Essential Golf: A passion for the Game

MAM a Treasure Trove for the PGA TOUR

The PGA TOUR’s state-of-the-art media asset management (MAM) system puts decades of tournament footage within easy reach.

Once upon a time, the PGA TOUR was a genteel little sports organization with just a couple hours of weekend programming.

Not anymore.

Today, the PGA TOUR is a sporting giant with a multitude of broadcast partners and its own live-streaming service, PGA Tour Live, televising hundreds of hours of programming of its competitions each week on the PGA TOUR, PGA TOUR Champions and Korn Ferry Tour, along with developmental tours in Canada, Latin America and China.

Game changer

And just as the game has exploded, so has the TOUR’S Media Asset Management system (MAM). What was once an antiquated system of videotapes with handwritten logs of the content stored in a warehouse is now a hi-tech content storage and retrieval network. Every shot from every camera angle of every tournament—thousands of shots every week—is now stored in a sophisticated database. Think of it as a highly searchable, in-house YouTube system.

“The PGA TOUR’s Media Asset Management system is consistently rated by our media partners as one of the best and most intuitive in the industry for finding and pulling video from our archive,” says Rick Anderson, the PGA TOUR’s Chief Media Officer. “The TOUR’s Media Asset Management system currently supports over 15 internal and external broadcast partners. As of last year, we had more than 100,000 hours of video ingested and over 6 million log entries. In 2018 alone, we ingested over 8,500 hours of video, representing a 75 percent increase from just six years ago.”

Easy access

Broadcast partners once traveled the country with a semitrailer full of copies of those old videotapes that they would have to manually search to pull up an old clip for use during tournament coverage. Now, all they have to do is log into MAM’s web-based interface to access the content—say, Tiger Woods’ first tee shot in a PGA TOUR event— and it’s delivered in seconds from the 22 servers that store almost six petabytes of data (a petabyte is 1 million gigabytes).

But it’s not just CBS, NBC and Golf Channel accessing this digital treasure trove. A number of others—from advertising partners who license the content to players themselves who want to study how a putt broke on a particular green in a previous tournament they played in—do so, too.

Back then

The tale of the tape began in 1985, when the TOUR started hiring its own camera crew to record footage of tournaments for “Inside the PGA Tour.” The process back then was to put a label on the outside of the tapes and then keep a book of hand-written logs, the usefulness of which depended on the legibility of the person’s handwriting.  

The TOUR moved to a computer-based logging and search system in 1991 with the benefits of legible logs and time stamps taken directly from the tape machine, but even then, it was clunky, time-consuming process with users having to search library shelves to retrieve tapes for editing. There were also issues with misspelled player names or the use of initials, quizzical abbreviations and no uniformity of terminology. A bunker, for instance, was also called a sand trap or even “a beach.” It wasn’t the best system for a rich, searchable, metadata environment.

“What’s the point of archiving something if you won’t be able to retrieve it one day?” asks MAM Director Michael Raimondo, noting the importance of the system. “We have a responsibility to preserve the history of the PGA TOUR because we’re the rights holders.”

100 years of content

With the advent of Golf Channel in the mid-1990s, the broadcast content really started to mushroom, too, so the TOUR started looking at an end-to-end, computer-based system that would be highly efficient, functional and customizable. Working first with IBM and later with CDW, the TOUR’s Official Technology Partner, the TOUR spent years designing the system and ingesting tens of thousands of hours of videotape. TOUR archives contained nearly 100 years of content, including news reels from the 1920s; film from the 1960s, such as “Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf” and “Piccadilly World Match Play”; and PGA TOUR broadcasts dating to the early 1970s.

MAM went live in 2010, allowing immediate access to footage for simultaneous users who could search, retrieve and do basic editing from their desktop. Even interviews with players were searchable down to specific questions and answers.

Broadcast partners started using the system in 2012 (NBC averages more than 80 clips a tournament). One of the first examples of a network utilizing the technology came at the 2012 Genesis Invitational when Bill Haas was on his way to the winner’s circle and CBS wanted to do a side-by-side swing comparison from the same tee with his dad, Jay, playing in the tournament in the 1980s.

Integration of ShotLink

A major enhancement came in 2016 with the integration of ShotLink, the TOUR’s vaunted shot-data collection system, Now, every broadcast is logged with an application that has over 50 golf-specific tags that can be used for every shot, allowing users to search over 40 points of data, such as putts made between 10 and 15 feet.  

When MAM first launched in 2010, there were only about 25 users. Now, there are more than 200, including the TOUR’s marketing and communications staff, as well players and their caddies who want to view footage of themselves to prepare for upcoming events. PGA TOUR wives have even utilized MAM to create birthday videos. But the public will have to wait. Right now, MAM is just a B2B product.

Of course, the database’s value is only going to increase with time. “A friend and I used to joke that New York City is going to be fantastic when it’s finished,” says Raimondo. “That’s the same way we feel about MAM. The archive will never be finished because we keep adding more and more content all the time and increasing the capabilities of what the system can do.”

This article first appeared in the PGA TOUR December 2019-May 2020 issue, which can be read here.

See also: Presidents Cup: Down to the Wire Down Under