PGA Tour Golf in 3-D?

Sony Open in Hawaii 2010

Before he got to addressing the inevitable Tiger Woods questions (and there were plenty of them, as always) yesterday at his annual year-end media press conference, Tim Finchem had a few surprises of his own to reveal.

The PGA Tour commissioner outlined a very rosy business profile of the tour as it heads into 2010. Among the new agreements he referred to was an exploratory partnership with the Sony Corporation to bring golf to another dimension, a third one at that.

Sony, already a 12 year partner with the PGA Tour, we’ll be exploring the broadcast of tournament golf in 3-D. The company revealed their commitment to 3-D television back in September and also recently stated that they would be filming up to 25 matches of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa in 3-D. They predict that 30 to 50% of the televisions they sell in the year 2012 will have 3-D capability.

For the PGA Tour Project will begin work next month at the 2010 Sony Open in Hawaii. There they will film various events, possibly the Pro-Am, practice rounds, and some tournament footage, as a test. They will continue to gather footage throughout the 2010 PGA Tour season. The goal will be to have a full broadcast of the 2011 Sony Open in Hawaii in 3-D. The program would still be viewable in regular 2-D format.

The partners say they will also explore the development of 3-D golf for other potential applications. Sir Howard Stringer, chairman, CEO, and President of Sony Corp. says that Sony is driving the transition to 3-D television. “Just as video of sports and nature were key to the adoption of high definition television, we expect the same to be true for 3-D The sport of golf and the natural beauty of Hawaii are an ideal combination to showcase a distinct advantages of 3-D and bring the full, 3-D experience to life for consumers.”

Commissioner Finchem reiterated Stringer’s stand on golf’s role with television. “High definition television is already driving increased golf viewing. We are excited about working with Sony to showcase the potential of 3-D technology at the 2011 Sony open in Hawaii. We believe that 3-D has the potential to put a fan right in the center of the action and make our telecasts even more exciting and engaging. The beauty of the Sony Open in Hawaii makes this the perfect setting to debut this technology.”

The Sony Open in Hawaii certainly makes sense as a worldwide showcase for this technology. The tournament is already broadcast in 200 countries and reaches more than 450 million all homes.

The big question will be just how many of those homes, in the golf viewers within them, will be ready for 3-D television by 2011.

Obviously this is an emerging technology, just as high definition television was before it, but just how useful it will be for golf broadcasts is a question that has yet to be answered. But it certainly shows some potential.