Fan-friendly hand-held device to make splash at Medinah
Hand-held devices will be available for spectators to rent during practice and tournament rounds at Medinah. With myLEADERBOARD technology, fans will be able to walk the course and follow the tournament like never before.
By T.J. Auclair, Junior Editor
Ask any golf follower and they'd likely tell you a dream come true would be to attend the Masters -- it's the toughest ticket in sports.
But, just attending one of golf's four most coveted events wasn't enough for a couple of guys from Philadelphia.
Tim Dilworth and John Geary went to the 2003 Masters. While strolling through the immaculate grounds and taking in the impossibly green grass, towering Georgia pines, dogwoods, magnolias and azaleas, as well as landmarks such as Amen Corner, Rae's Creek, Hogan's Bridge, Magnolia Lane, the Eisenhower Tree and the Butler Cabin, these two men wondered -- of all things -- what would make this experience better?
During a long 11-hour drive back up to Philadelphia from Augusta, the two pondered that very question.
Dilworth and Geary figured, sure, being at the Masters and taking it all in was wonderful. However, while roaming about and following your favorite players on foot, there was so much of the tournament you were missing. For instance, the Masters is noted for its "Augusta Roars." You hear them all over the place throughout the tournament, but what are they for and where are they coming from?
What resulted was the concept that would lead to a new, PDA-looking device called myLEADERBOARD.
This handheld device allows spectators, for the first time, to receive live scoring anywhere on the course. But, that's just the tip of the iceberg. OK, that Augusta Roar I heard was because of this eagle Tiger Woods just made to shoot to the top of the leaderboard, but how did he make it?
With the myLEADERBOARD device, not only do you see Tiger made eagle, an alert flashes to tell the spectator the yardage and club selection for which the eagle was made. But, that's not all it does.
"It has an internal radio that connects to our wireless network," Dilworth said. "Let's say Unisys is scoring the event. Our network collects that data, which is sent to us and the media. We put it in our format and into our device. That one score activates 20 different changes to the device. We can set perimeters. For instance, two birdies in a row constitutes a charge and automatically a scroll will alert everybody. That's how it's collected and sent out. In between play, with no golf going on, you can read stories, check out the PGA schedule, or maps of the course.
"We can even spot players for the spectator," Dilworth added. "We actually spot them with volunteer spotters. The hole captain, or marshal will radio into us and tell us where the player is. The cool thing is you'll know where Phil is without having to search for him. Maybe he's not on the course yet. Maybe he's on the practice green. People spend a lot of money to come to these events and myLEADERBOARD will save them a lot of time. If something cool happens, we'll pick it up. If Tiger aces 17, we'll tell everyone there and a guy at No. 1 will go, "Cool," instead of going home that night and seeing it on Sports Center and hearing about it for the first time."
In 2005, myLEADERBOARD was tested at five professional events: Canadian Tour at Barton Creek (test of wireless network and non-interference with the scoring service, Unisys); LPGA McDonald's Championship (test of wireless coverage and build out of features, event scored by IDS); PGA of America's PGA Professional National Championship in Kiawah (proof of concept for PGA); USGA Senior Open (proof of concept for the USGA) and finally the 2005 PGA Championship at Baltusrol.
Dilworth will be on hand at the 2006 PGA Championship at Medinah with 500 of his devices.
"We'll leave Sunday with a large amount of equipment and set up a huge wireless network. If you're a walker, you'll be connected to everything," he said. "That's a 3-4 day process. There could be 24-40 access points to cover the venue. We need to take into account that we need to be out of play. There's a good amount of time in the planning."
Wednesday of PGA Championship week will be Military Day. All military, police and fire enforcement personnel will be admitted free at the main gate with a military/organization identification card.
In conjunction with the Military Day theme, Dilworth is offering all active military with a discounted price on myLEADERBOARD for the practice round.
Spectator's can rent the devices throughout the week. The rental cost is $15 for practice days (Mon.-Wed.) and $25 for the tournament days (Thurs.-Sun.).