Can Golf Learn From USFL Technology

By R.J. Smiley






Everyone knows the Psychic is an avid golf fan.  He marvels as the television and streaming coverage of golf tournaments improves weekly with each event, especially golf’s major championships, plus the Player’s.  He spent four full days watching the coverage of the PGA Championship at the storied Southern Hills Golf Club.  The nuances of the golf course combined with the skill level of the best players in the world created the unmatched drama found only in a major championship. 

Secretly the Psychic was pulling for Will Zalatoris, but his allegiance was growing toward the rookie from Chili, Mito Pereira.  Then the pressure of winning, especially a major, appeared at the final hole with the lead.  Alas, Mito failed to deliver on the final hole in a replay of Jean Van de Velde’s collapse in the 1999 Open Championship. 

“Hard to win a major,” he thought!

When the final putt dropped, the Psychic realized that the best player won!  JT was able to hit the shots when they counted. 

Hale to the champion!

As the Psychic was entertained by the drama, he was also observing the technological improvements of the golf coverage.  He recalled his early days learning to play golf.  Most courses used a tree or a marker stake to provide the approximate distance, 150 yards or 100 yards, to the center of the green.  In those days he quickly learned that the distance of each of these markers was only as accurate as the length of the paces of the person who planted the tree or stake.  As technology improved so did the distance markers and/or the measuring devices.

As the Psychic watched the ESPN computer aided technology, he continued to be amazed.  The wind speed and direction were compared against the previous day’s winds speed and direction.  The exact distance to the hole was shown, then compared to the playing distance – as the wind velocity constantly changed.  On the putting green the distance from the ball to the hole was measured to the inch.  Below the exact distance, the percentage of a PGA Professional making that length putt was displayed.  All wonderful stuff!

Summer football, USFL games, provide entertainment when there is no golf on TV.  Football is football but the technology incorporated into the USFL has given fans a faster moving game with inside looks at the football, never before witnessed.  Fans actually feel like they’re a part of the action. 

Why can’t golf think outside the box and incorporate the types of artificial intelligence developed for the USFL to make golf even more fun and exciting.

The 2009 PGA Championship hat from Hazeltine, that had rested comfortably on his head for four days, was quickly replaced with the worn turbine.  The Psychic gave the crystal ball a few extra rubs with the chamois cover as he settled into his chair.

Before his eyes could focus, the images from deep within the crystal were blasted at him.  It was a machine gun blast of golf images, each building on the previous advancement. 

Suddenly the series of still images morphed into a video from a major championship.  The streaming video images began like any video of any golf tournament.  The golfer hitting a shot with shot tracer following the ball out of camera view.  The streaming video suddenly became a unique video of a golf ball in the air approaching the green.  The streaming video was, at times, a full 360° view from the green showing the golf ball approaching the hole.  The golf ball hit the green hopped once and then spun backward and to the right coming to rest only inches from the hole.

The Psychic flinched as his head jerked back away from the magic crystal ball.  What had he just seen?  Where was the camera or cameras capable of instantly streaming approaching golf balls located?  How could the camera locate and instantly video stream with that degree of accuracy? 

As the Psychic moved his eyes back into the endless depth of the sphere, he witnessed a sequence of shots from the fairway or tee on par-3 holes with shot tracer followed by images from within the green itself. 

As he observed the view came a zoom-in image of the flagstick. The magic flagstick was only slightly larger than a standard flagstick, but filled with artificial intelligence aided cameras within.

Then the streaming video became golf holes that the Psychic recognized.  His beloved neighborhood muni was streaming live golf shots, his foursome and other players that he recognized.  All shots tracked with shot tracer and action shots from the magic flagstick. 

When, where how wondered the Psychic as the light from within the crystal faded?