Since 2013, NTT DATA has been a patron of The Open, helping to leverage the latest technology to bring fans closer to the action at the world’s oldest golf tournament. Every year we’ve pioneered in venue fan technology, innovating to find new ways to keep fans informed and engaged with every twist and turn at each hole.
Last year, The Open Championship was hosted at The Royal Portrush Golf Club in Northern Ireland. Here, almost a quarter of a million fans experienced the latest iteration of the NTT DATA Wall – a 19x5.5m screen displaying all the latest data and results at the heart of the Spectator Village.
The system crunched over 8 billion data points across the four-day event, presenting fans with a host of 3D graphics on the NTT DATA Wall to update them on areas including player data, hole rankings and putting averages as well as live action across the 18 holes. 2019 included the first use of artificial intelligence (AI) on the NTT DATA Wall, with cameras detecting fan emotions, and producing targeted highlights based on their reactions.
This year, the COVID-19 pandemic meant The Open was cancelled and bringing the NTT DATA Wall back was simply not an option. Nevertheless we wanted to support The R&A and the millions of dedicated golf fans worldwide – a commitment now in its eighth year. As such, in 2020, we’re bringing our capabilities to bear in a different way by helping The R&A continue to put on a show this year in spite of the cancellation.
On 19 July, The R&A in partnership with NTT DATA, will deliver an unprecedented TV broadcast event: The Open for The Ages. Drawing on archive footage, the programme will pit golfing greats from the past 50 years – including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Jack Nicklaus – against each other in a virtual ‘live’ event in the storied surroundings of the Old Course at St Andrews. Beginning with in-play clips and live leader boards over the first three rounds from 16 to 18 July, viewers can tune in on 19 July for a bumper three-hour golf extravaganza to see who will clinch victory in the final round.
NTT DATA will be assisting The R&A in several critical areas. One aspect will be using our expertise in data and intelligence to tease out key information hidden in the reams of historic data held in the archives. This data ranges from the simple scorecards in the 1970s to the live stream data in 2019, publicly available strokes gained data, The R&A Distance Insights reports and proprietary sources. We even looked at the weather in St Andrews from 1970 to the present day – unsurprisingly perhaps, there’s a lot of rain!
This data can help determine how the game might have played out had these legends actually competed against each other. What might lead to success? Is it the number of birdies? The accuracy of the play on the green? The length of a drive from the tee? Or is success determined by psychological or other human factors? Our conclusions will be published in our upcoming ebook, and together with a public vote, our results will determine who will be crowned champion of The Open for The Ages.
Another key area of support will be the use of our video AI partnerships: the technology we’re using will be able to analyse every single broadcast of The Open from the 70s onwards, identifying each and every event that occurs. Stitching together footage of Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy playing 18 holes from different years is an arduously long process if the edits are done manually. With video AI support, the same process can take just a few seconds. With this system, The R&A can rapidly create customised short-form video content for digital publication and distribution to fans.
NTT DATA’s innovation team will be supporting The Open for The Ages and we are delighted to be working with our close partners at The R&A on this event. Follow us for more blogs and social media updates in the run-up to 19 July to discover more about this year’s event.