The PGA Tour is bringing live golf courses to your coffee table via Apple's AR platform

Lucas Matney
The PGA Tour is bringing live golf courses to your coffee table via Apple's AR platform

If you thought that televised gold was just about as technologically advanced as it was ever going to be, it'd be understandable, but you'd be oh so wrong.

The PGA Tour is showcasing a new augmented reality app that will utilize Apple's ARKit platform to let users visualize courses and holes in their living rooms and see how the pros stack up against each other.

You can select your favorite players and compare their strokes and get details on how long their drives were and where they sank the putt from. In the app's early days, you'll just be able to check out a few featured holes inside this app, it's not something you'll be able to access for every hole. Live AR coverage will be available this week on March 15 for the Arnold Palmer Invitational with the 6th hole getting the AR featured hole treatment.

For a sport like golf, a lot of the utility of the organization's apps is for what has been heralded as a "second-screen" experience, where users look to augment their TV-watching experience with content from their phone. Adding AR capabilities with a PGA Tour app brings an interactive, custom experience that couldn't happen on the TV while allowing users to get more familiar with some of the world's most iconic courses.

"AR gives you the ability to bring in the more three-dimensional aspects of a golf course that are hard to really understand when you're just watching on television," PGA Tour CMO  Rick Anderson told TechCrunch.

For a lot of organizations, one of the biggest barriers to putting their locations into AR is acquiring 3D assets that they can showcase to users. The PGA Tour is in the unique position of already having plenty of laser-scanned models of golf courses that they use for TV animations of gameplay. In the context of this new app, the maps add another way for viewers to understand the geography of a course and particular hole. In the future, the organization's expansive library of 3D course maps will put them into a good place to further capitalize on augmented reality experiences that require an intimate knowledge of the environments that users are in.

At the end of the day, this is pretty low-hanging fruit in terms of AR capabilities, but for a sizable organization like the PGA Tour there are a lot of opportunities to build from here. The PGA TOUR AR app is a standalone experience, though the org says that once it gets moving there, the functionality will likely migrate to the main app.

The app is available now for free on the App Store.

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