PGA, Samsung Tee Up New Golf Fan Experience

The Consumer Electronics Show, held last week in Las Vegas, has always been about more than just new gadgets. Deals, both made on the floor and announced at the show, play an important part as well. And one of the most important this year was a three-year deal whereby Samsung Electronics America will be an “Official Patron of the PGA of America.” Why? Because the two companies will strive not only to figure out how to use Samsung products to make it easier for golf fans to follow the PGA Championship and Ryder Cup but also to make it easier for duffers and scratch players across the country to integrate technology into their own golfing experience.

“We deal with recreational golfers across the country,” says PGA America CEO Pete Bevacqua. “So how can the recreational golfer use real data to their advantage?”

The two organizations will sit down this week, he says, and begin to discuss the many opportunities that lie ahead. Initial focus will be on extending the experience of the PGA Championship and Ryder Cup for fans at home, on the go, and at two of golf’s premier events and also on figuring out how Samsung’s line of mobile products will be used as the PGA’s Official Scoring System for the PGA Championship and 2016 Ryder Cup.

“We have a good relationship with Turner Sports and work with them a lot around and applications for the PGA Championship, so we are out ahead in that regard,” he adds. “Partnering with Samsung and working with them to create the state of the art is novel territory.”

One of the first items on the “to do” list is to build out the PGA 365 app and drive use across Samsung platforms. And fans in the stands and on the course at PGA America events are as important as those at home.

“We want to enrich the viewer experience on the laptop, tablet, or phone,” says Bevacqua. “And golf, unlike many other sports, has 18 different settings and multiple stories going on at the same time, so we have to help the spectator on-site get closer.”

One factor that will help in that regard is that the PGA Championship and Ryder Cup are the only events that allow phones and mobile devices on the course.

“We feel that golf needs to embrace those devices, as it’s a losing fight to have people check and leave their devices at the gate,” he explains. “We are in an age where people are used to using technology, and we need to give them more of a reason to attend and also stay in touch with the outside world. They spend eight to 10 hours with us, and we want to make it easier to do that by adding information and data so they can have a very thorough experience.”

And then there is the other obvious need: making sure the PGA connects with not only young golf fans but young sports fans.

“That is critical, and I think partnering with a company like Samsung, a leading voice in the industry, for [both] fans on-site at events and viewers shows how seriously we take technology,” adds Bevacqua. “And technology now transcends age, as it is being used across the board at our events. That’s why this is such a critical relationship.”

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