Leisurecorp, a division of Nakheel Leisure, pioneered the use of FlightScope, the world’s original technology for 3D ball tracking, for the first time at a European Tour event during the 2009 European Open.
As record crowds of 90,000 watched stars such as Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, and Rory McIlroy compete at The London Club in Kent, Leisurecorp, the co-promoters of The European Open with The European Tour, used the technology to enhance coverage for millions of television viewers at home.
FlightScope, which was first developed from military tracking radar and is more commonly used to assist golfers during club fitting, accurately records ball flight to give true spin and launch data. Detailed data was measured by EDH (Electronic Development House) who manufacture FlightsScope in Stellenbosch, South Africa.
On the 15th tee at The European Open, each player’s drive was recorded and the data collected. This information was then correlated to create an on-screen dropdown graphic for broadcast, showing club speed, launch angles, back spin and carry distance. This data was provided to players competing in the tournament so they could analyse their performance each day and also made available to fans on The European Tour’s official website www.europeantour.com.
Leisurecorp first trialled the technology with EDH at its Pearl Valley Golf Estates during the South African Open in December 2008; however, The European Open is the first time this technology has been used during the live television broadcast of a European Tour tournament.
Speaking at The London Club, Malcolm Mackenzie, director MIA Sports Technology, and veteran of more than 600 European Tour events, including victory at the 2002 French Open, said, “FlightScope was invented by a man named Henri Johnson (CEO, EDH), who believed that if you could track missiles, you could also track golf balls. Leisurecorp approached us with the idea to use the technology for television and we demoed the idea at the South African Open. Without Leisurecorp we wouldn’t be here.
“These days golf fans want to know more about a pro’s swing and they expect to see information about spin, club-speed, flight time, and carry distance. In the future, we will be able to see this kind of data live on every shot.”
After the success of The European Open, Leisurecorp is considering plans to cover a more comprehensive range of holes at the Dubai World Championship – the season finale to The Race to Dubai held at Jumeirah Golf Estates from November 19-22, 2009.
MIA Sports Technology www.miasportstechnology.com