived video footage of these former champions competing at the historical Scottish course while NTT DATA provided the artificial intelligence technology to determine who will raise that virtual Claret Jug.With this week’s Open Championship cancelled as a result of the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic, NTT DATA collaborated with The R&A on an innovative project to fill that golfing void for millions of fans across the globe.
The absence of live events (with audiences) has impacted amateur and professional sports worldwide – like so many other industries. The safety of communities, athletes, employees and sports fans has rightly been put at the forefront creating an environment where only 50% of all professional sports events may take place worldwide in 2020 – a potential revenue loss exceeding $62B. That financial loss is compounded by the emotional and recreational gap that fans feel without their teams and athletes to cheer for, whether stick-and-ball or motorsports, the games have been missed. This is an environment where the popularity of esports, iRacing and virtual events continues to be on the rise.
“The Open For The Ages” is a virtual tournament featuring an all-star roster of Open winners from the past 50 years that will be “played” Thursday through Sunday at the venerable Old Course at St. Andrews. The comprehensive project has incorporated 50 years of archived video footage of these former champions competing at the historical Scottish course while NTT DATA provided the artificial intelligence technology to determine who will raise that virtual Claret Jug.
As an Official Patron and IT Partner of The Open Championship for the seventh consecutive year, it is quite an honor for our team to play such a significant role in this novel virtual “major.” Our challenge was to develop a comprehensive data model to determine who will emerge as the champion of “The Open For The Ages.” In keeping with our goal to innovate memorable fan experiences, we will combine the career statistics of each player with votes of more than 10,000 fans to provide an intriguing mix of AI technology with fan sentiment.
I’m looking forward to the three-hour broadcast on July 19to see how the half century of footage is seamlessly edited to create simulated competition between champions of different eras. It will be incredible to see greats like Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo, Tom Watson, Rory McIlroy and others competing against each other in their prime on the hallowed golfing grounds of St. Andrews.
In keeping with tradition for us golf fans in the United States, it will be an early-morning rise for the final round of “The Open For The Ages.” The three-hour broadcast on NBC’s GOLF Channel will begin at 6 a.m. EST. The GOLF Channel also will re-air Monday at 8 p.m. ET but I don’t think I can wait another day to find out who emerges victorious among these golfing greats.
TheOpen.com as well as The Open’s YouTube and Facebook platforms will provide comprehensive coverage of the first three rounds — Thursday, July 16 through Saturday, July 18 — with in-play video clips, leaderboards and highlights to set the scene for the final round.
While we all yearn for the actual Open Championship, we hope the “Open For The Ages” brings fans some enjoyment and excitement to the weekend that was reserved for the world’s oldest golf tournament. We look forward to NTT DATA’s return as Official Patron and IT Provider of The Open Championship in 2021 when the 149th edition takes place July 15-18 at Royal St. George’s in the UK.