If you're a golf fan who can't attend the Arnold Palmer Invitational in person, you can still follow the next stop on the apparent Tiger Woods comeback tour in augmented reality with an iPhone or iPad.
The PGA Tour AR, available now on the App Store for ARKit-compatible devices, lets golf fans place a miniature model of one of six holes from four famous golf courses, and users can zoom and rotate the models with the usual touchscreen gestures.
At launch, available courses include Pebble Beach in Monterey County, California, Bay Hill near Orlando, TPC Sawgrass in Jacksonville, Florida, and East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta. More models will be added throughout the season, with the PGA Tour planning to feature at least one hole from every tournament.
Starting with the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill this week, users can follow along with live action at the sixth hole, with shot trails and other live data animated onto the model. Right now, users can access the virtual courses and view past performances from dozens of PGA golfers.
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"Exploring unparalleled technologies like AR helps the PGA Tour reach new audiences around the world," said Rick Anderson, PGA Tour chief media officer, in a statement provided to Next Reality. "Tapping into ARKit in iOS 11 allows us to showcase real-time data provided by ShotLink and CDW in a rich, visual way for fans. The PGA Tour takes pride in bringing new technology to the sports world as a way of communicating to a large, diverse audience."
While the app is designed for the spectator at home, the PGA Tour and the app's developer, Possible Mobile, may add some features for fans in attendance at tournaments, such as helping them to locate amenities around the course, or follow their favorite players.
"New technologies are exciting, but only if they can add a new and valuable dimension to an experience," said Ben Reubenstein, CEO of Possible Mobile. "Golf is a perfect fit for leveraging augmented reality by providing a cutting-edge way for fans to interact with the sport."
Though the app is launching exclusively on iOS, a PGA Tour spokesperson says that the development team is exploring an Android version with AR facilitated by ARCore. There's no timetable for release, though, so Android users will need to let Apple owners "play through" (in the parlance of the game) for now.
Overall, this a neat little twist on the live scoring updates that sports media typically provides for fans not at the event, or without access to the TV broadcast.
Sure, one day we'll be able to watch a Los Angeles Lakers game unfold on our tabletops, or view live replays from a Seattle Seahawks contest in our living rooms, but, for now, we can make do with data simulation.