New technology takes golf statistics to new level

John Deere Classic

As soon as any golf ball is hit at the John Deere Classic, information is already being sent to ShotLink — the scoring system for the PGA Tour. 

ShotLink operations senior manager Sean Holland gets to each PGA Tour course a week early to set up. He said golf poses a challenge you don’t have with sports like basketball or football.

“We play 18 different fields or stadiums, if you will, with 18 things going on, on those different holes and we have multiple golf balls being struck at any one time,” Holland said.

A key part of their system is new, high-tech cameras. There are three at each hole. 

“When anything that is the size, shape, [or] radar signature [of a golf ball] and acts like a golf ball crosses the path of that camera lens, it tracks it,” Holland said.

It sends that image back to the ShotLink trailer where experts can determine where the ball hit, how fast it’s going and where it’s headed. 

However, just as important as the cameras are the volunteers. Walking scorers use tablets to relay back to the base when each golfer hits the ball. 

“We kind of jokingly in a way say we launch the space shuttle every week with volunteers,” Holland said.”We could not do ShotLink without volunteers. The PGA Tour could not be operated without volunteers.”

But when the John Deere Classic wraps up Sunday night, the volunteers will stay behind and ShotLink heads off to the next tournament. 

“We’re going to pack this truck up and this truck will head to Canada to do it sort of all over again.” 

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