iViewGolf is an interesting enterprise and it caught our attention a few months back. Its purpose is to present golf courses in three dimensions, much as we do/should perceive them in real life. As a mission statement, it pledges to assist in a player’s preparation, pre-visualization and performance. Interested to say the least, we donned our 3D goggles (the kind you get at a movie theater) and had a go-round of a few courses. After a decently-shallow period of learning, the viewer acclimates him/her self to the format. iViewGolf has free and paid sections, with the latter a significant upgrade from the former. Mark Pavy, one of the principles on the team, took time off from the third dimension to answer a klatch of questions for us on iViewGolf and its plans.
Thank you for showing an interest in iViewGolf. We’d like to give a big shout-out to all the golfers and supporters of Buffalo Golfer- May you know where your ball is going!
iViewgolf was officially formed in 2011 when a group of long-time friends decided to film golf courses in 3D from the players point of view. The founders include Mark Pavy, Jason Eden, Scott Ford, John Murphy, Darren Fischer, Winston Marsden and David Jones.
Our friendships and golfing experiences began in the early 1980’s at Wyong Golf Club where Mark Pavy, Jason Eden, Scott Ford, John Murphy and David Jones were all junior members. The club provided an extremely competitive golfing environment, loads of good players and some form of competition was occurring all the time. We played skins most afternoons after school and competed in Vardon Events, Open Amateurs, District, Region, State and National Championships on the weekends.
It’s remarkable how certain events have the ability to shape the future. In this case and in regard to the formation of iViewGolf, a critical event occurred in the year 2000 in the form of a Wedding Invitation!
Robert Gregor, another junior member from Wyong Golf Club, had moved to England for work. He’d met an English lass and was getting married. Mark, Jason and Stephen Leathley (another former junior from Wyong) were invited. The wedding invitation read –”You are cordially invited to attend the wedding of Robert and Deborah to celebrate their love for each other…”, we all knew that was code for- “ We’re playing golf and getting on the turps in England, bring your game and your cash, it’s on!”.
We arrived a week prior to the wedding and did what every group of red-blooded Aussie male golfers would do- we played as much golf as time would permit, we played a “Royal” course and sampled many of the fine English pubs- all in the name of wedding preparations!
The night before the wedding arrived, most of the guests were staying in the same hotel and had congregated in the bar area. The four of us had settled in at the end of the bar and were talking golf, another guest overheard our conversation, wandered over, introduced himself as “Reggie” and joined the discussion. Reggie was Irish, a generation older than us and formally dressed in blazer and tie. Reggie explained that he was a life member and former captain at a little golf club in Ireland called Royal County Down, we explained that we all were members from Wyong Golf Club. Reggie was keen to hear about golf in Australia as we were keen to hear about golf in Ireland, the reality was that Reggie’s knowledge of Australian golf was as equally pathetic as our knowledge of Irish golf. By around 10pm, Reggie was keen to come and play some of the great courses in Australia as we had become keen to play golf in Ireland, by midnight we were convinced you got a free drop away from leprechauns on Irish golf courses and Reggie was practicing his boomerang throwing techniques as it was considered an integral part of the game to disperse the herds of kangaroos from the greens in Australia. By around 3am, Reggie finally conceded that Wyong was indeed the better golf course and that the gorse at Royal County Down should be ripped out and replaced with 100ft Sydney Blue Gum trees to become a proper course!!
The day of the wedding arrived, the usual preparations unfolded. We all arrived at the Cathedral early and decided to slip down to the local pub to help the groom calm his nerves. It was in this pub that the four of us signed an agreement on the back of a coaster that would start a sequence of events that would eventually lead to the decision to form iViewGolf.
The agreement was to commit to getting together every two years to play great golf courses for some serious cash for a week or two. This began what is now known as the Daytona Golf Trips.
The concept of getting away, playing great courses with friends in a highly competitive framework proved to be popular, 4 became 8, 8 became 12 and before we knew it we had 32 players. It was around this time that Darren Fischer and Winston Marsden became part of group.
The highly competitive golf trips in distant golfing locations lead to unprecedented preparations occurring from the group of mainly amateur golfers. Guys were downloading scorecards, course maps, viewing image galleries and watching course tours to familiarise themselves with the golf courses to gain a competitive edge.
Over time we realised that no matter how much preparation and research we did to familiarise ourselves with the courses- it was worthless. What we were faced with as golfers standing on the tee and what we had learnt via the internet, didn’t even remotely align. The mental images we had formed of the courses in our head based around image galleries and conventional 2D photos wasn’t even close to the reality faced by the golfer when standing on the tee. Numerous members of the group had also played some of the courses they’d seen on TV, all citing that the courses, in reality, are vastly different to how they had perceived the course on TV. This became a real discussion point amongst the group.
In 2009, Avatar was released in cinemas in 3D, this coincided with the TV manufacturers rolling out 3D TV’s on a mass scale. The “light bulb” moment followed soon after when Mark walked into the local electronic store and witnessed 3D on a TV.
We had already established that 2D images couldn’t represent how a player sees a golf course, the theory was that 3D technology could.
As we all know, theory is one thing, making it happen is a whole different animal. Fortunately, besides being a large group of golf nuts, many of the group had specific individual talents that could be drawn upon to deliver such an ambitious project. Both Scott and Mark are golf professionals, Darren owns an Advertising and Media Agency, Jason works in upper management for a large publicly listed company, John owns a successful business, David’s in marketing and Winston has a background in sales. On the technical side, Mark was already extremely competent in 2D editing and SFX compositing and quickly picked up 3D, developing the necessary workflows and wrote the script formulas for the 3D composited ball-flights.
Whilst we have identified many practical uses for iViewGolf, the core purpose remains the reason why we originally formed iViewGolf- to provide the most accurate and relevant imagery of golf courses to players who wish to view the course in preparation prior to playing, we think of iViewGolf as a tool. The obvious use is for the type of golfer for whom performance is important and plays a lot of different golf courses- Tour Pros, elite amateurs and competitive juniors would be the most obvious beneficiaries of such a tool. However, when you consider all golfers are playing a wider range of courses these days, the potential use of such a tool may be more useful to the average golfer than one may first assume.
The other areas of focus developed over time. We had formed the company in 2011 and didn’t launch our website and 3D Blu-ray until 2014. Even very early on we would meet regularly for viewing nights which sparked many different conversations. This led us to conducting research into furthering our understanding into many of the concepts that developed as a result of viewing the 3D footage. Specific areas of research included :- Tournament Broadcasts, Golf Course Marketing, Understanding of the Golfing Brain, Golf Course Architecture, Golf Course Ratings, Spatial Awareness and Golf Coaching.
As a result we realised that iViewGolf could contribute to advancing a lot more facets of golf then we had originally envisaged.
Again, we see iViewGolf as a tool, something that is useful to golfers and various sectors of the golf industry. Here’s a quick summary of the purpose of iViewGolf and the advantages that 3D can offer:
Provide golfers with an unprecedented look at the golf course, preparation is akin to the way F1 race car drivers prepare in 3D simulators.
Golf Course Marketing
Golfers need courses, courses need golfers. It’s quite difficult to market a golf course, the typical golden hour photo, accompanied magazine rating and blurb just don’t seem to do a golf course justice. With iViewGolf, courses can show off their greatest asset in an accurate, informative and immersive manner that increases the desire to play the course.
Enhance TV Tournament Broadcast
Recently the Irish Open was played at Fota Island in Cork, Ireland. We had filmed Fota Island so decided to have a night involving around 10 golfers where we watched the broadcast and had a tablet loaded up with our 3D footage as a second screen for reference. Having access to the 3D footage of the course really added to the broadcast because we now knew what the course actually looked like and gave a greater understanding of what the players were faced with.
Viewing courses in 3D greatly enhances the appreciation and understanding of golf course architecture. This area of golf is highly subjective, we believe iViewGolf can be used as a tool by both Architects and Golf Architecture Enthusiasts as a reference tool. Understanding of a 3D spatial environment really needs to be viewed in 3D to comprehend the entire picture.
Anyone who follows the US PGA Tour will have heard Nick Faldo comment on the importance of visualising the shot. Golf Coaches and students can use the iViewGolf 3D images with accompanied ball-flights to train themselves to improve visualisation skills. A serial slicer would benefit from watching visualisations of hooks.
We are currently working with highly respected golf coach Ian Triggs, whose stable of Tour Pros have won 8 Majors and countless Tour wins. Ian is a great supporter of what we are doing and realises how iViewGolf can improve the golfer’s performance.
The short answer would be depth and we could just leave it at that, however, consider the importance of depth to the golfer. Hole distances, shot distances, distances marked on sprinkler heads, laser and GPS distance measuring devices don’t measure height or width, they all measure depth!
We have two eyes that give us stereo vision (3D), it’s how we see the world day in and day out, viewing a golf course in 3D makes more sense to our brain.
Conventional 2D imagery flattens out a scene, it fails to capture the depth, volume and space of a scene that 3D imagery captures.
Our website serves two purposes ; a way to purchase our 3D Blu-ray, ”Great Golf Holes of the World-3D” and a way for golfers to view 3D content over the internet. In order to get access to our library of 3D golf courses, the golfer needs to sign up, it’s free and we even send the golfer a free pair of 3D glasses if they require them. Our custom media player allows viewing of different types of 3D viewing- anaglyph and 3D TV (passive and active) and we’ve tried to make it as straight forward as possible with instructions on how to watch iViewGolf on a 3D TV. We’ve also recently included high quality stills as an alternative to watching the course videos. Like many websites, ours is a work in progress and will be refined over time.
Presently the common forms of 3D imagery require delivery of slightly different images to both eyes and the brain puts the images together to form a 3D scene, unfortunately, people that have lost an eye cannot view 3D images. The anaglyph format (red/blue glasses type) delivers separate images via colour filtration, people who are colour blind may not be able to distinguish the separate colours and therefore not be able to formulate a 3D scene. We have also noticed that several 3D Blu-rays carry warnings regarding epilepsy and people who make experience discomfort on 3D TVs.
Currently the course videos show tee shot and green for a Par 3, tee shot, fairway shot and green for a par 4 and an additional fairway shot for a par 5. It is representative of what the average golfer may experience. An entire 18 hole course video runs for approximately 12 minutes and the user has the ability to skip forward to the required hole if necessary. The high res stills can be viewed as a slideshow or they can simply select which hole they wish to view.
The advancements in VR (virtual reality) is an exciting prospect for us as a viewing option. However, the ability to offer 360 pans from anywhere on the course in photo realistic 3D comes down to a cost vs benefit dilemma. We believe that players are more concerned with the shot and hole in front of them than having the novelty of being able to see the toilet block off to the right-hand side of the 8th tee.
Whilst we don’t see any future in 360 degree pans, we do see significant benefit in zoom and pan. We are currently developing an app that will allow 3D viewing on phones and tablets that will allow users to zoom and pan on the 3D images.
Given that the golfers who sign up to our website are interested in viewing 3D golf courses, we are focussed on increasing our library of 3D courses. Every two weeks we add an additional course to our online library.
Yes, there are two- Wyong and Royal County Down! The debate about which is the better course has continued since that eventful night with Reggie at the bar many years ago. By allowing the world to see both courses in 3D, we might be able to finally put this argument to bed!