The R&A is one of the governing bodies of golf worldwide and the organisers of The Open Championship, the world’s oldest international golf championship. Our responsibilities, in cooperation with the USGA, include the regular production and revision of the rules of golf, ensuring a common standard for golf and golfing equipment around the world.
Partnerships are crucial to ensuring the continued promotion and progression of the sport. The role of sponsorship has evolved over the years and is about much more than brand awareness and hospitality tickets these days. Instead, it’s more about finding a meeting of minds, brands that have a common purpose and are willing to support each other. This makes for a much more authentic, two-way conversation. Our partnership with NTT DATA, now in its ninth year, epitomises this evolution.
An evolving relationship
In order to promote and grow the sport of golf, we are always exploring new and innovative ways we can enhance the viewing experience. Our partnership with NTT DATA has grown in both strength and ambition since its commencement in 2013. As a result, we have been able to develop a wealth of possibilities for innovation and fan engagement at The Open, together.
We first began to realise the true potential of our partnership with the introduction of the NTT DATA Wall at The Open in 2014. Located in the Spectator Village, the physically immense structure combined a live broadcast of the action from the course with real-time data and insights, allowing fans to stay on top of the latest developments from across the course in an engaging and naturally social manner.
Following the creation of the NTT DATA Wall, we’ve been able to evolve the way we share our data and insights to create an increasingly immersive experience for the fans. For the first time in 2018, we were able to fully synchronise the data with the live broadcast, using 3D visualisations to bring the analysis and statistics to life. For a sport as data-rich as golf, being able to enhance this data in such an engaging fashion has been hugely exciting.
Following the cancellation of The Open in 2020, our partnership with NTT DATA took an exciting new direction with The Open For The Ages. Using the latest in data analytics and video AI technology, we were able to create a virtual event that pitted the best players that golf has had to offer from the past half century against one another. The event, which saw 3-times Open winner Jack Nicklaus emerge victorious, generated the sort of discussion and debate you would expect from an edition of golf’s most prestigious Championship. Our close partnership with NTT DATA was vital in being able to bring such an ambitious project to life.
The true value of data
Data and golf are natural bedfellows. The former allows us to explore the nuances and intricacies of the latter in new and exciting ways, providing insights that delight fans. This year, our partnership with NTT DATA will take this innovation even further with a personalised data experience.
Through AI technology, we’re providing fans with their own personalised data feed, giving them real-time updates and analysis on the players most important to them. This evolution in the second screen experience is not just beneficial to those on site, but also those following the action at home too. By enhancing this experience, we can help fans engross themselves in the constantly evolving narratives that make people fall in love with the sport of golf.
Challenges and looking to the future
Bringing back The 149th Open in 2021 has not been plain sailing. We have had to attempt to predict attendance and we’ve gone through several different spectator models since planning began. In the face of so many ups and downs, keeping our head in the game and the morale in the camp high has been a top priority.
The strength of any partnership can be measured by how it stands in the face of unprecedented adversity. When faced with such challenges, you understand the true nature of your partnerships. Our collaboration with NTT DATA has been crucial in fuelling our energy and positivity for The Open and the experience we are bringing to fans. When you see the grandstand go up for the first time in almost two years, you realise the worth of the months of work you’ve put into bringing the Championship to life. Our partnerships have formed the foundation of our work for The Open, and it is exciting to take a new step forward this year with NTT DATA. The work we have done to transform the spectator experience and enrich it by putting data in the hands of the fans will stand us in good stead for future events, and our partnership with NTT DATA holds huge promise for the years to come.
The Open runs from the 15th – 18th July. Be sure to visit NTT DATA at The Open or TheOpen.com to learn more. You can also access all the action through the official Open app, and follow NTT DATA’s social channels to get all the latest developments from Royal St George’s Golf Club this year.